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Most Women Gain Too Much Weight During PregnancyST. LOUIS -- Most pregnant women are packing on too many pounds, says the Saint Louis University gynecologist who helped draft the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists’ recommendations that encourage exercise during pregnancy.
“For too long, physicians have told patients to eat for two and not to move during pregnancy,” says Raul Artal, M.D., chair of the department of obstetrics and gynecology at Saint Louis University School of Medicine.
“I used to tell my patients to gain 30 pounds during a pregnancy. But I changed my recommendation when I noticed women are heavier than they used to be.”
Now Artal considers a woman’s current weight and the estimated size of the baby, among other factors, when he recommends how much weight she should gain during pregnancy.
"There’s no reason to pack on the pounds. The cost of pregnancy is anywhere between 150 and 300 calories a day,” Artal, a SLUCare obstetrician, says. “To put that into perspective, 120 calories is a glass of milk.”
Excessive weight gain isn’t good for moms, he says. It increases a woman’s risk of gestational diabetes and high blood pressure, which could lead to more complicated deliveries. It also usually means more cesarean-section deliveries because babies are larger.
Current guidelines by the Institute of Medicine call for women of normal weight to gain between 25 and 35 pounds during pregnancy, underweight women to gain up to 40 pounds and overweight women between 15 and 25 pounds. But Artal says those figures are too high.
“Between 20 and 25 pounds is probably too much weight for most women, considering 60 percent of the population is overweight or obese,” Artal says.
Artal tells his patients who are overweight to drastically limit their weight gain and follow a balanced diet to avoid consuming unnecessary calories.
“Pregnancy is an ideal time for behavior modification and not a time for confinement.”
Established in 1836, Saint Louis University School of Medicine has the distinction of awarding the first M.D. degree west of the Mississippi River. Saint Louis University School of Medicine is a pioneer in geriatric medicine, organ transplantation, chronic disease prevention, cardiovascular disease, neurosciences and vaccine research, among others. The School of Medicine trains physicians and biomedical scientists, conducts medical research, and provides health services on a local, national and international level.
SLUCare is the physician practice of Saint Louis University School of Medicine. For more information, call 314.977.4044 or 866.977.4440.
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