How much weight should a pregnant woman gain?

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For some of us, becoming pregnant is like being handed a license to eat whatever we want, whenever we want. I personally only gained about 25 pounds when I was pregnant, but I gained it all within the first three months. After that initial free-for-all, I did settle down and stop pigging out. My weight leveled off and I actually lost a pound or two towards the end of my pregnancy. But had I continued to eat like that for the duration, I probably would have gained at least 60 pounds by the time it was all over.

According to the March of Dimes, carrying too much weight during pregnancy can increase the risk of birth defects, result in labor and delivery problems, and sometimes even cause fetal death. Since 1990, the the Institute of Medicine has recommended that women of 'normal' body mass index gain 25 to 35 pounds during pregnancy. Women with a higher BMI should only gain 15, and women with a lower BMI should gain up to 40 pounds.

Many physicians, including Dr. Raul Artal of the Saint Louis University School of Medicine, say these guidelines need to be revised to take into account the obesity epidemic in the U.S. "The reality is for too long we are telling pregnant women to take it easy during pregnancy, be confined and to eat for two," he said. "This has been one factor in causing the epidemic of overweight and obesity that we see in our country."

This fall, the Institute will being the process of gathering the necessary scientific data to determine if the guidelines should be changed. In the meantime, experts say women should continue to follow the existing guidelines.

How much weight did you gain when pregnant? Was it too much?

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.