Health Risks of Unhealthy Weight Gain in Pregnancy

Unhealthy Weight Gain in Pregnancy
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Careless eating when pregnant can lead to a range of health complications and dangers for both the mother and her new baby. Here is a brief guide to the risks associated with unhealthy levels of weight gain.

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Women who do not gain enough weight during their pregnancy have an increased risk for delivering babies with low birth weights (less than 2500 gm, or 5.52 pounds). The National Institutes of Health regards low birth weight to be a major public health problem in the United States. Low birth weight is a significant cause of infant mortality, as well as many physical, and psychological problems in childhood.

Too Much Weight Increase

Pregnant women who gain too much weight also suffer health problems. Excess weight can cause backache, leg pain, varicose veins, and extreme tiredness. It can also cause hypertension and diabetes. Lastly, it can be more difficult to lose after delivery, contributing to long term risk of obesity.

Excessive weight gain can also lead to health problems for the baby. Technically, an overweight baby weighs more than 4500 gm, or 9.9 lbs. Large babies make vaginal deliveries difficult, increasing the the risk for cesarean section. There is also an association between birth weight and adult weight: studies show that an overweight baby is more likely to be overweight in adulthood.

When Should Weight Gain Occur During Pregnancy

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) advises that Moms-to-be should gain 2-4 pounds in the first three months of their pregnancy and then 3-4 pounds per month for the remaining six months. A total weight gain of about 25 to 30 pounds, with most weight being gained in the last trimester.

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