How weight gain during pregnancy can affect your baby

How weight gain during pregnancy can affect your baby

Gaining excessive pregnancy weight can translate to giving birth to heavier newborns, according to a new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The research showed that babies who are born to overweight or obese women are larger and have a higher risk of birth complications. The study examined 30,847 women in the United States, Europe and Australia who had given birth to one child between 1929 and 2013.

Researchers monitored the mothers’ body mass index (BMI), blood pressure, vitamin D intake and health-related issues. Those who had an elevated BMI and blood glucose levels had babies who weighed more than those with normal rates.

Body mass index is a rough estimate of a person’s body fat based on height and weight measurements. A BMI of 18.5 to 24.9 is considered normal, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Study results determined that each four-point increase in a woman’s BMI added an extra two ounces to a newborn’s birth weight.

“We want babies to be a healthy weight, not too heavy and not too light,” said Rachel Freathy, one of the study researchers, in a press release.

Doctors stress that women should continue to exercise and be physically active if possible throughout pregnancy. Regular exercise appears to benefit both mother and baby in many ways. The American Obstetrics and Gynecology Society recommends that under normal circumstances, healthy pregnant women may continue an already established exercise regimen.

“I tell every mother that they should maintain a healthy exercise routine and modify it as they progress through their pregnancy,” says Dr. April DeWhite, an obstetrician/gynecologist at Advocate Trinity Hospital in Chicago. “It will not only make them healthy–it will make the baby healthy, too.”

“Regular weight-bearing exercise has been shown to improve maternal fitness, restrict weight gain without compromising fetal growth and hasten postpartum recovery,” says Dr. DeWhite. “In addition, there are psychological benefits of feeling better mentally after working out, and excessive weight gain can be bad for the mother and baby.”

During low-level exercise, blood pressure and pulse responses are not dramatically different from those of non-pregnant woman, but fatigue may be noticed earlier during exercise, she says.

“It’s very important to make sure you have a good rhythm and don’t do anything to excess,” adds Dr. White. “If you have not exercised in a long time, you can start slowly and focus on eating nutritious meals. And don’t forget to have a list of questions for your obstetrician about exercise and diet when you go for appointments.”

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  1. Christine Cowen March 21, 2016 at 12:54 pm · Reply

    I believe another health problem associated with excessive weight gain can be disrupted sleep or sleep loss secondary to snoring, Upper Airway Resistance or even Obstructive Sleep Apnea.

    If Obstructive Sleep Apnea is present the mom and unborn baby may have oxygen desaturations during sleep.

    If any of these are present OSA, disruptive snoring and/or Upper Airway Resistance, mom may experience sleep loss. This it self can cause weight gain due to an increase in the hormone Ghrelin and a decrease in the hormone Leptin.

  2. Tobias Armstrong April 19, 2016 at 5:55 pm · Reply

    I think it makes a lot of sense that mothers who stay physically active throughout most of the pregnancy would give birth to healthier babies. My wife has always been pretty physically active for a long time, so when she gets pregnant, I’m not too worried about her staying active, but it’s good to know that it’s going to have a good effect on our children! Thanks for sharing!

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health enews Staff
health enews Staff

health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Health Care and Aurora Health Care sites, which also includes freelance or intern writers.