A new study has found that young, low-income women tend to put on and keep on more weight than necessary during and after pregnancy. This weight gain could add unwanted health risks to mother and baby and to subsequent pregnancies.
Out of 400+ low-income, young women, two thirds put on excessive weight during pregnancy and about half retained at least ten pregnancy pounds one year later. Over half of the women who were overweight before pregnancy were technically obese one year later. The study also found that Hispanic women tended to be more successful than either black or white women at losing weight postpartum.
The young women who breastfed lost about 1.5 pounds more *per week* than those who bottle-fed. The authors of the study, which was published in the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology, wonder whether it might be worth promoting breastfeeding among young, low-income mothers.
Michelle Obama has been leaning in this direction, too. She has included breastfeeding on her list of things we can do to reduce obesity. Breastfeeding can prevent obesity in children, but it might also help mom lose pregnancy weight. Not all women drop pounds from nursing, but some lose weight quite fast.
What may be most important about this study is more evidence that many, many women in this country do not have access to the education, support and the affordable, nutritious foods they not only deserve but very much need in order to stay healthy themselves and produce children who will have a better chance of staying healthy as they grow up. Excessive weight gain in pregnancy has been connected to obesity and obesity-related diseases in offspring. If we want to help usher in a new generation of healthy kids, we may want to look to our poorest neighborhoods and see how we can’t help expecting mothers avoid trans fats, empty calories and eat a more balanced diet.
photo: permanently scatterbrained/flickr