Have you ever heard a pregnant woman say “I’m eating for two” when her food intake is in question? Chances are you have and you did not think anything wrong with it because it is a very common misconception repeated across generations. Although it literally makes sense, studies have shown that a pregnant woman does not need to double her daily food intake to provide adequate nutrition for her baby. Contrary to popular belief, an increase in daily calories consumed is actually not recommend up until the second or third trimester! Most especially now, a time where you can have any and every craving delivered to your doorstep with a few clicks of your finger, it is important to address this pregnancy fallacy once and for all. To keep you informed and promote healthier choices, we discuss six of the common health concerns, as verified by medical professionals, caused by overeating during pregnancy.
What a woman eats when she’s pregnant is shared with the baby she’s carrying, which is why an increase in Mommy’s sugar levels will directly impact the baby’s insulin and sugar levels as well. The surplus is stored as fat and puts the baby at higher risk for obesity and diabetes. Obesity can lead to a number of health problems, such as a heart condition, while gestational disabilities leads to bigger babies, which can cause complications to be discussed later on.
Pre-eclampsia is a pregnancy complication that causes high-blood pressure and may aggravate into impaired function of other organs. Those at risk include, but are not limited to, women diagnosed with chronic hypertension or obesity and women with family history of pre-eclampsia. Many symptoms of pre-eclampsia, such as nausea and weight gain, are similar to the symptoms of a normal, healthy pregnancy, so it is best to leave the diagnosis to a medical professional.
Heavier babies are more likely to be delivered early via Caesarean delivery (C-section). While some may opt for C-section and schedule it well in advance, others who still prefer vaginal delivery are left with no choice but to undergo a emergency C-section due to unforeseen circumstances. Like with most operations, the risks to the mother include infection, haemorrhage, and other injuries, while the risks to the baby include pre-mature birth and respiratory issues.
While doctors will do their best to assess the safest approach for delivery depending on factors unique to each case, there is still a chance for complications and injuries. A larger baby may experience difficulty or get stuck when passing through the mother’s birth canal. Doctors may have to use medical instruments to facilitate the delivery, which may cause injuries to the baby’s head or shoulders. For the mother, there is risk of injury to her uterus and pelvic area.
Once the baby is out but the maternity weight stays in, it is common to panic and start planning how to lose the excess pounds. However, it’s a little more difficult with a newborn baby since there will be many adjustments made to Mommy’s schedule and lifestyle. It may take time before she can squeeze in light workouts and prepare healthy home-cooked meals that is needed to shed off the weight. Not to mention if it was a Caesarean delivery, the recovery period is much longer before she can starting easing in work outs and get back to an active lifestyle.
Like most bad habits, it’s often much harder to break the habit than it is to start it. The temptation to binge-eat might even grow stronger post-pregnancy because of the stresses that come with a newborn. What would be a more alarming concern is if the habit of overeating is passed on the baby or worse, the rest of the family. This can open a Pandora’s box of more health problems that will develop in the future, which could have been prevented by a healthier diet.
- Tian C., Harmful Effects of Overeating During Pregnancy, September 2020
- Donna Murray, Macrosomia: Being Pregnant With a Large Baby, June 2019
- Nadia Micali, Haya Al Essimii, Alison E Field, Janet Treasure, Pregnancy Loss of Control Over Eating: A Longitudinal Study of Maternal and Child Outcomes, July 2018
- Bazian, Overeating During Pregnancy Linked to Maternal Weight Gain and Child Obesity, June 2018
- Johannes Stubert, Frank Reister, Steffi Hartmann, Wolfgang Janni, The Risks Associated with Obesity in Pregnancy, April 2018
- Lupe Cruz, Eating for Two: Nutrition Blunders for Newly Pregnant Women, April 2017