by Maria Giovanna Faiella
How to calculate – and how many are – the “right” kilos to take based on the body mass index. What to eat (without too many deprivations) to protect the health of mother and child. Expert advice
During pregnancy it is normal to gain weight but the extra kilos must be “just right”. In fact, being overweight, and even more so obesity, can have consequences on the health of mother and child. And, to avoid it, the intervention of experts may be necessary; moreover, no false myths: “eating for two” during pregnancy is just a popular legend that has no scientific confirmation. These are the conclusions of a study published in the scientific journal JAMA Network Openwhich examined about a hundred research published in recent years involving almost 35,000 pregnant women.
According to the meta-analysis, interventions by health professionals, such as nutritionists and dietitians, are the most helpful in controlling weight gain during pregnancy. In particular, according to the team of researchers, interventions involving between 6 and 20 sessions on an individual basis were more effective.
“Weight gain during pregnancy is a normal process, but the old adage that expectant mothers ‘eat for two’ and that they don’t have to worry about weight gain can lead to health consequences for both mother and baby,” said co-author Shakila Thangaratinam, a maternal health expert at the University of Birmingham in the UK. We know that excessive gestational weight gain does, in fact, increase the risk of diabetes and other complications.”
The expert’s comment
Professor Anna Maria Marconi, director of the complex operating unit of gynecology and obstetrics at the San Paolo hospital of the ASST Santi Paolo e Carlo of Milan and full professor of gynecology and obstetrics at the University of Milan comments: «The meta-analysis mainly concerns American women, with a proportion of obese pregnant women – included in the study – exceeding 50 percent. In Italy, overweight and obese pregnant women are increasing, but it also happens that women of normal weight are put on a stick, even forbidding them to eat a dessert – continues Marconi -. Furthermore, from the study – even if the same authors admit that not all the research examined is well done in terms of quality – it would seem that the only valid intervention to reduce weight is food, with the help of nutritionists and dieticians: the diet certainly serves as a therapeutic tool when the pregnant woman is diabetic or obese, not if she is of normal weight. Instead, all pregnant women should be encouraged to exercise because it is a false belief that rest is good for you, among other things it can increase the risk of thrombosis. Rest is indicated when you have a risky pregnancy, for example, with exaggerated contractions or other problems, but the gynecologist will tell you that».
Body mass index
But how many kilos can you gain when you are expecting a baby? “Gynecologists must comply with international recommendations on weight gain during pregnancy, which are based on scientific studies – explains Dr. Marconi -. To calculate the optimal weight gain, you must first know what your body mass index (BMI, acronym for Body Mass Index, ed) is, which is calculated by dividing the weight, expressed in kilograms, by the square of the height expressed in metres. Today there are apps, downloadable on your smartphone, which automatically calculate the BMI: you just need to enter your height, weight, gender».
Based on the body mass index, the pregnant woman (and, in general, every person) is:
– underweight if you have a body mass index of less than 18.5;
– normal weight if the value is between 18.5 and 24.9;
– overweight if the BMI is between 25 and 29.9;
– obese if the value is equal to or greater than 30.
Weight gain during pregnancy
What is the optimal weight gain? Professor Marconi says: «Already during the first gynecological visit, pregnant women should be advised – but unfortunately this is often not done – to gain weight based on the body mass index, i.e.:
– if the woman is underweight she must gain 12.5 to 18 kilos;
– if of normal weight, from 11.5 to 16 kilos;
– if overweight, from 7 to 11.5 kilos;
– se obesa, tra i 3 ei 9 chili».
Risks for mother and child
Excess weight can pose risks for mother and child. In particular, the gynecologist recalls: «An obese woman has more difficulty getting pregnant, is more likely to have a complicated pregnancy, has a greater risk of developing cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and some cancers, gives birth to “big” children who, in turn, have a greater risk of becoming obese and diabetic ».
Is it true that carbohydrates are bad for pregnancy? What to eat? «It is not true that carbohydrates (which nourish the fetus) must be limited during pregnancy, which must represent about 50 percent of the calories consumed – specifies the expert -. Just follow the Mediterranean diet, eating the “right” carbohydrates (pasta, bread, cereals, preferably wholemeal, ed); foods with a low glycemic index; avoid sugars, that is, don’t overeat sweets every day, but occasionally you can also eat a slice of cake or whatever you like» concludes Professor Marconi.
July 20, 2023 (change July 20, 2023 | 12:43 am)
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