New guidelines for the care of pregnant women have a greater focus on weight as more and more expectant mothers in Australia are classed as overweight or obese during pregnancy.
The new guidelines–announced by federal Health Minister Greg Hunt yesterday–encourage conversations with expectant mums about healthy weight gain, diet, and exercise during pregnancy. They also propose that weight monitoring should become common practice during the duration of a pregnancy.
Australian Medical Association President Dr Michael Gannon is excited about the new guidelines noting that there is a “linear relationship” between worse outcomes for mother and baby and the expectant mother’s weight at conception and weight gain during the pregnancy.
Gannon spoke to reporters about the issue on ABC radio with expectant mother Melissa Street. On the program, Street revealed that the issue of her weight was only brought up by a midwife in her 17th week and by that time she had already gained more weight than was recommended in her first trimester.
Current guidelines use a woman’s Body Mass Index (BMI) to provide healthy weight markers for those expecting. A study in the Medical Journal of Australia, however, reveals that most women already fall outside their healthy weight range.
Terri-Lee Barrett, the president of the Australian College of Midwives told reporters on the radio program that mothers who overweight while pregnant can harm, not only themselves, but their baby too.
“There is an increased risk of diabetes and there is an increased risk of hypertension, and they obviously then have a flow-on effect to the outcomes in terms of the baby’s wellbeing. Should the mother develop complications during her pregnancy, they flow onto the baby.” she said.
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