Yes, that’s the recommendation from the Institute of Medicine—get as fit as possible before getting pregnant…..nice research study but personal trainers have been giving this advice for decades!

pregnant woman walking

This is the first national recommendations on pregnancy weight since 1990.  According to the study, a fitter mother has less risks for high blood pressure or diabetes.  And, babies born to overweight mothers have a greater risk of premature birth or of later becoming overweight themselves, among other concerns.

The recommendations from the Institute of Medicine:

1.  A normal-weight woman, as measured by BMI or body mass index, should gain between 25 and 35 pounds during pregnancy.  A normal BMI, a measure of weight for height, is between 18.5 and 24.9.

2.  An overweight woman, BMI 25 to 29.9, should gain 15 to 25 pounds during pregnancy.

3.  For the first time, the guidelines set a standard for obese women, BMI of 30 or higher: 11 to 20 pounds.

4.  An underweight woman, BMI less than 18.5 should gain 28 to 40 pounds.

My advice about BMI:  BMI does have some limitations because it doesn’t take into account a person’s body type.  For instance, a woman with high muscle mass could actually have a healthy weight but be considered overweight or obese according to BMI standards.  So, seek advice about measuring body fat (where you are fat) from your personal trainer.

The guidelines say women expecting twins can gain more: 37 to 54 pounds for a normal-weight woman, 31 to 50 pounds for the overweight, 25 to 42 pounds for the obese. There’s not enough information to set recommendations for triplets or more.

The Institute stressed that the guidelines are aimed at U.S. women, not for parts of the world with different nutritional and obstetric needs.

What about staying fit while you are pregnant?

IFBB Figure Pro Christine Pomponio-Pate gives her “Top 5 Tips for a Fit Pregnancy” in a Muscle&Fitness Hers November/December 2008 article:

1. Drink plenty of water. Drinking water is a good idea while working out–especially while pregnant. I drank at least a gallon of water a day before I gave birth. It was important for not only my health but also my baby’s health. Staying hydrated during pregnancy assists in transportation of nutrients to your baby. Drinking water will also help prevent bladder infections, which can be dangerous if you’re pregnant.

2. Calorie and food intake. During pregnancy you often hear the excuse, “I’m eating for two.” That’s not a free pass to eat anything you want. You need only 200-300 more calories a day than normal during pregnancy, but those calories should still be of the healthy variety.

You also need healthy carbs, so even as a competitor, this isn’t the time to “carb deplete.” Make sure you continue to eat plenty of protein and also include healthy fats. Omega-3s are very important for a fetus’ healthy brain development.

While staying away from certain fish and high amounts of peanuts/peanut butter (since they’re thought to possibly cause peanut allergies in babies), you can still find great sources of omegas. I ate plenty of fruits, vegetables and whole grains, which provided the folic acid that’s extremely important in preventing birth defects.

3. Weight Training. Weight training is perfectly safe and also healthy to do while pregnant. Yet it’s important to listen to your body and not do anything in the gym that makes you uncomfortable. While pregnant, you should avoid lying in the faceup position.

Don’t do any moves that require you to lie flat on your back or–obviously–on your stomach. There are certain core exercises you can do, but you should avoid doing crunches, even into early post-pregnancy. You don’t want to permanently damage the muscles that aren’t yet healed, especially if you had a Caesarean section.

4. Cardio. It’s a great idea to do cardio while pregnant. I often did two-a-days because the cardio made me feel better. It relieved morning sickness and helped energize me throughout the day. On the days I missed cardio, I often felt tired and nauseous. Keep a close eye on your heart rate, and don’t overexert yourself while performing your cardio routine.

5. Watch dangerous chemicals; add more natural foods. During my pregnancy, I was the healthiest I’ve ever been. I attribute my good health in large part to what I was eating and products I was using on my skin.

Christine also was very careful about being exposed to and breathing house-cleaning products, switching to all-natural products. And, she began eating organic foods, such as milk, eggs and meats. Finally, caffeine and artificial sweeteners were off limits.

Of course, follow your doctor’s orders to tailor your care and feeding to your specific needs.

Get fit and stay fit, whether pregnant or not—that’s my recommendation!

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Mark Dilworth, BA, PES
Her Fitness Hut

Lifestyle and Weight Management Specialist
Certified Nutrition Coach and Nutrition for Metabolic Health Specialist. Since 2006, I have helped thousands of clients and readers make lifestyle habit changes that helps you to achieve better long-term health, which includes body transformation and ideal body weight.
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2 thoughts on “How to Stay Fit Before and During Pregnancy

  1. Another nice article. I’ve noticed that a lot of pregnant women think that they have to completely cut out all types of exercise as it is not safe. As the article points out, this is definitely not the case.

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