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Weight Gain Recommendations for Pregnant Women


The Institute of Medicine has updated its recommendations for weight gain during pregnancy. It is healthier for a woman to be of normal weight prior to getting pregnant, but the trend across the United States has been toward higher BMI’s in the population.

The agency had given earlier guidelines that recommended a weight gain during pregnancy of 15 to 25 pounds for overweight women, 25 to 35 pounds for normal women, and 28 to 40 pounds for underweight women. The latest report adds the recommendation that obese women should gain only 11 to 20 pounds during pregnancy.

The update also uses the World Health Organization and National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute ranges for BMI instead of the Metropolitan Life Insurance tables used in the 1990 recommendations. These are more conservative, with the underweight BMI category starting at 18.5 instead of 19.8.

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Weight gained during pregnancy can lead to gestational diabetes and other complications of pregnancy. The added weight can also be difficult to lose after delivery. Pregnant women should eat health, but not eat for two. They need only eat for 1.1. Remember how small the fetus/infant is compared to an adult.

The researchers said they believed the new recommendations should be applicable to all women, across all racial or ethnic groups, but recommended additional research to confirm the hypothesis.

Though there was less evidence for twins than single baby, researchers said normal weight women expecting twins should gain 37 to 54 pounds, while overweight women should gain 31 to 50 pounds, and obese women, 25 to 42 pounds. There was insufficient information for underweight women.

Institute of Medicine Report (May 2009)