Why Your Pregnancy Weight Gain May Need to Be Higher

December 20, 2013  |  

When a woman gets pregnant, she often worries how much weight she’s going to gain and if she’ll ever be able to lose it all. But doctors are worried that some women aren’t gaining enough weight–and that can be bad for baby. In fact, a new study from the University of Maryland School of Maryland found that women who don’t gain enough weight during their pregnancy are at a high risk of losing their baby in the first year of life.

In the study of 159,244 mothers between 2004 and 2008, doctors found a strong correlation between the risk of infant mortality and weight gain:

Infant mortality risks in the study sample were 3.9% among infants of mothers who gained an inadequate amount of weight during pregnancy, 1.2% among infants of mothers who gained an adequate amount of weight, and .7% among mothers who gained more than the recommended amount.

Women who are underweight to begin with face the most risk when they do become pregnant. One of the study’s authors explained, “Our study showed that gaining too little weight during pregnancy is a risk factor for infant mortality for all but the heaviest women.” The doctors involved in the research suggest women work with their doctors to set weight goals related to their individual BMI.

Only about a third of women in the United States gain a healthy amount of weight during their pregnancies. If you’re not gaining enough weight during your pregnancy, the National Institutes of Health recommends the following:

  • Don’t skip meals. Instead of eating 3 big meals, eat 5 – 6 small meals every day.
  • Keep quick, easy snacks on hand. Nuts, raisins, cheese and crackers, dried fruit, and ice cream or yogurt are good choices.
  • Spread peanut butter on toast, crackers, apples, bananas, or celery. One tablespoon of creamy peanut butter will provide about 100 calories and 7 grams of protein.
  • Add nonfat powdered milk to foods such as mashed potatoes, scrambled eggs, and hot cereal.
  • Add butter or margarine, cream cheese, gravy, sour cream, and cheese to your meals.
  • Try to eat more foods that are high in good fats, such as nuts, fatty fish, avocados, and olive oil.
  • Drink juices made from real fruit that are high in vitamin C or beta carotene. Grapefruit juice, orange juice, papaya nectar, apricot nectar, and carrot juice are good choices.
  • Avoid junk food.
  • As your health care provider about taking prenatal vitamins and other supplements.

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