"I hope to pack on a lot of pounds that I can't take off post-baby," said no mom-to-be ever. But women and their docs seem to be ignoring the scale. In our poll, 61 percent admit they're worried about gaining too many pounds. Yet 22 percent haven't discussed how much weight they should put on with their ob-gyn. In fact, more than one-third began pregnancy overweight or obese, but an astonishing 87 percent of these women say their physicians expressed no concern about it.
"You need to have a target and know how much weight you can gain each trimester," says ob-gyn Katharine White, M.D., director of the family planning fellowship at Boston University. "A lot of women, especially if it's their first pregnancy, don't realize that most of the pounds shouldn't go on until the last few months. If you gain a lot right out of the gate, you can increase your risk of delivering prematurely or having a very large baby and a complicated delivery." And having a high BMI when you conceive increases your risk of gestational diabetes, high blood pressure, and the likelihood you'll need a cesarean delivery. If your doctor doesn't bring up weight gain, you should—no matter what your current BMI. "Ask her how much is right for you overall, as well as ballpark goals for each trimester," Dr. White notes. If you are at a healthy weight to start, the recommended amount to gain is 25 to 35 pounds. If you are already overweight, aim for about 15 to 25 pounds. But don't attempt to shed pounds while pregnant. Instead make healthy food choices for the next nine months.