For the first time in 20 years, the Institute of Medicine updated the guidelines on how much weight gain is acceptable during pregnancy. While I’m glad the medical profession is making the effort to address the growing challenge of obesity during pregnancy, I think we need to do more to reach out to our expectant mothers with the information they need to make healthy nutritional choices during pregnancy.
The new guidelines specify acceptable weight gain ranges for women of all sizes based on their body mass index (BMI), and the ranges now include a category for obese women. This addresses a worrying trend in the U.S., where our waistlines are expanding rapidly and causing more health concerns. The average total weight gain during pregnancy in the 1940s thru the 1960s was just under twenty pounds. By the 1970s, and into the 1990s, it had jumped-to twenty-six to thirty-one pounds. And it has continued to rise – one of several factors prompting release of the new guidelines.
As a physician, I’m happy we have new guidelines, but we need to do a better job of communicating the ranges to our patients and tailoring our recommendations to each expectant mother. In a recent large study of American women, 27 percent were given no advice on how much weight to gain over the course of their pregnancies. Among those who did get advice, many got a generic number, not a weight range tailored to their particular situation. This resulted in 14 percent being told to gain less than they really should and 22 percent being told to gain more than they should. Doctors should take time to explain the ranges and give patients the facts behind the recommendations. It’s part of our job to help bring healthy, happy babies into this world.
Feeding Baby Green includes these new guidelines and everything you need to know about giving your baby the best start by how you eat during pregnancy (and nursing). It makes a bigger difference than most people think.
Click here for Eating for Two: A Guide to Mother’s Nutrition During Pregnancy.