Forget eating for two: How more pregnant mothers than ever are being put on diets to stop them gaining too much weight
20:12 GMT, 26 June 2012
Women who think that pregnancy gives them license to eat whatever they want may have to close the snack cupboard.
Though for years, doctors have been promoting the 'eating for two' philosophy, in the case of obese expectant mothers especially, experts are now advocating for little to no weight gain.
And while healthy women are advised to gain between 25 and 35lbs, those who are overweight are now being offered nutritional coaching to only avoid putting on extra baby pounds, but to drop more postpartum.
Stop! Obese women are being given nutritional advice more and more in an effort to reduce complications during pregnancy due to weight gain
In America, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that one in five pregnant women are obese and according to federal statistics a third of females of a reproductive age are overweight.
Among minority groups, these figures are even higher, reports the Baltimore Sun.
Previously the prevailing attitude has been focussed towards treating obesity complications, which can include risk of miscarriage, high blood pressure, diabetes, pre-term delivery and stillbirth, as they happen.
But as Dr. Janice Henderson, an obstetrician for high-risk pregnancies at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center explained to the Baltimore paper, this method is being recognised as a 'missed opportunity' to educated women about nutrition and health.
'Over the course of a pregnancy they learn a lot that we hope will have a carry-over effect postpartum both for themselves, their child, and perhaps even spill over to other family members,' she said, adding that the alternative will only lead to drastic increases in obesity in the next generation.
At Mercy Medical Center's Center for Advanced Fetal Care, chair of obstetrics and gynecology, Dr. Robert Atlas, prefers not to refer to the new approach as 'dieting' rather than 'eating healthy'.
The challenge though he explained, is that many of his patients are from poor areas and don't have the means to buy or interest in cooking with fresh produce and whole grains.
The best he can hope for is to convince them not to drink sugary soda.
Dr. Yvonne S. Thornton, a professor of clinical obstetrics and gynecology at New York Medical College believes that because many doctors lack expertise in nutrition, advice is not properly imparted to pregnant patients.
After maintaining the same weight during her own pregnancy thanks to Weight Watchers, she wants the Institute of Medicine to review its recommendations on weight gain.
Though some say that until further research is available women should not be encouraged to diet or lose weight while pregnant, Dr Thornton argues that regardless of weight gain or not, a healthier diet is safer for both mother and child.
A recent study in Europe back up her argument when it found that pre-eclampsia, gestational diabetes and high blood pressure were all significantly reduced as obese mothers reduced their calorific intake.