Contrary To Popular Belief, Women Do Not Use Pregnancy As A Time To ‘Let Themselves Go’
Pregnant women endure a lot of stress and worry trying to ensure they’re making the right choices for their babies, and this morning’s news gives them yet another thing to feel guilty about. According to U.S. News & World Report, a recent study found that 47% of women gain too much weight during pregnancy.
The study, which will appear in the April issue of the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology, analyzed data for 44,000 women from 28 different states who gave birth to a full-term baby in either 2010 or 2011 and found that a significant number of them struggled to stay within recommended weight guidelines.
One in five gained too little weight during their pregnancy, and just 32 percent gained an amount that fell within the recommendations of the Institute of Medicine. Slightly more than 47 percent of the women gained excessive weight, according to the study authors.
The study also found that women who were overweight or obese prior to pregnancy were three times more likely to gain too much weight, while women who were ‘extremely obese’ were twice as likely to gain too little weight. Current recommendations suggest a woman who is average weight should gain about 25-35 pounds during pregnancy, an overweight woman should gain 15-25 pounds, and an obese woman should gain 11-20.
The researchers stress that gaining too much weight during pregnancy can have negative effects on both the mom and the baby, but when asked why women are gaining too much weight, the researchers didn’t have any concrete answers. US News & World Report spoke with several other experts hoping to shed some light on the problem, including Dr. Karen Cooper, an OB/GYN and director of the Cleveland Clinic’s Be Well Moms program, who said:
“Most women feel that pregnancy is the time when weight does not matter and it is an opportunity to eat as much as desired.”
I am neither a doctor nor a scientist, but I take issue with the idea that ‘most women’ think pregnancy is a great time to stop caring and let themselves go. I’d like to see some hard numbers on that, as most pregnant women I’ve met in my life are actually the opposite, spending their days worrying about nutrients and exercise, and panicking if they have severe morning sickness or some other condition that prevents them from eating well.
Pregnant women should strive to stay healthy, but the numbers in this study are fairly limited and incapable of telling us much about the actual health of the participants. They accounted for preexisting conditions, such as diabetes and high blood pressure, but did not have data on actual habits, like diet and exercise. BMI and weight gain alone don’t say much about a person’s lifestyle and overall health. I hope this research leads to further studies that will analyze actual diet and exercise habits and their effects on pregnancy health, rather than just classifying all excess weight as a negative.