Obese pregnant women at risk for bad advice

By Christine Boatwright • Published: January 29th, 2014
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Eating for two is a privilege only pregnant mothers-to-be get to enjoy. However, putting on too much weight during pregnancy can cause complications for both mother and baby. The weight gain can be worse if the pregnant mother was overweight or obese before she became pregnant.

Overweight or obese pregnant women are already at risk for complications such as miscarriage, stillbirth, high blood pressure, preeclampsia (pre-ah-CLAMP-see-ah) and gestational diabetes. Gaining too much weight can cause even more problems.

In a recent study, researchers from the Penn State College of Medicine discovered that health care providers sometimes advise overweight or obese women to gain too much weight during pregnancy. Physicians sometimes use guidelines for normal-weight women instead of adjusting the numbers for overweight or obese women.

A normal-weight woman should gain between 25 to 35 pounds, while an overweight woman should gain 15 to 25 pounds. Obese pregnant women should only gain between 11 and 20 pounds.

The study also showed that doctors were not advising pregnant women to exercise during their pregnancy. Guidelines call for pregnant women to get about two-and-a-half hours of moderate exercise a week, even if they weren’t very active before baby was on board.

The March of Dimes encourages pregnant women to exercise on most days. Walking, swimming, riding a stationary bike or taking pregnancy aerobic or yoga classes are safe forms of exercise during pregnancy. Everyone is different, though, so make sure to talk to your doctor before starting an exercise program.

However, even if you get exercise, those late-night cravings for chocolate ice cream and cookies can lead to unwanted weight gain, too. Even if the cookie’s call is alluring, for the health of both mother and baby, sometimes it is better to resist temptation.