Friday 23 September 2011

Managing Your Weight in Pregnancy

I cannot emphasise this enough, if you are obese/overweight and considering pregnancy or are already pregnant, please ask your midwife, GP or consultant for specific advice. Tommy's in conjunction with Bounty, have some fantastic information and I would urge you to use this in conjunction with advice from your own health professionals.

Tommy's 5 point pregnancy plan.  

I'm really passionate about this topic, and I really wanted to do a blog post to try and highlight why its important to eat healthily but not diet. I didn't know where to start, until I picked up today's Metro and saw this story. This mum was around the same weight as me and underwent gastric bypass surgery in order to lose weight. I'd love to blog about this at some point, but not today. Anyway, as it transpires, she was already pregnant, but did not know it. We know that obesity can affect the way contraception works. No one thought to advise this woman to do a pregnancy test before undergoing surgery.

My heart absolutely goes out to this lady. As a result of the surgery, her baby was starved of essential nutrients and died. She was born two weeks earlier in gestation than Joseph, at 25 weeks, but weighed slightly more.

And this illustrates the point I was making in my media interviews this week. Yes, obesity is bad, but eating healthily in pregnancy is so important and make a powerful difference to your baby's health.

We talked a lot about the "eating for two" myth this week. And whilst quantity wise this is true, we only need to eat for ourselves only 200 additional calories are required, and that is only in the last 3 months of pregnancy. Quality wise we are eating for two, and its important, when making food decisions, that we consider that what we're eating, our baby is consuming too. I found it much easier to eat well and exercise when pregnant. I will do a post about my own battle with my weight in a day or two.

Micronutrients are vital, and it is thought that this baby died due to a lack of them. Micronutrients are the vitamins and minerals that we can take in a pill and/or through our diet. Gastric bypass surgery, unfortunately, affects the way the body absorbs micronutrients, and people who have this surgery need to take vitamin tablets for the rest of their life. In pregnancy we are urged to take a multivitamin including vitamin D and folic acid to help our baby's development, but its important to do this through diet as well. Whatever is not required, in vitamin and mineral terms, passes through the system.

When pregnant, protein is essential too. There is some research that indicates a diet rich in protein may help with preventing pre eclampsia, but its not yet proven. But it can't hurt. And  the baby needs protein in order to grow.

When Joseph was born, several of his doctors took me aside to find out about what I ate in pregnancy. They felt he was very strong, and active and felt my diet had something to do with it, so this is what I did.

* I ate 7-9 different fruits and vegetables a day. This is in line with the Australian advice, which is 5 vegetables and 2 fruits. In Greece their "5 a day campaign" is actually 9. I personally felt it was important to eat these throughout the day so I'd have tomato or avocado on toast, then lunch might be salmon and salad, and then a lighter dinner. I'd snack on fruit or nuts (no history of nut allergy in our families).

* I increased my portions of protein. I tried to have protein at every meal, which wasn't always easy, as my body no longer liked eggs. I still tried to eat them however!

* I cut right down on sugar. Joseph would not allow me to touch chocolate anyway, so that was helpful.

* I watched my carbohydrate intake. Good carbs, such as pasta, wholewheat bread, brown rice etc were fine, but I cut out pastries, stodgy breads etc.

* I limited my caffeine intake to one cup of coffee a day during the week and none at weekends.

I didn't gain any weight in pregnancy. I was planning to increase my calories by a further 200 for the last trimester, however did not need to do this as I missed that bit.

In pregnancy, we are, in fact, eating for two, in the sense that our baby needs us to eat healthily in order to grow. We do need to consider the needs of our baby as well as ourselves.  I hope, over the coming days and weeks to do some more posts about the 5 point pregnancy plan, as there are some really powerful messages for women who are pregnant, and find themselves obese or overweight.


  1. I hadn't seen that story. My heart bleeds for her.
    This is a great post and really highlights how important it is to eat healthily rather than diet at every stage in your life. It's a very difficult balance to maintain and one I have struggled with despite never having actually been overweight.
    Luckily I was at a good point in my life when I fell pregnant. I had a difficult pregnancy and I'm not sure I would have been so lucky if I hadn't been eating well.

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