Many women add too many pounds during pregnancy

WASHINGTON — Eating for two? New guidelines are setting how much weight women should gain during pregnancy — surprisingly little if they’re already overweight or obese when they conceive.

The most important message: Get to a healthy weight before you conceive, say the Institute of Medicine’s guidelines, the first national recommendations on pregnancy weight since 1990. It’s healthiest for the mother — less chance of pregnancy-related high blood pressure or diabetes, or the need for a C-section — and it’s best for the baby, too. Babies born to overweight mothers have a greater risk of premature birth and becoming overweight themselves, among other concerns.

That’s a tall order, considering that about 55 percent of women of childbearing age are overweight and preconception care isn’t that common.

Once a woman’s pregnant, the guidelines issued today aren’t too different from what obstetricians already recommend — but they’re not easy, considering about half of women fail to follow them today.

Among the advice:

—A normal-weight woman, as measured by BMI or body mass index, should gain between 25 and 35 pounds during pregnancy. A normal BMI, a measure of weight for height, is between 18.5 and 24.9.

—An overweight woman — BMI 25 to 29.9 — should gain 15 to 25 pounds during pregnancy.

—An obese woman — BMI of 30 or higher — should gain 11 to 20 pounds. This marks the first recommendation ever set for women so heavy.

—An underweight woman — BMI less than 18.5 — should gain 28 to 40 pounds.

What if a mom-to-be has already gained too much? On average, overweight and obese women already are gaining five more pounds than the upper limit.

But pregnancy is not a time to lose weight, stressed guidelines co-author Dr. Anna Maria Siega-Riz of the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

“It’s not, ‘Hey you gained enough, now you need to stop,’” Siega-Riz said. “Let’s take stock of where you’re at and start gaining correctly.”

Indeed, the guidelines lay out that in the second and third trimesters, underweight and normal-weight mothers should be putting on a pound a week for proper fetal growth. The overweight and obese need about half a pound a week.

Hopping on the scale during prenatal checkups makes for a sensitive moment, especially in a culture that cherishes the ice cream-and-pickles stereotype.

Implementing the guidelines may take a move “to change the whole culture about pregnancy” and eating, Siega-Riz said. She noted that in studies of the overweight, “most of these women will tell you that they’ve never been told how much weight to gain” during pregnancy.

More in Local News

Shock from WSU suicide ripples through Snohomish County

Roughly 1 in 10 seniors, sophomores and 8th-graders said they had attempted to take their own lives.

$1,000 reward for info on who killed an eagle near Snohomish

After being shot, the raptor was treated at the Sarvey Wildlife Center but died overnight.

Woman confronts man leaving house with stolen item

“He swung at her with a crowbar, missing her.”

Police seek suspect in Wells Fargo bank robbery

He was described as white, in his 30s, heavyset, with blonde hair and a maroon sweatshirt.

Possible bobcat sighting keeps Snohomish students inside

The creature was spotted on the campus of Valley View Middle School around noon.

Stabbing in Everett follows dispute between brothers-in-law

The victim, 54, was hospitalized. The suspect, 29, had not been apprehended Thursday.

New leaders coming to county, state political parties

Hillary Moralez of Bothell takes over as chair for the Snohomish County Democratic Party.

Mom and brother turn in suspect in Stanwood robberies

The man is suspected of robbing the same gas station twice, and apologizing to the clerk afterward.

Derrick “Wiz” Crawford, 22, is a suspect in the homicide of his roommate. (Edmonds Police Department)
Roommate suspected in Edmonds killing found hiding in closet

Police had been searching for him for 10 days before locating him at a house in Everett.

Most Read