While the old adage of eating for two is no longer acceptable, it is generally expected that most women will gain weight during pregnancy. Recommended weight gain guidelines are based on your pre-pregnancy BMI with a breakdown as follows:
Pre-Pregnancy Weight/Recommended Weight Gain
Underweight (BMI under 18.5): 28-40 lbs (13-18 kilos)
Normal Weight (BMI 18.5 – 24.9): 25 – 35 lbs (11-16 kilos)
Overweight (BMI 24.9 – 29.9): 15-25 lbs (7 – 11 kilos)
Obese (BMI 30 or greater): 11-20lbs (5-9 kilos)
Interestingly, a recent Kaiser Permanente study shows that women who are obese at the time of conception are usually the ones to gain over and above the recommended weight, and retain 40% of that excess a year after giving birth.
The study, the largest of its kind in the U.S., focused on women with a body mass index of 30+. This group, more than others, need close monitoring when it comes to pregnancy weight gain. The issues that affect obese women and their babies are multiple, and at times fatal, including pre-eclampsia, gestational diabetes and neural tube defects in the baby, which heighten the risk of spina bifida, miscarriage or stillbirth. Many studies have shown that obese women who gain little or no weight during pregnancy have a healthier baby, with fewer delivery complications.
A senior investigator at Kaiser Permanente is unconvinced that obese women need to gain as much weight as recommended in the table above, and is currently involved in a new study whose goal is for obese women to be within 3% of their pre pregnancy weight after delivery. The message from this study is quite clear though. Not only does obesity make conception more difficult, it brings with it many problems during and after the pregnancy. Additionally, it is recommended that those who are obese try to lose weight and change their eating habits before becoming pregnant, as life after baby means less time, and less inclination to focus on yourself.