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‘Eating for two during pregnancy is a myth’

The 'eating for two' habit adopted by most mothers-to-be is nothing but a myth,claims a new British health guideline.

Written by Agencies | London | Published: February 19, 2010 3:21 pm

The ‘eating for two’ habit adopted by most mothers-to-be is nothing but a myth,claims a new British health guideline,advising doctors to warn pregnant women that such excess eating may put their baby at risk.

According to the new guidelines,during the first six months of the pregnancy,women don’t need to drink full-fat milk or change their diet at all.

Even in the last three months they need just 200 extra calories a day — the equivalent of a small sandwich,it said.

The weight management during pregnancy guidance from the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE),which is now out for consultation,comes as the number of obese mothers rising,with almost one in four women being obese and a further third overweight in the country.

The guidance,which says women should be advised that being fat puts their baby at risk,however stresses that they should not be told to lose weight during pregnancy.

Instead they should be helped to shed excess pounds before getting pregnant and after they have given birth,the Daily Mail reported.

Prof Mike Kelly of NICE said: “Women are bombarded by often conflicting advice on what constitutes a healthy diet and how much physical activity they should do during pregnancy and after birth.

“The aim of developing this new guidance is to provide health professionals with clear recommendations to help them support women prior to and during their pregnancy as well as after they have given birth.”

“Many overweight women have healthy babies,but the evidence suggests that there are more risks associated with pregnancies in women who have a BMI of over 30,” added Prof Kelly.

He said the advice takes into account the demands of looking after a small baby and how tired mothers are.

“But it also aims to dispel any myths about what and how much to eat during pregnancy — there is no need to ‘eat for two’ or to drink full-fat milk,” he said.

“It’s important for women to understand that weight loss after birth takes time and that physical activity and gradual weight loss will not affect a woman’s ability to breastfeed.”

The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists says the recommended maximum limit for pregnancy weight gain is 10-12 kg,around one and three quarter stones.

Rosie Dodds of the National Childbirth Trust said: “Women are more likely to make changes to their diet when they are pregnant and this opportunity can improve the family eating pattern for the future.

“NCT welcomes this draft guidance which should ensure better consistency of support from health professionals and tailoring of the services offered to the needs of women.

“In some areas,women on low incomes need improved access to affordable nourishing foods,especially fresh fruit and vegetables.”

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