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Gwynn Cassidy

Former Executive director at The Global SHE Initiative

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Pregnancy Weight-Gain Guidelines Updated to Reflect More Obese Moms

Pregnancy Weight-Gain Guidelines Updated to Reflect More Obese Moms

Pregnancy & Postpartum

This article has been archived. We will no longer be updating it. For our most up-to-date information, please visit our pregnancy information here.

Alicia P. recently wrote me confused about how much weight she should gain during her pregnancy. Specifically she asked,

"I'm 5'4" and weigh over 210lbs which technically puts me in the "obese" category. I'm 13 weeks pregnant and have already gained 10lbs. Is that OK? I've heard pregnant women should gain only 20 during their entire pregnancy so I'm a little worried. What's the deal?"

According to updated guidelines from the Institute of Medicine, obese women should only gain between 11 and 20 pounds when they become pregnant.

The recommendation builds on the agency's earlier advice that overweight women gain 15 to 25 pounds, normal-weight women add 25 to 35 pounds, and underweight women pack on 28 to 40 pounds during pregnancy. While the adjustments for the three existing weight categories were relatively subtle, the decision to add a separate category for obese women was necessary because both obesity and weight gain during pregnancy have both surged among women across the country, the authors of the report say.

Central to the guidelines are body mass index ranges. BMI, a ratio of weight to height, is a common formula used to measure obesity.

The new guidelines use BMI ranges set by the World Health Organization and the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute; the 1990 guidelines instead used recommendations from Metropolitan Life Insurance tables. The new ranges are more conservative, with the underweight category starting at a BMI of 18.5 instead of 19.8. Read the entire article on

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