Excessive Gestational Weight Gain Associated With Postpartum Weight Retention

 A recent study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition has linked excessive weight gain during pregnancy with long-term body fat and the retention of the weight years after the baby has been born.

Pregnancy Weight Gain. Image Source: Pixabay

Putting on weight during pregnancy is natural and healthy. This is as a result of the changes that take place in your body. The breasts grow bigger and heavier, the uterus muscles grow, the blood and fluid levels in the body increase and the body stores extra fat to be used later for breastfeeding. Though the amount of weight gained varies from woman to woman, the Institute of Medicine has set a range for the healthy amount of weight that a woman needs to gain during pregnancy depending on whether they were underweight, normal or overweight before the pregnancy.

A woman with a normal weight should gain 25-35 pounds (11.5kg-16kg), underweight women should gain 28-40 pounds (13kg-18kg), overweight women should gain between 15 and 25 pounds (7kg-11.5kg), while obese women should gain 11-20 pounds (5kg-9kg).

More than 300 women were followed for 7 years after giving birth and the results of the study indicated that gaining more weight than these recommended guidelines led to long-term consequences regardless of whether the woman started out normal, or just slightly overweight. Excessive gestational weight gain in women who started out with a BMI of 22 had a 3% higher body fat and a postpartum weight retention of 5.6kg or higher, while women who started out at a BMI of 30 had 0.58% higher body fat and 2.06kg postpartum weight retention.

Gaining too much weight during pregnancy also comes with many short-term effects; it increases the risks of developing gestational diabetes, increases the size of the baby making labor more painful, increases back-pain and generally makes pregnancy more uncomfortable.

To ensure that you maintain a healthy weight during pregnancy, eat small meals throughout the day, snack healthily every three hours, eat lean protein, healthy fats, vegetables and complex carbohydrates, and remain active throughout the pregnancy. Yoga, swimming and walking are just some of the most effective physical activities that an expecting woman can enjoy. They’ll keep your body energized and do away with the pains and discomforts associated with pregnancy.

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