Does Diet Affect Having a Large Baby?

No woman looks forward to giving birth to a 10-pound behemoth, but you have a family history of large babies and the future is looking bleak. You might be wondering if there are any dietary changes you can make to have an average-size baby; however, while diet can have some effect on the size of your baby, other factors typically are at play in the case of large babies.

Pregnant woman eating a salad while standing in the kitchen (Image: Wavebreakmedia/iStock/Getty Images)

Birth Weight Factors

Diet does affect the size of your baby during pregnancy, but it’s not as much about what you eat as how much weight you gain. The larger you grow throughout your pregnancy, the larger your baby likely will be, according to the Children’s Hospital of Boston. Another common reason for having a large baby -- one weighing more than 8 pounds -- is having large parents. If you are large, your partner is large and your parents are large, your chances of having a large baby are greater.

Gestational Diabetes

Gestational diabetes develops in mid- to late pregnancy and causes high blood sugar. Those at the greatest risk of developing gestational diabetes include women over the age of 25 and nonwhite women. If you do develop gestational diabetes, you are likely to have a large baby. While the cause of gestational diabetes is unknown, according to the MayoClinic.com, the condition often can be controlled through diet and exercise. To minimize the effects of gestational diabetes, your doctor will provide you with weight gain goals and you will be encouraged to eat more fruits, vegetables and whole grains to keep your blood sugar under control.

Malnutrition

Diet is hugely important during pregnancy. While no one food or nutrient can prevent you from having a large baby, a lack of nutrition might result in a low birth weight baby. To ensure that your baby is not underweight, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists stresses the importance of calcium, iron, vitamins A, C, D, B-6, B-12 and folate in your diet during pregnancy. These nutrients can be obtained by eating a diet balanced with fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meats and dairy products.

Weight Gain

To ensure that your child is neither too large nor too small, it is important to monitor your weight gain throughout your pregnancy. The Institute of Medicine has determined that if you were underweight before getting pregnant, you should gain 28 to 40 pounds throughout the course of your pregnancy. If you were average weight, you should gain 25 to 35 pounds. If you were overweight, you need to gain 15 to 25 pounds in the coming months. Finally, if you were obese before becoming pregnant, you should gain 11 to 20 pounds while pregnant. Observing these weight gain goals will optimize your chances of having a happy and healthy 7-pound bundle of joy.

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