If there is one thing I have learned about pregnant women it is that they are all sensitive about how they look. They want the perfectly shaped belly, the unchanged face, and definitely not pregnancy thighs. Even before she is really showing, a woman is likely to start worrying about her weight and what pregnancy is going to do to her. The media does nothing to help. Just browsing the magazine racks in the grocery store this week I saw at least five stories about pregnant celebrities and their fights with their weight, either one way or the other. It seems there is no such thing as looking good when you are pregnant in Hollywood. Either you have gained far too much weight, or your health is in grave danger because you haven’t gained enough. Where is the line drawn? How much weight should you really gain, and it is the same for every woman?

It goes without saying that women will gain weight when they are pregnant. While those women who are dramatically overweight when they get pregnant may actually maintain or even lose weight while they are pregnant and still carry and deliver a healthy baby, the vast majority of women will gain weight as their babies develop. This is considered a normal part of pregnancy, and is an expected aspect of the body accumulating more fluid and baby-nurturing fat, not to mention adding the weight of the actual baby. What is critical to remember, however, is pregnancy is not an open excuse to gain as much weight as you want. Excessive weight gain during pregnancy can have many ill effects on both mother and baby, some of which can be quite devastating. Notably, the instance of perinatal and postnatal death for babies of mothers who gained a considerable amount of weight during pregnancy was much higher than that of babies of mother who gained a normal amount of weight.

Recommended weight gain during pregnancy does not remain the same for all women. While most practitioners will say the average healthy weight gain for a woman during her pregnancy is 25-35 pounds, this depends largely on the weight and health of the mother prior to her pregnancy. Underweight women will be encouraged to gain more weight, while overweight women will be told to minimize weight gain. Obviously, mothers expecting more than one baby will have a broader range of weight gain that is considered acceptable, but the amount does not increase in equal amounts for each baby. Women should pay very close attention to their weight gain throughout pregnancy and take what their practitioner tells them with importance. Your doctor or midwife will be happy to help you control your weight so you can stay as healthy as you can, and deliver a baby that is safe, healthy and properly developed.

Source: Johnson JW. Excessive maternal weight and pregnancy outcome, American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology. 1992, 167 (2): 353-70.