It’s hard to lose weight after giving birth but obese women who gain more than the recommended weight during pregnancy may have an even harder time losing it, according to the largest study in the U.S. to examine the relationship between weight gain and pregnancy and weight retention.
The study, which was funded by the Centers for Disease Control, charted the weight loss progress of more than 1,600 obese pregnant women. The investigators found that 75 percent of the pregnant women gained too much weight during their pregnancy and the more weight they gained, the less chances they had at taking it off after giving birth.
In 2009, The Institute of Medicine recommended that obese women gain no more than 11 to 20 pounds during pregnancy. Normal weight women are encouraged to gain 25 to 35 pounds.
According to Science Daily, the study found that, on average, women retained 40 percent of the weight they gained during pregnancy twelve months following giving birth. For instance, if a woman gained 20 pounds during pregnancy, she would still be carrying around eight of those pounds one year after delivery.
This study has important implications for pregnant women who are going into their pregnancy as overweight or obese. This extra weight increases risk for weight-related pregnancy complications like gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, delivering injuries, overweight babies and C-sections. And given the work involved in taking care of an infant, finding the time to exercise and eat right becomes less of a priority for many new moms.
Lifestyle habits like a proper pregnancy diet and exercise are tough to change, but if actions are taken during pregnancy or even pre-pregnancy so that obese women have the information and motivation to help them stay within their healthy weight-gain guidelines, then the outcome becomes a much healthier picture for both mom and baby.