Instead of asking how much weight they should gain during pregnancy, some overweight moms may want to ask their doctors if they are better off losing weight before their due dates. A study from Sweden found it to be safe—and even beneficial—for some obese moms-to-be to shed pounds while pregnant.
Overweight women are considered obese when they have a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or greater. During pregnancy, current guidelines from the US Institute of Medicine (IOM) recommend that obese women gain anywhere from 11 to 20 pounds, or almost half the recommended prenatal weight gain for average-size moms. However, in their study of more than 46,000 very obese pregnant women who gave birth between 1993 and 2008, researchers found that when obese women with BMIs over 35 gained less than the recommended amount, or even lost weight, their babies who were just as healthy as most other newborns.
What's more, MSNBC reports, pregnant obese women who lost weight or gained less than the recommended amount were also less likely to have a large newborn or need a C-section. Among very obese women with BMIs over 40, for example, 17 percent of those who lost weight had a C-section, versus 24 percent of those who gained the IOM-recommended amount.
Lose or gain? Study lead author Marie Blomberg is quick to caution women against starting any kind of weight-loss diet during pregnancy. Instead, she told MSNBC, moms-to-be should aim to eat a balanced, healthy prenatal diet, and get regular moderate exercise, like a half-hour of walking each day. Obese pregnant women should also talk with their own doctor about any diet and lifestyle changes they might need to make and what weight gain amount is best for them, Blomberg strongly encourages.
Dr. Manny Alvarez, medical expert and health commentator, thinks this study finally brings to light that prenatal weight gain recommendations are something that must be customized for every woman, regardless of how much she weighs. "The whole mythology of pregnancy weight gain fixed on just a number has been turned around completely, and now obstetricians must focus on the initial weight of an expecting mom and decide the best course of action from there," he tells Fox News.