New studies are showing that over 30 percent of pregnant women don’t gain enough weight during their pregnancy. Specialists say that very little of this has to do with abnormal hormones and more to do with women with an extreme obsession with their weight during pregnancy.
Many women are so scared of gaining too much weight and not being able to lose it after giving birth that they partake in extreme dieting while pregnant. This extreme dieting can include intense and extended workouts multiple times a week, not eating enough for one person (let alone two), and withholding certain fatty nutrients that are necessary during a pregnancy.
Research shows that although these mothers are knowingly jeopardizing their health and the health of their baby, the celebrity media culture may play a role in the growing trend. “Between 2003 and 2005, the number of baby-related and baby weight-related covers on tabloids doubled – and since then, it’s almost become an expectation now that if a celebrity is pregnant there will be a mention of her body during pregnancy,” said Claire Mysko, co-author of the book Does This Pregnancy Make Me Look Fat? “Then there’s the countdown to how fast she’s going to get the weight off.”
Although there is no direct connection to anorexia while pregnant, this media obsession with celebrity pregnancy weight gain and weight loss may amplify an intense anxiety about weight gain that women already feel. Also, because there is no way to predict if a woman will experience pregorexia because many times out of shame they will be denial of it themselves, there are a few signs to look out for. Doctors say that women who have been anorexic in the past may be at a higher risk to experience it during pregnancy. Another sign is if a pregnant woman is consistently considerately underweight at monthly check-ins with no motivation to change diet or exercise regimen. (Medical experts say women should gain no less than 25 to 30 pounds during pregnancy.)
Overall experts warn pregorexia is a serious issue to remain vigilant and cautious about, and women should know that they are not alone and that they can be helped.
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Weight gain during pregnancy is essential for the healthy progression of your baby’s development. However, the common saying “eating for two” should not be taken literally or as an excuse to overeat.
Physician weight loss experts believe that due to the fact that every individual’s body works slightly differently it is important to find what diet and calorie intake works for you, especially during pregnancy. But in general you will only need to consume from 100 to 300 more calories per day while you are pregnant. That calorie intake is the equivalent of an extra light snack during the day.
Asking your health care provider how much weight you should gain will further help you understand what specific changes your body will go through. However, in general a woman will gain 25 to 35 pounds during pregnancy. Women that are underweight should gain between 28-40 pounds during pregnancy, while overweight women should only gain 15-25 pounds. During the first three months of pregnancy, it is common to gain about 2 to 4 pounds, and after that about 1 pound a week.
The most effective ways to maintain a healthy weight while pregnant is having a diet filled with vitamins and nutrients and performing regular moderate to light exercise, such as walking or yoga. Diet doctor nutritionists recommend incorporating fresh fruits and vegetables into your diet as much as possible.
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It’s important for pregnant women to look after their own health as well as the health of their unborn child, and many expecting mothers are at an increased risk of serious health conditions like diabetes and hypertension. Pregnancy-induced hypertension, or PIH, affects 5-7 percent of pregnant women and can cause considerable health complications if left untreated.
Blood pressure is a measurement of how much pressure the force of the blood pumped by the heart is exerting on the walls of the arteries. A high blood pressure reading means that the heart is working harder than it should, putting the patient at an increased risk of heart failure or a stroke. Common symptoms of pregnancy-induced hypertension include:
- Being over 20 weeks pregnant with a higher-than-normal blood pressure reading
- Being under age 20 or over age 35
- Being pregnant with multiple babies
- Feeling sluggish
- Breathing problems
- Pain above the stomach
- Swelling of the hands, face, ankles, or feet
- Vision disturbances
- Gaining 3-5 pounds within one week
Though PIH often disappears after the baby is born, it’s a serious concern during pregnancy because it is often an indicator that the mother is in the early stages of preeclampsia – a condition characterized by protein in the urine and fluid retention. This signals that the mother’s kidneys are not functioning properly. Preeclampsia can also cause low birth weight, premature birth and stillbirths, so women with these two conditions must be monitored closely.
Cardiovascular doctors Panama City FL define PIH as a blood pressure reading that’s A) higher than 140/90, or B) reads 30mg Hg systolic (the larger number) or 15 mg Hg diastolic higher (the smaller number) than the woman’s last blood pressure reading. Though it’s unknown what causes pregnancy-induced hypertension, research suggests that several factors could play a role:
- Family history – having a mother or a sister with PIH significantly increases a woman’s risk.
- Diet (insufficient calories, calcium, protein, or zinc).
- Problems with the placenta.
- Problems with the mother’s immune system.
Blood pressure cannot be controlled externally, but it’s important to monitor it constantly to avoid putting the unborn baby at risk. Your OB/GYN may recommend bed rest, constant checking of your weight and vital signs, increased testing for the baby, and medication.
For more information on high blood pressure and cardiovascular health, contact a cardiologist Panama City FL.
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