HomeHealth‘Pregnant women who eat too much risk gestational diabetes’

‘Pregnant women who eat too much risk gestational diabetes’

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Lara Adejoro

Medical experts have dispelled the myth that a woman needs to eat for two when she is pregnant.

According to them, while the baby’s nutrition depends on the mother’s diet, this doesn’t mean the mother needs to eat double the quantity during pregnancy.

They say that eating too much during pregnancy has negative consequences and can put women at higher risk of developing gestational diabetes.

Speaking with PUNCH HealthWise, a Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist, Dr. Joseph Akinde, said though the baby will take whatever is needed from the mother, a pregnant woman does not need to eat extra food.

“Just eat your normal diet; you don’t need to eat extra when you are pregnant, Dr. Akinde said.

Continuing, he said, “Pregnancy comes with all forms of symptoms — some women have cravings for a particular type of food, so it’s different strokes for different folks and the same situation does not apply to everybody in all situations.

“You may have one woman who is unduly hungry and eat voraciously and, on the other hand, you have those who don’t eat so much food.”

Akinde noted that too much weight gain can mean problems for the pregnant mother as well as the baby, and such people are more likely to have a cesarean section at delivery.

“If she overeats, the baby will come out too big, she may get too big and the baby may be too big and she might have some difficulty pushing out the baby,” Akinde added.

Also, a Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist, Dr. Gregory Ohihoin, said the general statement that pregnancy means eating for two, though superfluous and sweeping, is, however, worth paying attention to.

“For some women, they go to the extreme of eating for two and maybe for four and consume all sorts of things, with a keen sense of unbridled appetite, eating without control. The result is that they become overweight, probably obese and their babies become too big.

“This group of women is at higher risk of developing gestational diabetes mellitus and they are at higher risk of having difficult labour,” Ohihoin said.

He also said that women who exhibit very poor appetite while pregnant are at risk of having poor weight gain and extremely small babies, with a higher risk of complications.

In an article posted on Pregnancy Nigeria, the gynaecologist noted that pregnant women should measure out portions to attain moderation.

“Quantity-wise, you will require extra calories of about 250 a day. The quality of what you eat is more important than the quantity.

“Spread your meals over the day instead of eating heavy, infrequent meals. It is better to eat light, frequent meals. This will help with excessive nausea and vomiting experienced in the first trimester.

“In terms of quality, note that junk foods such as fries, hamburgers and chocolate bars don’t benefit the baby much and your body eventually converts them to fat; so, don’t binge on them,” Ohihoin counselled.

He advocated the consumption of a balanced diet with carbohydrates, protein, vitamins, and minerals.

“Protein is the most relevant for your baby as it contains amino acids which are the building blocks of the body. Your body requires 20 different types of amino acids. 12 of them are produced by the body (non-essential amino acids). The other eight must be provided by the food you eat. First-class protein found in animal and animal products is a rich source of essential amino acids,” Ohihoin added.

Meanwhile, another Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecology at the Nnamdi Azikwe Teaching Hospital, Akwa, Anambra State, Dr. Stanley Egbogu, said a pregnant woman may eat a bit more than normal during pregnancy because her body is using energy and nutrients from the food.

Egbogu, however, added that there is a need to eat healthy while pregnant.

“The truth is that during pregnancy, most women require a high amount of food, and the amount of food she will eat will increase, compared to what she was eating before.

“When she eats, it goes to the baby through the placenta, the baby absorbs it and she starts to feel hungry again; so, she needs to eat well.”

The gynaecologist said pregnancy is a great time to focus on developing healthy eating habits and it is important to eat healthily before you start trying to become pregnant.

“The mother needs a wide array of nutrients and the quality of foods she puts in her body will affect both her and the baby,” he said.

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