Excessive prenatal weight gain has been tied to a lifetime of obesity for moms.
Gaining too much weight during pregnancy could more than quadruple your risk of being overweight decades after giving birth, according to new research presented before the International Congress On Obesity in Stockholm, Sweden, on July 14, 2010.
Conducted by researchers from Australia, the study tracked weight and other health statistics among a group of 2,026 Australian women who gave birth between 1981 and 1983. Researchers noted that a third of women had gained more weight than was recommended during pregnancy, a quarter gained too little weight and the remainder stayed within recommended prenatal weight gain guidelines. Following up with the women 21 years after giving birth, women who had gained too much weight during pregnancy were four times as likely to be obese and more than twice as likely to be overweight compared to women in the other two groups.
"For the last 40 years the whole issue in weight gain in pregnancy has worried about what it would do to the children. People didn't worry about what would happen to the mother, they would worry about what would happen to the babies. Now we have a huge amount of evidence that weight gain in pregnancy is important. We have to have obstetricians on the alert and seeing how do we control this weight gain" says Professor Philip James, chairman of the International Obesity Task Force (IOTF), in an interview with the UK's Telegraph newspaper.
Most women who deliver healthy babies gain somewhere between 25 and 35 pounds during pregnancy. This varies of course, depending on your body type and your weight before conception. How much do you have to eat to maintain a healthy weight gain?
According to the March of Dimes, most women generally need around 300 extra calories per day during pregnancy, though women entering pregnancy already overweight may need as little as 150 calories extra. Try adding one healthy snack to your normal diet, such as four fig bars and a glass of skim milk, a container of low-fat yogurt, or a slice of whole grain toast topped with a slice of cheese and sliced tomato, to keep your weight gain right on track.