Monday, October 6, 2008

Women Who Diet Before Pregnancy Gain More Weight During Pregnancy

Women who count calories, cut carbs, and measure fat grams before pregnancy are more likely to overeat during pregnancy. UNC researchers asked 1,223 women who had just become pregnant about their previous dietary habits. Regardless of how they did it, all normal-weight, overweight, or obese women who had tried to restrict their diets gained more weight during pregnancy than did women who did not diet before pregnancy.

This is one of those studies that confirms what we've heard from many of the women we're interviewing for our book--and it's common sense if you think about it. At every point in our lives, we're told to watch our weight. But during pregnancy, women are suddenly handed a free pass to "eat for two." Of course there are still plenty of celebrity magazines that bash stars who dare to show up in public with anything other than a cute little baby bump. But generally friends, family, and colleagues are more likely to encourage us to relax rigid eating habits for the sake of the baby. For women who have been restricting to the extent that they have little sense of their natural appetites, that permission to finally eat without guilt can be equivalent to opening the floodgates. In fact, another study shows that pregnancy can lead to binge eating disorder in some women who have never been binge eaters before.

Culturally sanctioned pregnancy feasting is time-limited, make no mistake. The pressure is on the minute after delivery. That's when the "indulge your cravings" allowances come to a screeching halt and the "get your pre-baby back" alarms are sounded. Ah, mixed messages.

Millions of women suffer from eating disorders, disordered eating, and poor body image before getting pregnant. Why would we expect that these issues would magically disappear during and post-pregnancy (two of the most stressful and body-transforming times of a woman's life)? Unfortunately, obstetricians are woefully untrained to deal with these issues.

"It would be important to have a nutritionist meet with these patients, because most obstetricians -- including me -- don't have the training to know what specifically to recommend," says obstetrician J. Christopher Glantz, MD, MPH, director of the perinatal outreach program at the University of Rochester Medical Center.

What are your experiences with these issues? We invite you to fill out one of our surveys.

1 comment:

Susanna said...

I was trying to lose weight before I got pregnant, but I haven't gained as much this pregnancy as I did the last one, when I wasn't dieting beforehand.

See, last time I did eat everything in site, including a lot of junk food. I got diagnosed with gestational diabetes in my 3rd trimester and had to have a very restrictive diet during the holidays, which sucked.

Hoping to avoid that this time, I tried to eat healthy from the beginning. Unfortunately, my blood sugar is high again and so I've been on this horribly restrictive diet since the end of my 2nd trimester. I'm at 28 weeks and I've barely gained 15 lbs.