Results also showed the benefits of breastfeeding were not enough to overcome these weight-related factors.
A weight gain range of 25-35 pounds is traditionally recommended for women with a normal pre-pregnancy weight, or a body mass index (BMI) of 18.5-24.9. For women below or above this threshold, the recommendations are different.
“If you’re overweight or morbidly obese, then that 25-35 pounds is probably too much and a 5-10 pound weight gain for the whole pregnancy is probably more appropriate,” said Chapa. “A study like this shows that might be better for the child in terms of the child’s weight gain.”
Chapa said obesity and excessive weight gain during pregnancy are also associated with complications like gestational diabetes and preeclampsia, which can predispose children to disease later in life.
“If you are overweight, before you get pregnant, it would be a great idea to maybe try and lose some weight, get into better shape, work on your dietary habits and get into a regular exercise program,” said Chapa. “All of these things probably seem very simple, but their impact is tremendous.”
Chapa said exercise during pregnancy is safe, and helps prevent excessive weight gain, gestational diabetes and high blood pressure. However, it’s best to check with a doctor before starting any new exercise routine while pregnant.
Complete results of the study can be found in Preventive Medicine.
Cleveland Clinic News Service