Weight Associated Risks During Pregnancy
Being overweight or obese during pregnancy poses several health risks for both the mother and child.
Some of these risks include:
- Gestational diabetes in the mother
- High blood pressure in the mother
- Early delivery of the baby
- Needing a caesarean (C-section)
- Having more difficulty losing the weight after pregnancy
- Having a baby with a high birth weight
- The baby will have a higher risk of being overweight in childhood
Results of a recent study that looked at over 1.4 million children in Sweden indicate that being overweight or obese in early pregnancy may lead to a higher risk of having a child with cerebral palsy. This study was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association Neurology earlier this year.
The level of risk was linked to how obese the mother was early in her pregnancy – increasing grades of overweight and obesity were associated with increasing rates of cerebral palsy.
What can you do to help decrease the health risks for you and your baby, while giving your baby adequate nutrients to grow and develop?
Begin with these simple steps:
Eat three meals each day with healthy snacks in between.
Increase your intake of healthy foods such as fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lower fat milk, cheese and yogurt, lean meats and poultry, and legumes (beans, peas and lentils).
Limit your intake of foods that are high in fat, salt and/or sugar such as deep-fried foods, potato chips, salted pretzels, candy, chocolate bars, soft drinks and other sugary beverages, cakes, cookies, donuts and pastries.
Drink water regularly.
Be sure to include the following nutrients, which are of particular importance during pregnancy.
Folic acid. Folic acid helps lower the risk of neural tube defects. To meet folic acid needs, take a daily prenatal multivitamin, especially in the first trimester. Foods that are rich in folic acid include spinach, collards, mustard greens, broccoli, asparagus, Brussels sprouts, beans, lentils, sunflower seeds and peanuts.
Iron. Iron requirements increase during pregnancy. It helps your baby store iron for the first few months after birth. To meet your needs, take a daily prenatal multivitamin during pregnancy and include the following foods in your diet: lean meats, poultry and fish, beans, lentils, whole grains, green leafy vegetables, dried fruits, nuts, seeds, tofu and eggs. Consuming foods with Vitamin C will help your body absorb more iron, especially the iron found in plant-based foods.
Calcium. Calcium helps build and strengthen your baby’s bones and teeth, and it helps the heart, nerves and muscles grow. To ensure you’re getting enough calcium, have at least 2 Food Guide servings of Milk and Alternatives each day.
Omega-3 fats. Omega-3 fats help with your baby’s brain and eye development. Food sources of omega-3 fats include fish and seafood, nuts, seeds and soy. It is also added to some foods such as some milks, yogurts, margarines, eggs, soy beverages, breads and cereals.