Forgot that old excuse about “eating for two”, ladies. New evidence and recently released Guidelines suggest that being overweight during pregnancy carries just as many, and maybe even more health risks, as being obese any other time in your life.
The information and new guidelines were put out by the United Kingdom’s National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE), and they echo the findings and guidelines released by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) a few years ago. The Guidelines are significant, because much like the rest of the population of both Great Britain and the US, the numbers of obese pregnant women are growing. According to the London newspaper the Daily Mail, “almost half of expectant mothers [in the UK] are overweight or obese”. The article reporting on the new NICE guidelines went on to list the dangers of being obese or overweight during pregnancy, which includes “fatal health conditions such as blood clots, pre-eclampsia, miscarriages and stillbirths.”
The NICE guidelines make the same recommendations about exercising during pregnancy as ACOG, barring any medical complications, expecting mothers should do, “at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise per day during pregnancy,” and that pregnant women “only need to have an extra 200 calories a day in the last three months of their pregnancy.” Recommended exercises include activities such as swimming or brisk walking. If women were not involved in a regular exercise routine prior to becoming pregnant, they should begin with no more than three 15-minute sessions a week, increasing gradually to 30-minutes per day.
Some of the other specific NICE recommendations include:
- Base your meals on starchy foods (such as potatoes, bread, rice and pasta), choose whole grains wherever possible.
- Eat foods rich in fiber.
- Eat at least five portions of fruit and vegetables per day in place of foods higher in fat or calories.
- Avoid fried foods, and drinks and snacks high in sugars and fats.
- Always eat breakfast.
- Watch portion size of meals and how often they are eaten.
What are the Risks?
Packing on significant extra pounds during pregnancy not only makes returning to pre-pregnancy weight that much harder for women, it can pose serious health risks to mom and baby. Women who are medically obese (a BMI of 30 or more) during pregnancy have an increased risk of diabetes, miscarriage, and blood clots. They also are more likely to need induced labor, and tend to have longer and more painful labors. Obese pregnant women also have more post-delivery bleeding and heal slower after delivery.