Jessica Simpson recently told Hello! magazine that she has gained 40 pounds throughout the course of her pregnancy – prompting an outpour of negative criticism about the star being “too pregnant.”

While every woman is expected to gain weight during pregnancy, the question still remains: How much is too much?

Dr. Manny Alvarez, senior managing editor for Fox News Health, said that the amount of weight a pregnant woman should gain needs to be specific to each woman.

“The most important thing is to know the starting weight of an individual before pregnancy,” Alvarez said.  “If you have an ideal BMI, 20 to 25 pounds is adequate.  But if your BMI is already excessive, then there’s really no need to put on excess weight.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), obesity during pregnancy is becoming a much more common condition – affecting nearly 1 in every 5 pregnant women.  While Simpson does not necessarily fit into that category, Alvarez said her highly publicized weight gain highlights the need for pregnant women to be very aware of their weight fluctuations.

More On This...

“It’s important to have a really balanced diet that will meet your daily caloric demands,” Alvarez said.  “The essence of nutrition in pregnancy is to provide your body with the calories that are necessary to maintain good physiologic function and provide the baby with the protein and minerals it requires.”

Not only does managing your weight gain help to ensure a healthy pregnancy, but gaining too much pregnancy weight can increase your risk for many adverse complications.

“When you have excessive amount of weight gain during pregnancy, it puts you at tremendous risk for gestational diabetes, which can have a lot of complications for not only the mom but also the newborn.  Excessive weight gain puts a lot of extra pressure on your kidneys and your heart, which puts you at risk for developing pre-eclampsia – in which have high blood pressure, protein in your urine, and edema.”

Gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) affects 2 to 10 percent of pregnancies in the U.S., the CDC website states.  While the condition usually goes away after birth, up to 50 percent of women who had GDM during pregnancy will develop diabetes in the years after their pregnancy – making weight gain during pregnancy a long term concern.

Simpson told Hello! that she’s had a great time taking a break from her diet and exercise during her pregnancy, but she’s ready to be done and get her body back.  Alvarez agreed that Simpson needs to get back on track becaused the pop/reality star may have overdone it.

“I think [her weight gain] is a little excessive, because she’s not that tall,” Alvarez said.  “She has reached the upper limits for what is acceptable for her frame.”