Monday, November 16, 2015

Empowering Expectant Women vs Social Media Shaming of Weight Gain

A study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, released Nov 5, 2015 says that nearly half of mothers in the United State gain too much weight during pregnancy.  The study involved over 3 million US women who were pregnant during 2012-2013.  Only 46 states (including the District of Columbia) of the 50 states were included in the study. 
It is logical to see that increased gestational weight gain contributes to larger babies as well as prolonged loss of pregnancy weight during the postpartum period.  Some studies go farther to implicate obesity as a complication of pregnancy, carrying with it the increased need for interventions.

Is this empowering women to eat a healthy diet or using social media to shame American
women for their food choices?  If the latter is true, how are American women expected to know nutritional parameters for pregnancy?  This type of information is not typically included in a prenatal office visit.  If childbirth education classes are encouraged or suggested, few classes include such information.

As with many news features that indicate a crisis in American prenatal health care, it seems that many of these media perceived crises could be solved to a large extent with comprehensive, evidence-based childbirth education.  Ideally, childbirth education classes should include not only the typical anatomy and physiology of pregnancy, labor and birth but also basic nutrition, fluid intake and exercise tips.  In today’s “drive through and eat” mentality, it might well be advisable for educators to once again include nutrition and exercise within their curriculum.

An unofficial poll of childbirth educators showed that while 100% felt that including nutrition and exercise was extremely important in the education curriculum, one deterrent was shorter class length mostly due to classes being in the hospital setting. A second is that few if any prenatal care providers review nutritional and exercise suggestions with expectant parents.
So herein lies the conundrum: the medical community minimizes the exposure to expectant parents the information about optimal nutritional and exercise information and suggestions yet chastises the expectant parent for weight gain.  Not that every expectant parent who receives nutritional and exercise information will abide by it, but it will certainly increase the likelihood of compliance if they know the information in advance.  Follow-up with care providers with this type of information would only benefit the expectant parent and perhaps lower the perceived obesity in this demographic.

To read the entire study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, click here:

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