Pregnancy and BMI Measurements: New Guidelines Released

“Hey, I’m eating for two”.  Words expressed, or in similar form,  every day by expecting moms around the world no doubt.  New guidelines are indicating how much weight women should gain during pregnancy – and the answer is…surprisingly little if they’re overweight prior to pregnancy.

Just last month the Institute of Medicine, in the first national recommendations on pregnancy and weight since 1960, basically said: Be at a healthy weight before you become pregnant.  How important is it?  Plenty – less chance of diabetes, pregnancy-related high blood pressure, and get this:  statistics show less chance of of the need for the dreaded C-section.  

And that’s not all…it’s best for the bambinos too.  Babies born to overweight moms run a heightened risk of premature birth, and surprisingly, becoming overweight later themselves.  But let’s get real with these important statistics by looking at them in context. 

  • About 55% of women in the childbearing ages are overweight. 
  • Roughly half of all pregnancies are unplanned.

Here’s a quick summary of the new recommendations by the Institute of Health:

  • A normal-weight woman is defined as having a BMI reading (Body-Mass-Index) of 18.5 – 24.9, and should gain between 25-35 lbs. during pregnancy.
  • An over-weight woman is defined as having a BMI reading of 25-29.9, and should gain 15-25 lbs. while pregnant.
  • Here’s a “zinger” – For the first time , the Institute of Health defined obese-category women as having a BMI of 30 or higher, and as such should gain 11-20 lbs during pregnancy.
  • Underweight women, those having a BMI less than 18.5,  should gain 28-40 lbs during pregnancy.

Pregnancy is no time to lose weight, rather the guidelines are meant to emphysize the need to establish where the mom is at, and then start gaining accordingly.  The new guidelines state overweight and obese women should gain about 1/2 lb. per week, and underweight or normal-weight women should gain 1 lb. per week during pregnancy.  Of course, pregnancy with twins are addressed in the recommendations with higher weight gain ranges.  Other parts of the world have different nutritional and obstetric needs, and are not covered by the recommendations.  Providers should look at the pregancy period as an optimal “teaching moment” to discuss weight issues that can be a difficult subject at other times, and reinforce that breastfeeding is not only best for the baby, but will actually help mom shed pounds after the pregnancy too.

1 Response to “Pregnancy and BMI Measurements: New Guidelines Released”


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