What’s the world coming to?
A woman gives birth to a 17 pound and one ounce baby….
Women contemplate artificial insemination….like Carolyn on the HBO hit Tell Me You Love Me…
The phrase “eating for two” seems ingrained in the minds of pregnant women around the world….
And doctors struggle to find the optimal amount of weight gain during pregnancy that will promote health for the baby and a successful and complication-free pregnancy for mom.
Almost two decades ago, the Institute of Medicine, a major medical authority in the US, developed guidelines concerning the recommended amount of weight women of varying body types should gain during pregnancy. These guidelines seemed simple enough and have been used for years to guide expectant mothers and their doctors. Even during my pregnancy, I found myself pouring over all the information I could about healthy eating, exercising during pregnancy and nutrition.
I had what seemed like thousands of questions about my pregnancy. What types of food should I avoid during pregnancy? How much exercise is recommended during each trimester of pregnancy? Can I still exercise during my third trimester of pregnancy? How much weight should I gain each trimester? How can I prevent from getting those all-too-common stretch marks on my ever-expanding belly?
And to go along with those thousands of questions, came even more words of advice, recommendations and suggestions from family, friends, colleagues and let’s not forget the random strangers who thought nothing about coming up to me, extending their hand and commence talking to me like we’ve known each other for years as they rubbed or patted my belly. How many times have you heard or even advised someone else that “they’re eating for two now”….that “they can now eat anything they want”….that “you have free reign when it comes to eating”?
Don’t be embarrassed…we’ve all done it before. But it’s NOT the truth. Expectant mothers are NOT eating for two. And if you or someone you know believes that they are eating for two…the only “two” you’ll see is the “two of you” years later after you’re still struggling to lose that “baby weight”.
The news article about the Siberian woman who recently gave birth to a 17 pound and one ounce girl failed to mention the weight of the mother, who at the age of 43 had given birth to 11 other children…all born in excess of 11 pounds! How much total weight did she actually gain during her pregnancy to have given birth to a 17 pound baby!
I can only surmise that her eating habits…which consisted largely of carbohydrates…was more out of a sense of survival and not gluttony but she did report that she “ate everything.” Everything in the Western world would consist of all the McDonald’s, pizza, ice cream and bon-bons that you can find or that you can get someone to run out in the middle of the night to buy.
The Institute of Medicine’s recommendation that underweight women gain 28 to 40 pounds during pregnancy, normal weight women aim for 25 to 35 pounds and overweight women try to keep their weight gain between 15 and 25 pounds while obese women aim at gaining no more than 15 pounds has been the measuring rod for almost 30 years. The Institute’s main goal for initiating these guidelines was to lower the risk of women having low birth weight babies. And they’ve succeeded….or so why think?
Instead of reporting the world’s smallest baby….we’re hearing about the world’s largest baby. Many women are now exceeding these recommended weight guidelines and are gaining substantially more weight during their pregnancy, resulting in poorer health outcomes for both the baby and mother. Overweight babies are at risk for birthing complications such as shoulder dislocation or deformities during attempted vaginal delivery and mothers of overweight babies are at risk for developing gestational diabetes and high blood pressure.
Doctors, women’s magazines, medical journals and even the internet are taking a stand to get the message out to women that “eating everything” and “eating for two” can be costly to their overall health and the health of their unborn child. The Institute of Medicine is even contemplating revising their pregnancy weight gain recommendations in response to this growing obesity trend.
But until then, we have the current pregnancy weight guidelines and hope that the next news bulletin won’t report that the Guinness World Record for the largest baby at 22 pounds and 4 ounces has been broken.
To your (and your baby’s) wellness,
Dr. Traci Ferguson, The Health and Wellness Queen
P.S. If you want to stay healthy before, during and after pregnancy, check out The Backyard Workout Manual that you can do in the comfort of your home or backyard.