Wednesday 20 November 2019

'Eating for two' myth risks harming mother and baby

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Stock picture

John von Radowitz

Pregnant women who believe in the "eating for two" myth risk harming themselves and their babies, experts have warned.

A survey suggests that more than two-thirds of mothers-to-be have no idea how many extra calories they need during pregnancy. More than 63pc of participants in a UK survey felt under pressure from others to eat larger meals than normal.

Alex Davis, from the British National Charity Partnership which commissioned the poll, said: "The 'eating for two' myth has been around for years, but it's very unhelpful.

"Eating healthily and consuming healthy portion sizes are important before, during and after pregnancy to increase the chances of conceiving naturally, reduce the risk of pregnancy and birth-related complications and stave off health problems like Type 2 diabetes and heart and circulatory disease in the long-term."


Guidelines from the UK's National Institute for Health and Care Excellence say women do not need any extra calories in the first six months of pregnancy. During the last three months they only require about 200 extra calories - the equivalent of two pieces of wholegrain toast with olive oil.

A total of 2,100 women from across the UK took part in the survey. More than four in five (85pc) said they did not know how many extra calories to consume during pregnancy.

Around a quarter of mothers-to-be admitted "eating for two" was an excuse for guzzling unhealthy snacks or meals.

Professor Janice Rymer, of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, said: "Eating too much during pregnancy and putting on too much weight can be detrimental to both mother and baby.

"Women who are overweight during pregnancy are at an increased risk of having a miscarriage and developing conditions such as gestational diabetes, high blood pressure and pre-eclampsia. They are also more likely to have a premature baby, require a Caesarean section, experience a haemorrhage after birth or develop a clot which can be life-threatening.

"In addition, overweight women have bigger babies who are themselves more likely to become obese and have significant health problems."

Irish Independent

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