A problem shared…GP and mother-of-four Clare Bailey gives her indispensable advice: Is my pregnant daughter gaining too much weight?
Q My daughter is seven months pregnant with my first grandchild. Call me old-fashioned, but I’m worried about her weight gain. I’ve read that putting on lots of weight during pregnancy can affect the baby. My daughter gets cross when I touch on the subject and assures me she’s healthy and following the NHS advice.
Recently, she was told her blood sugars are creeping up and need monitoring. I’m worried that all the pasta, bread and potatoes she has been advised to eat is only making things worse. What should she be eating?
A Talking to anyone about their weight, let alone a pregnant woman, can be a very sensitive matter.
So I think you would do better to focus on her health, particularly now that she is showing early signs of developing gestational diabetes; that is when a woman develops raised blood sugars during pregnancy. It affects about 5 per cent of women and is, to a great extent, connected to what she is eating.
We know that a nutritious and balanced diet is vital for the health of both mother and baby, even helping to reduce the risk of a premature delivery or having a baby which is small for its dates.
We also know that a poor diet leads to ‘early life programming’, affecting the child’s health.
Dr Clare Bailey, a GP and mother-of-four gives her indispensable advice in this week’s A problem shared, where she gives her take on a worried grandmother-to-be who is concerned for her daughter’s weight gain
So what should she be eating? What I find surprising is that the NHS still recommends pregnant women to follow a low-fat diet. This means basing their meals on the Eatwell Guide, including plenty of starchy carbohydrates that are broken down into sugar.
According to standard NHS advice: ‘Starchy foods should make up just over a third of the food you eat.’ The Guide recommends you ‘include bread, potatoes, breakfast cereals, rice, pasta, noodles, maize, millet, oats, yams and cornmeal. If you are having chips, go for oven chips lower in fat and salt’.
Yet numerous studies have shown that eating a Mediterranean diet in pregnancy can reduce the mother’s chance of putting on excess weight. This includes plenty of vegetables, fruit, fish, poultry, some meat, along with olive oil, dairy, nuts, seeds, beans, lentils and wholegrains such as brown rice.
There was, for example, the Esteem trial, where 1,252 women with obesity or diabetes were given either a Mediterranean diet or usual care. Those on the Med-style diet put on less weight (1.25 kg, or 2 lb 12 oz) and were 35 per cent less likely to develop gestational diabetes.
Dr Clare says that the NHS still recommends pregnant women to follow a low-fat diet. This means basing their meals on the Eatwell Guide, including plenty of starchy carbohydrates that are broken down into sugar
Given that the Mediterranean diet has the best evidence base in studies, why are we still recommending a low-fat diet at this crucial time in a mother and baby’s life? Sadly, many women don’t have access to the skills or foods to improve what they eat.
As for your daughter, she may decide that improving her diet is an important part of preparation for motherhood. The Mediterranean-style diet has the potential to improve both mum and baby’s future health.
Do you get the winter blues?
Is your body telling you to hide under the covers, conserve energy and hibernate till spring? One in 15 people suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder, known as SAD.
Daylight suppresses the production of the hormone melatonin (which helps you sleep) in order to keep you awake during the day.
But in winter for some people the light is not strong enough to suppress the urge to curl up in bed. It helps to get out into daylight.
A light box is also useful, delivering enough rays to help some people reprogramme their brain to remain cheerful and alert though the darker days.
Dr Clare Bailey says laughter is the best medicine, after a friend who retired from a stressful job found great joy in working part-time in a nursery, where she finds that she and the children laugh all the time (file photo)
Yes, laughter is the best medicine
A friend has retired from a stressful job and is now working part-time in a nursery where she finds that she and the children laugh all the time. Laughter is a great medicine.
To help people suffering from conditions such as depression, anxiety or grief, the NHS is trialling Comedy On Referral, a six-week writing and acting course to help people see the funny side of life. But most of us could do with a bit more laughter in the day.
You can write to Clare at firstname.lastname@example.org or Daily Mail, Northcliffe House, 2 Derry Street, London W8 5TT.