We all have friends who think pregnancy is the time of life when they can eat what they want, when they want. Pregnancy and weight gain has a careful balance, according to researchers, that must be maintained for the health of the pregnant women and fetus during pregnancy and for years after. Recent research notes that excessive weight gain during pregnancy may lead to an increased risk of obesity in children.

What is Excessive Weight Gain?
Obstetricians follow a set of guidelines when answering questions about pregnancy and weight gain. Typically, about 25 to35 pounds should be gained during pregnancy. Women who are underweight when they become pregnant should gain a bit more and women who are overweight during pregnancy can gain less. Multiple pregnancy, twins or more, is another time when women should gain more weight.

According to the Institute of Medicine, about 33% of normal weight women and 50% of overweight women gained more than the recommended amount of weight during pregnancy. Researchers broke these numbers down and revealed that less than 50% of pregnant women follow guidelines established for pregnancy and weight gain. These women often give birth to larger than average weight babies which may increase the risk of the childhood obesity.

What is the Risk Associated with Pregnancy and Weight Gain for Baby?
If a woman gains more than 53 pounds during a singlet pregnancy, one baby, she is two times as likely to give birth to an infant weighing more than nine pounds. Doctors believe the weight of infants at birth may have a connection to their weight throughout life. This means babies born at higher weights may live life at higher weights.

What are the Exact Guidelines for Pregnancy and Weight Gain?
It is important to remember that every woman is different. Pregnancy and weight gain guidelines are established so women have an idea of the ideal weight gain. Some babies will naturally grow larger even if mom stays within normal weight range, leading to more weight gain for mom. If the pregnant woman is eating healthy, nutritionally balanced meals in the right portion sizes and weight gain is still excessive, there may just be a genetic predisposition to larger than normal babies.

BMI 18.5 or less – 28 to 40 pounds

BMI 18.6 to 24.9 – 25 to 35 pounds

BMI 25 to 29.9 – 15 to 25 pounds

BMI 30 or more – 11 to 20 pounds

Pregnancy and weight gain should be carefully monitored. In the 1990s, there was a huge increase in low birth weight babies, which could have lead to the lax standards followed by some obstetricians today. As researchers find more and more connections between pregnancy and weight gain and child health, there could be a resurgence of obstetricians watching weight gain closely.