Canadian women of reproductive age are significantly heavier than in the past and one third of women now enter pregnancy overweight (BMI > 25) or obese (BMI > 30) and this is associated with poorer pregnancy outcomes. Overall, many Canadian women are gaining weight outside their recommended ranges as defined by their pre-pregnancy BMI during pregnancy.
The Institute of Medicine (IOM) released the report Weight Gain During Pregnancy: Re-examining the Guidelines in 2009 to address excessive weight gain during pregnancy. This report found excess gestational weight gain is associated with adverse maternal and child health outcomes such as increased caesarean section rates, pre-term births, large-for gestational-age infants (>90th percentile for gestational age), macrosomic infants (4.0 – 4.5 kilograms) and postpartum weight retention.
Postpartum weight retention, one of the most important findings of the IOM (2009) report, increases the likelihood of entering a future pregnancy at a higher BMI. These women are then at additional risk of pregnancy and birth complications and at increased risk of chronic diseases related to being overweight and obese.
Health Canada has adopted the report in 2009 and revised their guidelines for gestational weight gain for Canadian women. A background document for health professionals Eating Well and Being Active: Towards a Healthy Weight Gain During Pregnancy was released this past October 2010. To help with the implementation of thenew recommendations, Health Canada has developed and consulted on web-based and print information to educate women on healthy weight gains and how healthy weight gains can be achieved. These resources are expected to be available starting in early in 2011 and will be available to patients of S.O.F.T. soon after their release.
Many factors affect healthy lifestyle practices and our role as health professionals is to provide women with individualized advice as well as tools and resources to support gaining the appropriate amount of weight during pregnancy. Heathy weight gain during pregnancy optimizes positive birth outcomes, prevents postpartum weight retention and improves long-term health.
To view and download the background document, visit Health Canada’s Prenatal Nutrition pages.
Adapted from Health Canada’s Guidelines Eating Well and Being Active: Towards a Healthy Weight Gain During Pregnancy. Information also from Hélène Lowell’s article Health Canada’s revised prenatal nutrition guidelines: process overview and implementation issues published in the Dietitians of Canada Paediatric Nutrition Network Newsletter Volume 9 Number 2 released October 2010 and the Institute of Medicine’s Report Weight Gain During Pregnancy: Reexamining the Guidelines published in 2009.
Visit the My Pregnancy Tool page for more resources on your pregnancy.
Read Other Articles by Jessica Ferris in the My Nutrition Tool