The Importance of Maintaing a Healthy Weight During Pregnancy
According to research by Alison Stuebe, assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at UNC Chapel Hill's School of Medicine, a mother's weight, and the amount she gains during pregnancy, may have an impact on her daughter's risk of obesity decades later.
The researchers analyzed data from more than 24,000 mother-daughter pairs, this is what they discovered:
- Mothers who were overweight before pregnancy where more likely to have obese daughters in later life.
- Moms who gained 15 - 19 pounds during pregnancy had the lowest risk of their daughters being obese in later life. In comparison, mothers who gained more than 40 pounds during pregnancy were almost twice as likely to have daughters who were obese at age 18, and later in life.
- Pregnancy weight gain of less than 10 pounds was associated with a 1.5-fold increase in the odds of being obese at 18, and a 1.3-fold increase in odds of being obese in later life.
The results of this study show how important it is that women aim for a healthy weight before they become pregnant if possible. It’s also true that throughout pregnancy women should try to gain only moderate amounts of weight.
A few weeks ago I discussed what a healthy diet for pregnancy should look like, and we talked about how calorie requirements throughout pregnancy are dependant on the amount of physical activity you take, and also your pre-pregnancy weight.
Just to reiterate, I pointed out that in America an extra 300-calories per day is encouraged in the final six months. But, again this is intended to be a guideline only.
As a matter of fact, in another study also by Alison Stuebe, it was found that women who eat an extra 500 calories per day during pregnancy increase their risk of gaining too much weight during pregnancy by 10 percent.
But, is gaining too much weight during pregnancy dangerous for my heart?
Gaining too much weight during pregnancy can be dangerous, because it puts additional pressure on your heart, and it is linked with complications at birth, such as pre-eclampsia, and the need for a C-section.
Here are a few general guidelines for pregnancy weight gain:
- If underweight (BMI less than 18.5) try to gain around 28 to 40 pounds
- If normal weight (BMI 18.5 to 24.9) try to gain around 25 to 35 pounds
- If overweight (BMI 25 to 29.9) try to gain around 15 to 25 pounds
- If obese (BMI 30 or over) try to gain around 11 to 20 pounds