Call for clear guidance on healthy weight management in pregnancy
Surveys of 110 midwives and 740 women, led by both Slimming World and the Royal College of Midwives, have revealed that overweight expectant mothers are left feeling confused by the lack of clear information about weight management.
NHS data shows that one in five women (21%) start pregnancy with a BMI in the ‘obese’ range. Yet there are no national guidelines for women, midwives or health professionals on weight management during pregnancy. Excess weight in pregnancy is linked to increased risk of miscarriage, premature birth, gestational diabetes and stillbirth, among other serious health issues.
Carolyn Pallister, Slimming World public health manager and dietitian, says: ‘The women who participated in this survey told us that they were more open to talking about a healthy lifestyle when they were pregnant, so we need to make sure that midwives feel they have the right training and resources to support that. As it stands, this is a significant missed opportunity to share healthy lifestyle messages and guidance.
‘As part of our partnership with the Royal College of Midwives, Slimming World welcomes pregnant members; however our service is very different for those who are expecting. We do not suggest any significant weight change – gain or loss – during pregnancy. Instead, we support members to eat a healthy, balanced diet and remain physically active where appropriate. Our priority is a happy, healthy, mum-to-be!
‘Currently, though, in the UK, women aren’t routinely weighed while pregnant and, in fact, not all midwives even have access to weighing scales at their clinic sites. Midwives are further held back by the absence of guidelines on how much weight is safe to gain during pregnancy, and by the lack of training on how to raise the issue of weight with women.
‘The current situation is that women are left feeling confused and unsupported at this most important of times, and that needs to change.’
For more information, visit the RCM website, and if you’d like to find out more about managing your weight while pregnant, visit our Mums' site.
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