Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Fat Women LESS Likely to Have Premature Babies?

A study discussed by Sandy Szwarc at Junk Food Science totally blew my mind. For years, I have been fraught with fears of getting pregnant while still in the obese category. I thought, if only I could lose some weight before having children, everything would be better – I’d be healthier, my baby would be healthier. I also thought about how I could eat in healthy way so that I wouldn’t gain too much weight while pregnant. And it goes without saying that I’d do my best to shed those excess pounds after delivery. I just couldn’t fathom getting bigger than I am already.

First goal: lose weight before getting pregnant.

Second goal: don’t gain too much weight when I do.

Third goal: work to lose pregnancy weight after birth.

I am literally in tears thinking about how much time I wasted trying to lose weight for this reason only to learn (from the study discussed in the link above):

The CDC researchers also found that fat women with BMIs in the ‘obese’ category and high weight gain (>1.5 pounds/week) were associated with the lowest risks for preterm deliveries of all (2.4%): less than half the risks seen among those of average weights and weight gain. While some believe fat women should gain less weight during pregnancy, they found that low pregnancy weight gain for obese women raised their risks for preterm deliveries to 9.3%.

And of COURSE I’d want to lose weight after having my first child, right? More from the article linked above:

Another point noted in this new study that may have come as a revelation was that researchers had previously shown that weight loss after a pregnancy can increase a woman’s risk of having a preterm delivery with her next pregnancy.

This one article alone has challenged me to question all that I thought I knew about weight and pregnancy. I can’t say that I’ve completely let go of my fears of weight GAIN. It’s scary to think that it is not only inevitable but actually preferable that I would indeed gain weight when carrying my first child. Sitting here at my highest weight (I’ve reached it before but never exceeded it, that I know of), I can’t imagine it.

While following a path of intuitive eating, I recognize that I may release some weight as my body normalizes and lets go of any excess that is not needed. I know that paradoxically, if I focus on that as a goal, I’m least likely to see that happen. But I still hope… I genuinely still believe that it would be healthier for me to start having children at a lower weight. Whether this is true or not, I cannot say.

The important thing for me to take from this is that no matter what, I am following the path I need to take. If it leads to me to getting smaller in the long run, if that’s where my body will be healthiest, great. If not, this is encouraging news that I may not be putting myself and my future child in harm’s way.

I was comforted to be reminded:

For most of human history, fat has been life-sustaining and a sign of a woman’s ability to bear and nurture children. Obesity continues to be shown to have a protective relationship for carrying a baby to term in the soundest studies, as these researchers confirmed...

the welfare of all babies and improving their chances for healthy futures should be the primary concern, not whether their mums are fat. All babies deserve a healthy start and all mothers-to-be deserve good prenatal care… and the very best information.

It is true that the Cute Man and I have delayed having children for many reasons (getting our finances together was a biggy), but I must admit that this is the one that really stopped me in my tracks. With so much information out there, it is indeed hard to know what to believe. However, the studies discussed in this article have really spurred a lot of thought. I am interested in any other perspectives you may want to share!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Good Informative Post! Most things to help with weight loss after pregnancy are not available to the common people who will have to face the challenge generally on their own. A new mother will be thinking about her baby and her focus should be eating healthily to regain strength and recover from the birth.

If the diet is set for 2,000 calories that should be sufficient but it should always contain a tiny amount of fiber; the food she eats should consist of: Half as carbohydrates, 30 percent proteins, 10 percent fats.

How To Lose Weight After Pregnancy