Weight management before and during pregnancy
The statistics are quite alarming - half of the UK population is now either overweight or obese. This has a huge impact on the health of the individuals involved, and on the NHS and UK economy. Women of childbearing age are very much at risk of the adverse effects of obesity. Excessive weight gain in pregnancy is associated with increased pregnancy complications (e.g. pre-eclampsia, diabetes, high blood pressure) and adverse outcomes for both mothers and babies, and is a major risk factor for childhood obesity.
In May 2012 the British Medical Journal* published an article by a team of medical researchers which challenges the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) guidelines from 2010 which state that dieting during pregnancy is not recommended and may harm the unborn child. These researchers undertook a review of 44 previous studies involving more than 7000 obese or overweight pregnant women to establish the effects of dietary and lifestyle interventions on pregnancy outcomes. They concluded from these studies that following a healthy diet and limiting calorie intake during pregnancy to manage excessive weight and pregnancy weight gain can significantly reduce the risk of complications for you and your baby and did not affect babies’ birth weights.
If you are overweight or obese and you are thinking of having a baby, it makes sense to try to lose some weight before you conceive. If you are already pregnant then you shouldn’t be aiming to lose weight during your pregnancy, but you should manage any weight gain carefully and not gain more than has been recommended to you by your doctor or midwife. You should be eating sensibly – have a look at our advice on a balanced pregnancy diet.
If you'd like to share your experiences with us we'd love to hear how you've got on; were you able to lose weight before you conceived or how much weight did you gain during your pregnancy?
Bye for now.
Setting a good example around foods
As parents we have many responsibilities. One that shouldn’t be underestimated in this day and age, in my opinion, is teaching our children about healthy food choices and sensible eating.
We must try to help our children feel good about their bodies and show them how to maintain a healthy body weight, whilst ensuring that the foods they choose provides all the nutrition they need for good health and well-being. Whilst you may feel you don’t have all the skills and nutritional knowledge to pass on to your children, there are various tools available to help you do this. Some links that you might find useful for yourself and any older children are given below:
NHS - Good food for home
NHS - Change 4 Life
Some simple things to remember include:
- Offer children a variety of nutritious foods at planned meal and snack times – and if possible eat with them and use it as an opportunity to talk about different foods and why they are good to include in the diet
- Plan meals and snacks at regular times - Having set meals and snack times can help children develop good eating patterns and teach them good food behaviors
- Don’t overfeed – try and pick up on their cues for when they are hungry or full. Babies and young children generally have ways of telling you when they are hungry and know when they’ve had enough to eat. Don’t force babies and young children to finish off all the food that you offer them if they don’t seem to want it.
- Try and be a positive role model for a healthy lifestyle - Children like to imitate adults, and will learn many of their attitudes about healthy (or unhealthy) eating and physical activity from you. Be enthusiastic about trying new foods yourself. Spend time playing actively with them and don’t just sit and watch. When children notice that you are trying new foods and playing actively, they are more likely to do the same.
For a handy guide on what makes up a good diet for a baby, why not have a look at our leaflet.
I hope you’ve found this interesting.