Pregnancy brings joy and happiness for the expectant mother and her family. During this time managing her weight is also equally important. We tell you why…
You are pregnant! This news filled the room with joy and happiness. Friends and relatives express their happiness in the form of cooking delicacies for the to-be mother as they believe that the woman must eat for two when she is pregnant. This is a popular belief especially in India. But while eating a wholesome diet is important, it is equally important that one must be careful to manage their weight as both being overweight and underweight can affect the expectant mother and her unborn child.
Nutritionists and dieticians have stressed on how obesity is a cause of many health problems. Even during pregnancy, being overweight is considered to be harmful for the baby and the expectant mother. Dr Anuradha Panda, consultant gynaecologist, Apollo Health City, says, “Being overweight during pregnancy can cause various problems such as gestational diabetes, high blood pressure, premature labour, blood clotting and many a times the woman will have to opt for a caesarean delivery.” It is said that when it comes to women before they get pregnant, obesity may result in infertility. On the other hand it may also affect the baby in terms of cases of still births, newborn deaths, large babies, birth defects, childhood obesity and various other ailments in the future. A recent study conducted by researchers from the University of Iowa and the University of Minnesota came to the conclusion that children of obese mothers showed various development delays in terms of weight and height.
While being overweight is an issue, being underweight can also cause various problems. According to Dr Anuradha, “Being underweight is not as much a problem as being overweight. The problem arises only when the woman does not put on enough weight during the pregnancy. It is said that during the first two months the woman need not put on weight but after the third month the woman should gain around two kilos per month. During pregnancy the normal weight gain should be around 10-12 kgs. In certain cases when the woman does not gain enough weight it may result in smaller babies and the child may suffer from mental retardation.”
Children born to underweight mothers are said to be at risk of suffering from problems such as hypothermia, low blood-sugar, feeding difficulties and viral infections in the future. Anaemia is also seen as a common problem. Dr Anuradha adds that women who are underweight during pregnancy are advised a diet according to their requirements.
Weight gain before
Having a normal weight before pregnancy (neither underweight nor overweight) is advised. Dr Anuradha says that it is advised that before planning a pregnancy women should gain weight if they are underweight or lose weight if they are overweight. The ideal weight is calculated according to the woman’s height and age in terms of BMI. By gaining weight, Dr Anuradha mentions that women should understand that eating food with calories and junk food does not help. It in turn causes more damage. It is advised that women should have a good and balanced diet.
Essential food advised during pregnancy
- Starchy food : Starchy foods are an important source of vitamins and fibre. They include bread, potatoes. It is advised that women should eat multi-grain varieties of the bread and other foods containing starch.
- Poultry: Poultry products such as chicken, eggs, fish should be eaten.
- Fruits and vegetables: Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables help provide the expectant mothers with vitamins and minerals.
- Dairy: One should include dairy products such as milk and yogurt into their diet. On the other hand, pregnant women should avoid food with excess sugar and processed food.