Guidelines For Obese Pregnant Women — Will It Make Any Difference?July 28, 2010 No Comments
The National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) has issued guidelines for pregnant women about exercise and diet before, during, and after pregnancy.
With all the conflicting advice women are given about childbearing I hope this provides some clarity, but I don’t expect much to change.
The guidelines state that women should not “eat for two” and explains how much exercise they should do. It also talks about how to lose weight after the pregnancy and advises losing weight before getting pregnant if they are currently overweight.
The reasons for these guidelines are that ”almost half of women of childbearing age are overweight or obese” and this can lead to health problems for the baby and mother. Things like pre-eclampsia, gestational diabetes, miscarriage and stillbirth are more common.
I understand that obese women would probably have a healthier pregnancy if they lost weight, but it’s not that simple.
Obese people know they are obese. And I’m willing to bet with the constant harassment of the media about how they are putting themselves at risk, how there is an obesity epidemic, and how only thinness is valued in our society, that most of them have tried to lose weight at some point in their lives but failed (or it just came back).
Losing weight is not an easy process, and, as much as they might want to lose weight, it’s probably a lot easier to get pregnant.
We can’t expect obese women to spontaneously lose weight simply because new health guidelines have been issued.
It’s good that there are now guidelines and some clarity, don’t get me wrong. And it’s good that women can see some scientifically backed evidence about how much to eat and exercise when they are pregnant. What doctors need to do is explain the problems that might arise, but then support their patients through their pregnancy and these problems, whatever their weight might be.
Obese women might have more problems with pregnancy, but they are not bad people because of their weight, they are just as good mothers, and have just as many rights to a family and good health care as any other woman.
As good as these guidelines might be, I don’t expect much to change.
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