Weight



Why is my weight a consideration for getting pregnant?

What's the best way to achieve and maintain a healthy weight?

What if I think I have an eating disorder?



Why is my weight a consideration for getting pregnant?

A healthy body weight promotes general health and reduces the likelihood of developing heart disease, some cancers, and diabetes. Achieving and maintaining a healthy weight is making an investment in your health, your pregnancy health, the health of your future baby, and the well-being of your growing family.

Weight can affect a woman's fertility. Studies have shown that a woman's ability to become pregnant may be severely compromised by two weight-related extremes: excessive thinness and excessive obesity.

Once you do get pregnant, your weight can affect the baby. Underweight women often have smaller babies. Infants with low birthweight (weigh 2500 grams/5-1/2 pounds or less) are at a greater risk of death within the first month of life, as well as increased risk for developmental disabilities and illness throughout their life.

Overweight women may suffer from medical problems, such as high blood pressure and diabetes, that can seriously complicate a pregnancy.  If you are overweight, you have a higher risk of having a baby with certain birth defects (like neural tube defects), experiencing more difficulty during labor and delivery, delivering via cesarean section, and hemorrhaging.

While you are planning your pregnancy is the best time to try to reduce your risks through good nutrition and exercise.  We strongly recommend that you take the time now, before you become pregnant, to assess your diet and eating patterns and begin to make changes that will help you achieve a healthy weight before you conceive.  Once you become pregnant, you should not try to lose weight as it could harm your baby.

What's the best way to achieve and maintain a healthy weight?

The most reliable and safest way to achieve and maintain a healthy weight is to establish two essential good habits:
  • Good nutrition: Healthy eating is always a factor in good health, but it becomes even more important when you are planning to have a baby.
  • Regular exercise/physical activity: Establishing a regular exercise program or a pattern of moderate physical activity before pregnancy provides important benefits during pregnancy and birth.

Visit our resources page for help understanding healthy body weight.

What if I think I have an eating disorder?

If you have or think you might have an eating disorder such as anorexia nervosa (a psychological disorder in which a person's refusal to eat and/or an extreme loss of appetite leads to malnutrition, severe weight loss, and possibly death) or bulimia nervosa (episodic binge eating, often followed by forced vomiting or laxative abuse, and accompanied by a persistent preoccupation with body shape and weight) or if you are very overweight or underweight, we recommend that you see a health care provider as soon as possible. These conditions can seriously affect your own health, your ability to become pregnant, and the health of your baby. Go to our resources section for further information, help, and referrals.

Most recent page update: 10/26/2012


© 2014 National Partnership for Women & Families. All rights reserved.

Founded in 1918, Childbirth Connection has joined forces with and become a core program of the National Partnership for Women & Families. Together, these two women's health powerhouses are transforming maternity care in the United States.
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