Gaining weight during pregnancy is inevitable—after all, your body is carrying another human—but moms need to be careful about packing on unneeded pounds or extra "baby weight."
New research confirms that nearly half of women (47 percent) gain more than they should while pregnant, which can have a potentially negative impact on both the infant and mother.
Many professionals, including Dr. Karen Cooper, ob-gyn and director of the Cleveland Clinic's Be Well Moms program, believe misconceptions are to blame. "Most women feel that pregnancy is the time when weight does not matter and it is an opportunity to eat as much as desired," she said. "Most believe the myth that the weight will be lost quickly and easily after delivery."
The study, which was published in the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology, collected information from more than 44,000 mothers who gave birth between 2010 and 2011. The women were separated into categories based on whether their body mass index (BMI) were deemed underweight, at a normal weight, overweight, or obese.
Only 32 percent of the study's participants gained an amount that fell within the recommended guidelines for their weight category. According to Health Day, the "Institute of Medicine guidelines recommend gaining 25 to 35 pounds if normal weight at the start of pregnancy; 28 to 40 pounds if underweight; 15 to 25 pounds if overweight; and 11 to 20 pounds if obese at the start of pregnancy."
The findings showed a direct relationship between high BMI and more weight gain during pregnancy than was recommended. Those who were overweight or obese prior to becoming pregnant were two to three times more likely to gain excess weight, than those at a normal weight.
Not only does a mother's weight influence how large the newborn will be, but gaining too much weight can increase the risk of premature birth. The newborn is also more likely to develop conditions like hypertension and gestational diabetes, according to Dr. Cooper.
Experts do not recommend dieting during pregnancy, so it's best to regulate your weight by making health-conscious choices when it comes to eating food and staying active—and to not let any weight worries get the best of you.
Caitlin St John is an Editorial Assistant for Parents.com who splits her time between New York City and her hometown on Long Island. She's a self-proclaimed foodie who loves dancing and anything to do with her baby nephew. Follow her on Twitter: @CAITYstjohn
Weight and Pregnancy: Gain Only What You Need
Image: Pregnant belly via Shutterstock