Too Much Pregnancy Weight Linked to Child Obesity

New research out of the Netherlands shows an association between gaining too many pounds around your pregnancy and your child's weight later in life.

Too Much Pregnancy Weight Linked to Child Obesity

Add this to the list of things you're worrying about as a soon-to-be mama: Gaining too much weight while pregnant may be associated with having a heavier child, according to new research. A recent study published in the journal Pediatrics suggests that women who gain too much weight during and after pregnancy are not only putting their own health at risk, but they're increasing the risk of having an overweight or obese child. The research was conducted in the Netherlands on 3,300 Dutch children and their mothers and concluded that children who were born to mothers whose pregnancy weight gain was deemed "excessive" had 20 percent greater odds of being overweight.

"The reality is that if a woman has poorer lifestyle and eating habits, it's likely her child will pick that up and it can translate to his or her weight gain," says Jenny Jaque, M.D., chief of general obstetrics and gynecology at USC Keck School of Medicine. To nip this in the bud before your bud is even here, follow these tips from Dr. Jaque for gaining weight the healthy way during pregnancy.

1. Don't skip your prenatal visits. Your physician should have come up with a plan of about how much weight is healthy for you to gain during pregnancy. The weight gain range of 25 to 35 pounds is usually recommended for a normal, healthy-weight women. Your physician will be closely monitoring your weight throughout pregnancy and make recommendations if they're concerned. Some "extra pounds" on the scale could be anything from fluid retention to something more serious, like tumors. So make sure you go to every appointment, especially in the third trimester.

2. Get control of cravings. Yes, we know you're craving carbs and sweets during your pregnancy, but your body keeps craving these foods the more you keep eating them. If you eat more complex carbohydrates and protein (like tuna fish or peanut butter on whole wheat bread) your body won't keep having those cravings, Dr. Jaque says. If you're craving ice, paint, or other non-food items, let your doctor know since this could be a sign of an iron deficiency.

3. Create meals that are healthy and balanced. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends women visit ChooseMyPlate.gov to see what their meals should consist of and get healthy recipes.

4. Make your overall health a priority. Women who tend to gain too much weight during pregnancy don't usually have the healthiest lifestyle habits, Dr. Jaque says. This is not the time to be "eating for two," or let your diet become a "free for all," eating unhealthy foods and drinking sugary beverages, Dr. Jaque says. Establish and follow healthy eating and exercise patterns during pregnancy and afterward to set good examples for your children.

Related: How to Gain Pregnancy Weight the Healthy Way

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