Being underweight can cause certain health risks in general.  This is especially true for a woman who is underweight who becomes pregnant.  It is important to understand the ways in which being underweight can affect your pregnancy.

Once concern for women who are underweight during pregnancy is the possibility that their bodies won’t get enough in the way of nutrition. There are some specific nutrients and vitamins, such as Vitamin A, Vitamin E, Vitamin K and Vitamin B2 that you need to have for your baby to grow and develop. certain minerals are important, too, including iron, copper, calcium and zinc. If you don’t get enough of these nutrients, you can be facing a pregnancy that results in birth defects or another problem.

The biggest risk involved for a woman who is underweight and pregnant is the risk of not getting enough nutrients.  There are key nutrients, such as folic acid, Vitamins A, E, K, and B2, and minerals such as iron, copper, calcium, and zinc that a woman who is expecting must have in order to have a successful pregnancy.  If, for example, if your diet is not providing enough folic acid, your baby is at an increased risk of being born with spina bifida or another neural tube defect.  It is recommended that a pregnant woman get between 600 and 800 mcg of folic acid each day.

It is also important that a woman who is underweight gain enough weight during pregnancy.  If you do not gain a sufficient amount of weight, you run the risk of your baby being born prematurely.  Even if your baby is not born prematurely, you run the risk of your baby being born with a condition known as "small-for-gestational-age", which means that your baby was probably malnourished while he was developing in your womb.  This creates a risk of several other problems that can occur later on in life.

If you’re underweight at the start of your pregnancy, you should expect to gain between 30 and 40 pounds during your pregnancy. The average woman should expect to gain between 25 and 35 pounds.

If the reason you’re underweight is because of an eating disorder such as bulimia or anorexia, you’re creating a significant risk situation for your baby. Talk to your doctor about the problem right away, so that you can get the kind of treatment you need in order to make your pregnancy come out healthy and successfully.

Can Being Underweight Affect My Pregnancy?