Thursday, July 12, 2007

At risk for what?

This just in: Experts are now urging women to watch their weight before pregnancy and get back to their pre-pregnancy weight quickly after giving birth. Their new recommendations include:

* Body mass index should be measured as part of vital signs at routine annual check-ups and all women of child bearing age should be counseled to achieve and maintain optimal BMI.
* Preconception counseling programs should include education regarding the poor maternal and perinatal outcomes among the obese and overweight.
* Women with high BMI planning a pregnancy should be counseled to participate in intensive nutrition programs aimed to achieve optimum BMI prior to conception.
* Encouraging breastfeeding can partially help to decrease childhood obesity and also help mother to return quickly to pre-pregnancy weight.

Why the panic? Because, say these researchers, "maternal obesity" leads to all kinds of terrible things for babies, including higher C-section rates, "less chance" of being breastfed, obesity later in life, and--I kid you not--"high birth weight."

And here I thought low birth weight was the big risk when it comes to babies and weight. After all, low birth weight can contribute to respiratory problems, cardiovascular problems, infections, neurological problems, SIDS, cerebral palsy, and other medical issues.

But never mind all that. As we should all know by now, it's much worse to be fat than any of those.

I guess they never heard of genetics, and have never read the dismal statistics on weight loss, or followed the studies that show that losing weight if you're fat actually increases your health risks on many levels.

As Sandy Szwarc pointed out in a recent post, there are people who think you can be too fat to love a child. I guess you can be too fat to have a child too.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

All I want to say is "Grr." My daughter said the other day that she was "fat" when she was born because she weighed 8 lbs. 5 oz. at birth. I told her that unless the baby is too big to come out, I think it's much more dangerous for a newborn to be under the average weight than over the average weight. Almost every baby loses weight after being born, particularly if the mother breastfeeds (which, I must say, I highly endorse as a feeding method because it's cheaper and because it's great to bond with baby that way), and so any extra "perfect" nutrition through the womb is good for baby and mom.

mary said...

Again, this bothers me on so many levels. When I think back to the comments to me by an Obn, at a time I was actually at a very good weight during my pregnancy...it confirms my gut feelings that much of this nonsense is about controlling. There is no worse feeling than being a guinea pig to some mass hysteria!
I do wonder what they are trying to hide. What's the truth behind all this? I know my kids pediatrician gave me some hints along the way.
I agree that there is much risk in losing weight. Ketosis is a very real risk and with it comes cancer risks. How dare they push us over that cliff!
I am the poster child for fat babies! I was also quite happy till they they took away the fat from the milk. My protest won me back what I needed. Perhaps these experts pushing diets need to experience a taste of an angry hungry protest! he he I'll bite!

Vanessa said...

WOW! This is unbelievable. Of course it is worse for a baby to have low birth weight. I don't know any risks associated with high birth weight, except for increased chance of c-section. Anyway, genetics have a lot to do with baby weight. Here's my story: I'm a thin person. When I was pregnant at 19, I worked at Mickey D's and ate fast food three times a day. (I was working a lot of overtime.) Horrible, I know. I ate whatever I wanted, whenever. I gained only 20 lbs, and yet I had a 9lb 6oz, 21 inch baby boy. A big baby, just like every other woman in my family. I don't think the mother's weight or pregnancy weight gained has that much to do with the baby's weight. I was an 8 pounder, and now I'm 5'3 and 120lbs!!! I can't believe the discrimination that fat people have to face. It is amazing, really. Believe me, there are thin people that care about this too. (Especially considering much of my very beloved family is fat.)

carrie said...

I read an article not all that long ago that said women who lost weight before their pregnancy didn't have thinner babies than those who didn't lose weight.

Could it be that weight is-- get this --controlled by your genes?

My brother weighed more at birth than me, yet I'm smaller than him overall (yes, he's about 5 inches taller, but you get the idea).

Researchers also said that women can lose weight safely while pregnant. Um, you're growing a child. You're supposed to gain weight. Women have been giving birth for years without measurements of BMI before, during, or after pregnancy. The human race is still here and healthier than ever.

All I can do is shake my head.

Harriet Brown said...

I read that too, Carrie. Genetics, anyone? That article actually had a hilarious followup about how babies supposedly are born with a taste for whatever foods their mothers ate during pregnancy. So if you eat junk food while pregnant your baby will have a predilection for junk food. WTF??!! If that's not magical thinking I don't know what is.

Vanessa, thank you for your comment. A (thin) friend of mine recently said to me that she'd never yet met a fat activist who wasn't fat. It's good to be reminded that you don't have to be fat/black/poor/whatever to object to prejudice and discrimination. Well, I knew that already. :-)

Interesting story, Mary. Babies know what they need much better than parents do most of the time!

anonymous, that's the kind of talk that pervades our culture right now, making "fat" the bugaboo for everything. We have a long way to go.

angi said...

You have no idea how this blog entry saved my sanity! I am eight months pregnant and am measuring small and have actually lost nearly five lbs. in the past two weeks--they didn't seem too concerned. My father told me "good job" in response to my weight loss. I'm wearing medium non-maternity pajama pants...i thought i'd recovered from anorexia. and i feel horrible about my slip here--but it's hard to get help when people congratulate you for causing your unborn serious problems because you're obsessed about your own weight!

Harriet Brown said...

angi,

oh boy, your story makes me mad! it's so typical of our fat-phobic culture to equate thin with good even at the risk of an unborn child. good for you for catching on. i hope you'll go have an ice cream sundae in honor of your baby!