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26th Jul 2017

Survey reveals mums-to-be still believe in ‘eating for two’

1 in 3 pregnant women believe they need to eat 300 extra calories per day.

Alison Bough

A new survey has revealed that many mums-to-be are still unsure about whether they should be ‘eating for two’ or not.

A survey jointly commissioned by Diabetes UK, the British Heart Foundation (BHF) and Tesco, has found that almost 70 percent of expectants mums are unsure of how many extra calories they should be consuming during pregnancy.

The charity partners are working with the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists to dispel the ‘eating for two’ pregnancy myth that puts the health of pregnant women and their babies at risk.

The survey reveals that 63 percent of pregnant respondents feel ‘under pressure’ from others to eat more than usual, with 14 percent of mums-to-be saying this pressure is constant.

Professor Janice Rymer of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, says that unhealthy weight gain during pregnancy can be life-threatening:

“Eating too much during pregnancy and putting on too much weight can be detrimental to both mother and baby. Women who are overweight during pregnancy are at an increased risk of having a miscarriage and developing conditions such as gestational diabetes, high blood pressure and pre-eclampsia.

They are also more likely to have a premature baby, require a Caesarean section, experience a haemorrhage after birth or develop a clot which can be life-threatening. In addition, overweight women have bigger babies who are themselves more likely to become obese and have significant health problems as a result.”

According to the survey, more than one in three pregnant women believe they need to eat 300 or more extra calories each day and 61 percent think they need to start consuming these extra calories in the first or second trimester.

Nearly half (44%) of respondents said their biggest fear about pregnancy weight gain was having to lose it afterwards. One in ten feared developing gestational diabetes and 11 percent worried about high blood pressure.

One in four pregnant women admit to using the ‘eating for two’ excuse all the time to eat unhealthy snacks or meals. However, Alex Davis, head of prevention for the National Charity Partnership, says the myth is very unhelpful:

“The ‘eating for two’ myth has been around for years, but it’s very unhelpful. Eating healthily and consuming healthy portion sizes are important before, during and after pregnancy to increase the chances of conceiving naturally, reduce the risk of pregnancy and birth-related complications and stave off health problems like Type 2 diabetes and heart and circulatory disease in the long-term.”

Current guidelines advise pregnant women that “energy needs do not change in the first six months of pregnancy” and recommend that mums-to-be only need about 200 extra calories per day during the last trimester of pregnancy.