7 Recommendations to Avoid Excess Weight During Pregnancy

Being overweight can be a problem for a healthy pregnancy. Here are some recommendations to avoid excess weight during pregnancy.
7 Recommendations to Avoid Excess Weight During Pregnancy

Last update: 14 February, 2023

Weight gain during pregnancy is normal, but it has its limits. How much a woman weighs when she becomes pregnant and how much she gains during the whole process are factors that affect the health of the mother and the baby. Therefore, we must be aware of the recommendations to avoid excess weight during pregnancy.

Some measurements, such as body mass index or BMI, give us information about weight control and if we’re at risk of complications. Excess weight during pregnancy can lead to hypertension, gestational diabetes, or cesarean delivery. In this article, we’ll give you some recommendations so that you can enjoy good health for both you and your baby.

How do I know if I am overweight?

The World Health Organization defines being overweight as having a body mass index (BMI) above 25. When the BMI is over 30, we’re talking about obesity. But what is BMI and how is it measured? It’s a measurement obtained by relating weight to height. To do this, you divide your current weight (in pounds or kilograms) by your height (in inches or meters squared).

So, to find out if you’re overweight or obese, you just need to weigh and measure yourself. Then, you should apply the following formula: BMI= Weight (kilograms or pounds)/Height (in meters or inches) squared.

What are the limits?

The National Institute of Medicine and National Research Council establishes the following scale for determining weight control during pregnancy:

  • Women with low pre-pregnancy weight (BMI less than 18.5), should gain between 28 to 40 pounds or 13 to 18 kilograms.
  • Women with normal weight before pregnancy (BMI between 18.5 to 24.9), should gain between 25 to 35 pounds or 11 to 16 kilograms.
  • Women who were overweight before pregnancy (BMI between 25 to 29.9), should gain 15 to 25 pounds or 7 to 11 kilograms.
  • Women with obesity before pregnancy (lower BMI greater than 30), should gain between 11 to 20 pounds or 5 to 9 kilos.

At the same time, the FAO/WHO/UN Committee of Experts in 2004 recommended that women should gain between 10 and 14 kilos during pregnancy to reduce the risk of maternal and fetal complications. Also, keep in mind that weight gain should be in line with pre-pregnancy weight.

An obese woman sleeping.
The differences in the scale of weight gain will depend on each individual woman, as each one has a different context and needs. For this reason, consultation with a professional is key.

Why should excess weight during pregnancy be avoided?

According to a group of specialists, gestational weight gain above that which has been established is considered a risk factor for the following cases:

  • Developing high blood pressure and preeclampsia. The latter appears when blood pressure figures are very high and the kidneys and liver are compromised.
  • Increased possibility of cesarean delivery. Complications of surgery may also appear when there’s obesity.
  • Gestational diabetes. In this case, there are two additional risks: Postpartum diabetes or the development of insulin resistance.
  • Miscarriage or stillbirth.

Other complications include sleep disorders, recurrent urinary tract infections, blood clotting, and breastfeeding problems, among others.

Take note of these recommendations to avoid being overweight during pregnancy

Excess weight during pregnancy should be avoided at all costs. To do so, we’ll offer you a series of recommendations.

Prioritize quality over quantity

Eating a balanced, varied, high-quality diet with adequate portions of each food group guarantees that the energy and nutritional demands of pregnancy will be met. That’s why it’s essential to receive guidance from a nutritionist who’ll help to make the best food selection.

For example, a good choice is quality proteins that carry essential amino acids, omega-3 fats, and carbohydrates. In addition, iron, calcium, zinc, vitamin D and B complex, which are trace elements that should be supplemented, shouldn’t be lacking in your menu plan.

Eat 5 or 6 times a day

The motto “eating for two” will lead to excess weight during pregnancy for sure. Therefore, meals should be distributed in small portions and several times a day. It’s important to have 5 to 6 meals distributed in 3 main meals and snacks in the morning, afternoon, or even at night. Eating some protein before bedtime will allow you to stay satiated in the morning.

By reducing portion sizes and distributing them throughout the day, digestion will improve, bloating will be reduced, and the urge to eat more than necessary will disappear.

Plan a healthy menu for each week

A healthy pregnancy menu includes the following:

  • Fresh, natural, or minimally processed foods, such as fruit and vegetable salads.
  • Proteins, such as fish, poultry, and lean cuts of beef, are the right choices for a weight-control menu.
  • The combination of soaked and sprouted legumes with cereals or whole wheat flour is a good source of protein without fat.
  • Carbohydrates of slow absorption are recommended, such as starch and dietary fiber of soluble or insoluble type.
  • Fats should be healthy, such as raw olive oil, canola oil, sunflower oil, flaxseed, avocado, and fatty fish.
  • Preparations should be healthy, such as steaming, grilling, baking, or sautéing. Frying and battered foods should be excluded.
  • Drink plenty of water to keep the renal function active and help the digestive process.

4. Include healthy snacks

A bowl of yogurt with granola, banana, and berries.
Including yogurt and nuts at snack time is a good option for a healthy diet during pregnancy.

The snacks that will be part of your diet plan should be as healthy as possible. For example, nuts, yogurt, or any other fermented dairy product, are a good option.

Likewise, whole-grain crackers, whole fruits or their unstrained juices, and homemade whole-grain cereal bars are also part of the group of healthy snacks.

Eat slowly and chew food well

It’s important to learn to eat slowly and chew each bite very well. This produces satiety and improves digestion.

Watch your weight from the beginning

Once you get the big news, you should weigh yourself every week or every 15 days to monitor changes in your weight. This way, you’ll modify your diet and habits according to the results. On the other hand, never go on hypocaloric diets during pregnancy, as it’s all about adapting the diet plan and discovering those critical points where there are excesses.

Maintain an exercise routine

As long as your obstetrician allows it, some moderate and safe exercises can be done to maintain optimal weight gain. For example, walking, swimming, or stationary cycling are good choices. Doing yoga also helps to keep the pregnant woman in control of her new lifestyle changes.

Consult with your nutritionist

At You Are Mom, we provide support and guidance so that you don’t exceed your weight gain limits. But the most effective recommendation is to consult with your dietitian nutritionist. Professionals are those who can guarantee the best diet plan to avoid excess weight during pregnancy.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.