by Marion Nestle
Aug 15 2007

How Much Weight Should Pregnant Women Gain?

I can’t believe that doctors are still arguing about how much weight women should gain during pregancy. A big Institute of Medicine report in 1990 seemed to have settled the question. It said that the amount you should gain depends on how much you weigh before getting pregnant. On average, women of normal weight should gain 25-35 pounds, underweight women could gain up to 40 pounds, and overweight women should restrict weight gain to 15 pounds. Doctors are now worried that the upper limits are so high that they encourage women to gain so much that they can’t lose it afterward. These doctors want the guidelines revisited. Perhaps they should be. I had my children in the era when normal weight women like me were advised not to gain more than 15 pounds and the doctors yelled at us if we gained a pound or more between appointments. Those of us who followed the advice, dieted during pregnancy (yikes!), and didn’t gain so much had smaller babies than women do now. Weighing more–up to a point–is better for babies. It will be interesting to see how the new Institute of Medicine committee manages to balance the benefits of heavier infants against too heavy a weight gain in the moms. Weight recommendations have changed drastically in my lifetime and the advice still isn’t settled.