The expression ‘eating for two’ may be decidedly appealing for many pregnant women, but is it actually healthy for mother- and baby-to-be?

Gaining an excessive amount of weight during pregnancy increases the risk of gestational diabetes, high blood pressure, delivery by caesarean and large babies which can develop into childhood obesity. Maintaining a healthy weight during pregnancy is therefore vital for the health and wellbeing of expectant mothers and their babies.

A recent review reveals that women can improve their health and reduce the risk of complications during childbirth by retaining a healthy weight through diet and exercise. The review found that following a low sugar diet combined with regular exercise led to a significant reduction in excessive weight gain during pregnancy. Furthermore, women who maintain a healthy diet and exercise regime are less likely to have high blood pressure and less susceptible to caesarean delivery.

Tess Lawrie, co-author of the review, explained that the purpose of the review was to encourage women to adopt a healthy eating and exercise routine during pregnancy; it is hoped that the knowledge that their efforts will be rewarded with lower pregnancy weight gain and better health outcomes for themselves and their baby will be ample motivation. Lawrie also noted that ‘pregnancy is a time when women have a lot of contact with healthcare providers; therefore there is no better time to engage and support women to make healthy lifestyle choices.’

According to Benja Muktabhant, an associate professor in the Department of Nutrition at Khon Kaen University in Thailand and lead author of the review, ‘the findings are important for informing antenatal guidelines.’ The researchers advise women to consult their midwife or doctor before embarking on a new exercise program.


Source: The Cochrane Library