FRIDAY, Feb. 28, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Overweight or obese pregnant women who believe they are "eating for two" are more likely to gain too much weight, a new study shows.
Researchers cautioned that gaining too much weight during pregnancy could lead to long-term weight problems, as well as premature delivery. They suggested that women be counseled on their weight gain limits before or shortly after they become pregnant.
"Women who closely monitor their weight gain during pregnancy can prevent future complications," study leader Cynthia Chuang, an associate professor of medicine and public health sciences at Penn State College of Medicine, said in a university news release.
In conducting the study, the researchers questioned 29 overweight or obese women who had recently given birth about their diet, whether or not they had morning sickness, and when they exercised during their pregnancy.
Experts recommend that women who are a normal weight gain 25 to 35 pounds during pregnancy. Overweight women should gain 15 to 25 pounds, and obese women should gain only 11 to 20 pounds.
The women who gained more than the recommended amount of weight believed they were "eating for two." The researchers noted these women exercised less than usual while they were pregnant, made less healthy food choices and gave in to their cravings.
Meanwhile, the women who gained the recommended amount of weight during their pregnancy followed a meal plan and were careful about their food choices. They also didn't increase the amount of calories they consumed daily and exercised just as much or more as they did before they became pregnant.
"Overall, the women were more goal-oriented in terms of regulating weight during pregnancy," Chuang noted.
Although about half of the women kept track of their weight gain throughout their pregnancy, none of the women who gained too much weight got the recommended 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise each week.
Women who are a normal weight should consume only 300 extra calories per day while pregnant, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Women who are overweight or obese should consume even fewer extra calories.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has more on staying healthy during pregnancy.