“Oh sure, I’ll have another donut. I am ‘eating for two,’ after all!”
It’s a response familiar to many a pregnant woman — because while you can’t drink, slurp caffeine, or gobble soft cheese, at least you can eat as much as you want.
Or can you?
Experts now warn that moms-to-be who believe in the whole “one for me, one for the baby” thing could risk harming their health and the health of their babies.
New research from the National Charity Partnership in the U.K. has revealed that more than two-thirds of pregnant women have no idea how much they should be eating every day.
While more than one in three pregnant women believe they needed to consume 300 extra calories or more daily, according to the health watchdog, NICE, women don’t actually need any extra calories at all for the first six months. And in the final three months of pregnancy, women only require an extra 200 calories a day — basically the equivalent of two pieces of whole-grain toast with olive oil spread.
More than a quarter of the 2,100 mothers questioned by the NCP admitted that they used “eating for two” as an excuse to consume unhealthy food all the time; more than 63 percent of participants, meanwhile, said they felt pressure from others to eat larger meals than normal.
“The ‘eating for two’ myth has been around for years, but it’s very unhelpful,” said Alex Davis from the NCP. “Eating healthily and consuming healthy portion sizes is 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.”
The NCP is working with the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (RCOG) to debunk the myth of “eating for two” and make dietary requirements for pregnant women easier to understand.
Professor Janice Rymer, vice president of education at the RCOG, 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 preeclampsia.”
She added, “They are also more likely to have a premature baby, require a Caesarean section, experience a hemorrhage 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 as a result.”
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