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.
Eating in the first few weeks after your baby is born
There are so many new things to think about when you've just had your baby that what to eat might not come high up on your list of priorities. But it is vitally important that you eat regular, nutritionally well-balanced meals to ensure you stay healthy and that you've got all the nutrients needed for successful breastfeeding.
There are no hard and fast rules on when and what you should eat in these early days. There are some 'old wives tales' recommending foods that should or shouldn’t be eaten, but there is little scientific support for most of these. I've heard it said that 'you need to drink milk in order to make milk' which might have been the case when foods were in short supply, but these days with a varied supply of foods available to most of us the energy, protein and calcium needed can come from other dietary sources. Similarly, although Italian mums might be told to avoid garlic, cauliflower, lentils and red peppers whilst breastfeeding, mothers and babies in India are perfectly happy whilst on a diet containing all these foods.
My best advice would be to eat and drink when you feel you need to; if you are breastfeeding, you may well find you're hungrier and thirstier than normal. Making milk 24/7 is extremely demanding and an inadequate diet could easily affect your health.
The following links on our website give you some other useful information on the foods you should include in your diet whilst breastfeeding, and foods to avoid. Perhaps you'd like to try some of our recipes too, or better still, get someone else to prepare them for you!
Until next time....
Tags: babies, bottle feeding, breast feeding, carbohydrates, dairy, dehydration, drinks, eating, foods, foods to avoid, healthy
Christmas time and pregnancy
Being careful about what you eat and drink is all part of being pregnant, but with so many tempting foods and drinks on offer what should you particularly look out for to ensure you, and your bump, remain safe?
Cold meats and fish – Parma ham and salami, although cured, are not cooked and may cause toxoplasmosis (an infection usually harmless to adults but can cause serious problems for an unborn baby) so say ‘no’ to these. Smoked salmon and sushi are fine (provided frozen fish has been used to make the sushi), but avoid shellfish (unless cooked till piping hot).
Cheeses – have a look at our website and handy guide for advice on what cheeses you can eat and those to avoid on the cheese board.
Salads – steer clear of any salads made with homemade mayonnaise but shop bought mayonnaise from a jar is fine. Make sure salad leaves are always thoroughly washed first.
Turkey – this is perfectly safe, provided you make sure it is cooked thoroughly. Take extra care when handling the raw turkey, washing all surfaces and your hands afterwards. Follow all cooking instructions carefully (length of time you need to cook the bird and oven temperature to use). Of course, if your turkey is frozen make sure it is completely defrosted before roasting.
Desserts – always check whether any raw or partly cooked eggs have been used in recipes. For this reason, avoid homemade meringues and chocolate mousses for example as they can contain salmonella.
Most other foods are completely safe, but if in doubt ask and keep our handy ‘foods to avoid’ card with you to check.
Of course Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without a special drink. Of course you should avoid alcohol, but this doesn’t mean you can’t have a special festive drink. Why not try our delicious 'mock-tails'?
Have a good one!