What the Deal with Excessive Weight Gain in Pregnancy?

Photo Credit: Simona Balint

You Will Pack on the Pounds During Pregnancy

Whether you like it or not, you are going to pack on the pounds during pregnancy. The ideal weight gain for a woman of normal size is 25 to 35 pounds. Women who started their pregnancy underweight should aim to gain between 28 and 40 pounds. If you are overweight, you should only gain 15 to 25 pounds by the time your baby is born. Gaining too many pounds can have negative effects on your health and your baby’s overall well-being.

Excessive Weight Gain in Pregnancy

Excessive Weight Gain and Your Pregnancy Health

Excessive weight gain in pregnancy is not recommended for a number of reasons. First, gaining too much weight makes all your pregnancy aches and pains much worse. Backaches, round ligament pain, swelling (also called edema), heartburn and indigestion, leg cramps, and other pregnancy discomforts are exacerbated with the more weight that you gain. You’re also more likely to get stretch marks, especially if you gain your weight too fast.

In addition to the physical discomforts, excessive weight gain in pregnancy has been linked to a number of gestational complications, including pregnancy-induced hypertension (high blood pressure), preeclampsia, and gestational diabetes. These pregnancy complications can make it harder for you to deliver vaginally. You may need to have a cesarean section (C-section) instead.

After you give birth, that excessive weight gain may be hard to shed. If you don’t shed those extra pounds within six months after you give birth, you’re at higher risk of becoming obese in ten years. It’s a good idea to shed as much pregnancy weight as you can through postpartum exercise and a healthy diet.

Gaining Too Much Weight Linked to Childhood Obesity

Excessive weight gain in pregnancy also makes it more likely that you’ll give birth to a larger baby. Bigger babies are harder to deliver. If you have a vaginal birth, you may require assisted delivery techniques (like forceps or vacuum extraction). You may also face more severe perineal tears.

In August 2010, researchers at Children’s Hospital in Boston found a consistent association between a mother’s weight gain and her baby’s birth weight. When compared to women who gained the recommended amount of pregnancy weight, women of average weight who gained between 44 to 49 pounds during pregnancy were 1.7 times more likely to give birth to a high birth weight baby (a newborn who is 8.8 pounds or heavier). If you gained over 53 pounds in pregnancy, your risk increases to 2.3 times as likely.

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