Pregnancy Weight Gain

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Pregnancy is divided into three trimesters, with each trimester lasting three months, or approximately thirteen weeks (a normal pregnancy lasts 40 weeks). Recommendations for weight gain during pregnancy are based on the Institute of Medicine (IOM) definitions of prepregnancy BMI range. The BMI is defined as weight in pounds, divided by height in inches, divided by height in inches, multiplied by 703 (or weight in kilograms, divided by height in centimeters, divided by height in centimeters, multiplied by ten-thousand). The majority of weight gain should occur in the second and third trimesters. Weight gain can vary greatly in normal pregnancies with normal birth outcomes. Few studies have included women in their first trimester, so the importance of first-trimester weight gain on pregnancy outcome is unclear. However, a slow and steady rate of weight gain is considered ideal. The current recommended weight gain for the BMI ranges are outlined in the accompanying figure.

Poor weight gain during pregnancy is associated with prematurity, low birth weight, and small for gestational age. Among normal-weight women, weight gain above the recommended level corresponds to maternal fat stores and is not of benefit to fetal growth. In other words, fat gain during pregnancy parallels gestational weight gain, and women with greater weight gain also gain more fat. In addition, an inverse relationship exists between pre-pregnancy BMI and weight gain during pregnancy: women with a low pre-pregnancy BMI tend to gain more weight than women with a high pre-pregnancy BMI. On average, overweight women gain less weight than their thinner counterparts, though it is not unusual for obese women to achieve normal birth outcomes with less than the recommended weight gain.

incidence: number of new cases reported each year diet: the total daily food intake, or the types of foods eaten fortified: altered by addition of vitamins or minerals overweight: weight above the accepted norm based on height, sex, and age obese: above accepted standards of weight for sex, height, and age


(Approximately 2200 calories)

Bread Group (one serving= 1 slice bread, % cup cereal, noodles, or rice)

Fruit Group (one serving = % cup fruit/fruit juice or one medium fruit)

Vegetables Group (One serving = % cup cooked or one cup raw)

Meat Group (one ounce chicken, beef, etc.)

Milk Group (one serving = 1 cup milk, 1 ounce cheese)

Total Fat (grams)*

Total added sugars (teaspoons)*

73 2

obesity: the condition of being overweight, according to established norms based on sex, age, and height calorie: unit of food energy sedentary: not active lifestyle: set of choices about diet, exercise, job type, leisure activities, and other aspects of life nutrient: dietary substance necessary for health glucose: a simple sugar; the most commonly used fuel in cells diabetes: inability to regulate level of sugar in the blood hypertension: high blood pressure homeostasis: regulation of the proper internal state

* Values for total fat and added sugars Include fat and added sugars that are In food choices from the five major food groups, as well as fat and added sugars from foods In the fats, oils, and sweets group.

SOURCE: USDA Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion.

In adolescent pregnancies, there are no established BMI recommendations regarding prepregnancy weight and weight gain. Excess weight gain, however, has been associated with postpartum obesity in adolescents.

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