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03rd Mar 2016

One In Five Pregnant Women ‘Obese at First Appointment’

Katie Mythen-Lynch

While pregnancy is without doubt a time to treat yourself and look after number one, we all know that the old ‘eating for two’ excuse is nothing more than a myth. 

Doctors recommend adding an extra 200 calories a day (of nutritious grains, fruit and veg – not biscuits) to your diet while you’re expecting and only in the third trimester, but it seems more women than ever are using pregnancy as an excuse to pile on the pounds.

The latest data, gleaned from the records of 33,950 women at the UK’s Health and Social Care Information Centre, shows that 19 per cent of women were already obese when they attended their first appointment with a midwife or GP. A further 26 per cent of women were overweight.

Excess weight has serious implications for a woman’s health during pregnancy and can increase the risk of miscarriage and stillbirth.

Studies show that obese expectant mothers have an induction rate of 42.1 per cent compared with 23.5 per cent. Hypertension rate rockets from nine per cent in the normal BMI group to 35.8 per cent and 20 per cent of morbidly obese mothers developing gestational diabetes.

The HSE advise that ideally, a pregnant woman should have minimum weight gain up to 20 weeks and an average weight gain of 1lb per week from 20 weeks to term. 30 minutes of moderate exercise per day is also recommended.

Interestingly, whether or not you were breastfed yourself might have a part to play: a 15-30 per cent reduction in adolescent and adult obesity rates has been found if any breastfeeding occurred in infancy compared with no breastfeeding. Children breastfed for three to six months have a 38 per cent less risk of obesity at age nine, while breastfeeding for more than six months leads to a 51 per cent reduction.

Did you gain more weight than recommended during your pregnancy? Join the conversation on Twitter @HerFamilydotie #babyweight.