(Springfield, MO) -- Putting on weight is normal for every woman during pregnancy, but for women who are obese, it can cause health risks for both mom and baby.
According to local obstetricians, more and more of the patients they see are overweight.
"Initially I didn't think I would gain so much," says soon-to-be mother Elizabeth Walker.
She has let nature take its course for her first pregnancy.
"Even though I try to eat healthy, I still have that occasional craving for chocolate or ice cream."
Although she says the scale can be scary, she's maintained her recommended weight.
But according to St. John's obstetrician Andrea Greiner, a quarter to one-third of the patients she sees are overweight at the start of their pregnancy.
"If they gain too much weight, they can have babies that are too big."
It's something she calls imprinting -- obese moms passing on health risks like high blood pressure and diabetes to their newborns.
"They have low blood sugars when they're born, they're more likely to be in the hospital for a prolonged period of time," says Greiner.
For moms like Elizabeth, Greiner recommends gaining at least 15 pounds, but for overweight women, no more than 20.
"You really don't have to eat for two, just an extra 300-400 calories a day is more than adequate."
And about shedding that extra baby weight, Greiner says it should take all women the same amount of time as putting it on.
So while Elizabeth's baby is growing, she'll be making sure her waistline no longer is.
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