Healthy BMI (Body Mass Index) for Pre-Pregnancy or Preconception Planning

What is a healthy BMI? More importantly, what is an ideal BMI for pre-pregnancy and preconception planning? BMI, or body mass index, refers to a heuristic proxy for human body fat based on an individual’s weight and height. BMI does not actually measure the percentage of body fat.

It is important to take note of your BMI, and I would argue, it is far more important than a simple number on the scale. Having a BMI that is higher than recommended can make it hard to conceive, but today I am going to address how being “underweight” or having a low BMI can cause anovulation and other conception issues.

What is a healthy BMI for Pre-Pregnancy or Preconception PlanningWhat is a healthy BMI (body mass index) for preconception purposes? This question was on my mind when my husband and I first began the preconception planning process. After doing quite a bit of research and speaking with my doctor, I found out that 18.5 or 19 percent was a healthy BMI while TTC. When I conceived Emma (which was a surprise since I was told it would be difficult or impossible to conceive because of my metabolic disorder), I was slightly underweight. As a result, I was intentional about eating more nutrient-dense foods in the first trimester to gain a couple extra pounds. Many women I train in the gym are very concerned about the number on the scale.

BMI is an indication of being underweight or overweight. However, that being said, if a woman is very athletic and has a lot of muscle weight, her BMI can appear in the overweight category (over 25) since muscle weighs more than fat. Use BMI as an indicator of your health, and consider visiting your doctor if you feel uncomfortable with a number in the underweight or overweight category, etc. Keep the numbers in perspective.

My husband and I do want to conceive again if possible, so I consider myself in preconception planning even now. I try to keep my BMI around 18 or 19% (which means I am a few pounds heavier than I was before I had Emma). Chances are, if you are eating nutrient dense foods and working out 5 times a week for 60 minutes at a time, your body will maintain a healthy BMI and set point. However, if you are currently in a training program (i.e. marathon training) or eating less calories and nutrients than your body needs, it is possible that you will be underweight. If you think you might be in this situation, ask your doctor or to do a health assessment for you.

I added a BMI chart for your reference. Remember, living a healthy lifestyle is the goal – not a certain number on the scale. Best wishes!

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8 thoughts on “Healthy BMI (Body Mass Index) for Pre-Pregnancy or Preconception Planning

  1. Rachel says:

    I’m a new reader and wanted to let you know that you are getting BMI and Body Fat Percentage confused. BMI is height to overall weight, and has nothing to do with body fat %. Many bodybuilders (I’ve done some amateur before) who have very low body fat percentage are actually high in BMI, due to muscle weight. Having a BMI below 18%, like the BMI chart you included, can be very hazardous to someone’s health. However, there are ranges of % that are considered acceptable for men and women in their body fat %, based on their goals.

    Here are a few resources to help you out:

    http://www.fitsugar.com/Measure-Up-BMI-vs-Body-Fat-Percentage-3644256

    http://caloriecount.about.com/difference-bmi-body-fat-percentage-q16564

  2. Amanda Tress says:

    Hi Rachel! Thanks so much for reading my blog! Yes, you are right — BMI and body fat percentage are different. And I did not do a good job explaining the difference in my post (but I was trying to refer to two separate issues). I guess that’s what I get for writing a post after a long day in Vegas 🙂 I appreciate the links! The most important thing that I am trying to accomplish with this post is to encourage women to maintain a healthy and fit lifestyle versus striving to be a size 0 🙂

  3. Rachel says:

    Hey- I appreciate your response, but I think its important to clear up the incorrect information on your post. You said that people should have a BMI of 15 or lower to have 6 pack abs (for my 5 foot 6 frame, that would be 93 lbs or lower!) and that you had a BMI of 12 (if you are 5’6 or taller, that’s 75 lbs). You also said you keep your BMI at 18 (heavier than your norm) which is in the underweight category for BMI, but wouldn’t necessarily be a big deal for body fat % since you are athletic. It doesn’t sound like you meant to post bad recommendations, but I still think its important to correct (instead of just explaining what you intended… )

    • Amanda Tress says:

      I am out of the office speaking at a web marketing conference until Wednesday, July 11. I will respond to your email as quickly as possible when I return.

      Regards, Amanda Tress

    • Amanda Tress says:

      Hey girl, you’re right. I tried to clear up some of the confusion on the post, so hopefully it makes more sense to the readers!! Let me know what you think, and thanks again for the comments!

  4. Rachel says:

    Hey Amanda, I know I’m a new reader (I’ve been trying to check out some fun blogs for (hopefully!) moms-to-be) so I appreciate your correction! I think the post sounds a lot clearer and you really get your point across!
    ~Rachel

    • Amanda Tress says:

      Thanks so much, Rachel! I truly appreciate your input and expertise! That is awesome that you have done some amateur body building as well. Let me know if there are any other topics that you are interested in reading about 🙂 Regards, Amanda.

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