Gaining too much weight during pregnancy can hurt your baby and affect his health later in life. Studies indicate that about half of pregnant women gain more weight than recommended, which increases their risk of gestational diabetes, pre-eclampsia, and labor complications. Their babies are born smaller or larger than normal, and may develop heart disease, breathing difficulties, and blood clots.
The Dangers of Gaining Too Much Weight during Pregnancy
The recommended weight gain during pregnancy is 11 to 40 pounds for most women. Gaining too much or too little weight is bad for both the mom and her unborn child. Research also shows that gestational weight gain can affect children later in life, increasing their risk of diabetes, obesity, and cardiovascular problems.
In general, pregnant women gain too much weight because they they’ve taken “eating for two” just a tad too literally. This puts them at risk for:
• High blood pressure
• Greater difficulty losing weight after pregnancy
• Failure to start breastfeeding
• Problems at childbirth
• Emergency C-section
• Overweight babies
• Preterm birth
Children born to obese or overweight mothers are more likely to develop dangerously low blood sugar, heart defects, neural tube defects, high bilirubin levels, and chronic diseases. They also are at a higher lifetime risk for type II diabetes and obesity. Their risk of having a heart defect at birth is 15 percent higher.
How to Prevent Excess Pregnancy Weight Gain
The dangers of excess pregnancy weight gain should not be overlooked. The good news is that you can prevent these problems by watching your diet and exercise habits. First of all, determine how much weight you can expect to gain while pregnant. Secondly, calculate the minimum and maximum amount of calories required on a daily basis. Make sure your calories come from whole foods, not pizza, deli meats, ice cream, soda, and sugary treats.
Your diet should consist of fresh fruit, leafy green vegetables, nuts, seeds, fish, poultry, turkey, lean beef, and whole grains. Spinach, kale, chia seeds, white beans, and bok choy are high in calcium and other nutrients, so consume them regularly. Choose fat free and low fat dairy over whole versions, replace sugar with stevia, and eat small, frequent meals throughout the day.
Do a few stretches, yoga, or pilates a few times a week. Stay active and engage in fat-burning activities like jogging, cycling, brisk walking, and strength training. These simple steps will keep you fit while pregnant and increase your chances of giving birth to a healthy baby.