Mothers who gain weight after a pregnancy, or those who are unable to lose the weight gained during pregnancy, are at greater risks for complications in subsequent pregnancies. Even in women who are not considered overweight, a few pounds can make all the difference in the world!
A Swedish study involving 150,000 women, recognized that a weight gain, no matter how modest, after giving birth to a first child increases the risks of hypertension, diabetes or still-borns in the next pregnancies. When considering the escalating rate of obesity, this observation is very worrisome. In 2004, over one in two women in Canada was considered overweight.
The BMI (body mass index) is often used as an indicator to determine if the weight of a person is acceptable. To calculate it, take your weight in kilograms and divide it by the square of your height in metres. An ideal BMI is located between 18.5 and 25. A woman weighing 60 kg (132.28 lbs) and measuring 1.65 m (5ft, 4 in) for example, has a BMI of 22. If she gains 5 kg (11.023 lbs), her BMI will be close to 24, which is still within the “norm”. Consequently, the Swedish study shows that a mother who gains one or two BMI units between the first and second pregnancy, increases by 20 to 40%, her risk of suffering from gestational diabetes (GDM) or hypertension. The greater the weight gain, the greater the risk for complications. A gain of at least three BMI units also increases the risk of foetal death by more than 60%.
This study also shows that even a slight weight loss can make a big difference, particularly in women who are overweight. How can a mother who is busy taking care of her newborn lose the weight? It is recommended she breastfeed her child. Breastfeeding not only induces weight loss in the mother, it also offers a wealth of benefits to the child. As you know, regular physical exercise is also a key element in weight loss. For example, walking with your baby everyday or even actively playing in the back yard with older children, are great ways to exercise. So Moms, stay active!