What should I eat, how much weight will I gain, and should I exercise remain among the most common questions asked by women during prenatal appointments. In today’s technological society, there is so much information out there that can be confusing and hard to sort through, but not all of it can be trusted.
So, how much weight should you gain during pregnancy?
The answer, though not a difficult one, is different for each woman, and potentially for each pregnancy. Current recommendations are based on a woman’s BMI, or body mass index. Your BMI is calculated based on your weight and height. Click here to calculate your BMI. Recommendations also differ based on whether you’re carrying one baby or multiples. Current recommendations for weight gain in pregnancy are:
BMI <18.5: 28-40 pounds
BMI between 18.5 and 24.9: 25-35 pounds
BMI between 25-29.9: 15-25 pounds
BMI ≥ 30: 11-20 poundsSo why are these numbers important? Research over the years has shown that excessive weight gain in pregnancy can lead to problems during and after birth. Gaining more than the recommended amount can lead to an increased risk of developing high blood pressure and gestational diabetes in pregnancy. It can also increase your risk of having a cesarean section or giving birth to a baby that is considered large for gestational age. Additionally, it may be harder to lose the weight after giving birth.
The next obvious question is, what can you do for exercise during pregnancy?
The answer again is different for each woman. As always, before you begin any physical activity during pregnancy, you should first make sure it is OK with your healthcare provider. If you are already active, the recommendation is to continue your current routine without overdoing it. This includes taking precautions against overheating, and staying hydrated during your workout. Care should also be taken to prevent abdominal trauma or falls. If you are not already active, you should gradually increase your activity level to the recommended 30 minutes of activity 5-7 days a week.
Exercise in pregnancy has been shown to decrease the risk of postpartum depression, help maintain healthy weight during pregnancy, and help counter back pain in pregnancy. Spring is a great time to be active, so get out and get fit - pregnant or not!
Tamara Rolan is a certified nurse-midwife at St. Luke's Clinic – Nurse-Midwives and Women's Health.