How a healthy pregnancy reduces childhood obesity risks

During your pregnancy, it may be tempting to give in to your cravings and eat all of the delicious, indulgent, junk food you usually try to avoid. You are eating for two, after all. While it’s OK to derail your normal diet and splurge every so often, your eating habits often play a major role in your unborn child’s health. For instance, eating plenty of fruits and vegetables provides your unborn baby with proper nourishment, and lowers the risk for birth defects and other health problems. A healthy pregnancy also helps lower your child’s risk for childhood obesity.

At Women’s Care Florida, we have plenty of resources to help our patients create a healthy eating plan. Our obstetricians also provide their patients with guidance around nutrition and other healthy pregnancy habits. We’re sharing a few of their tips on how pregnant women can reduce the risk for childhood obesity in their children.

Eating a healthy, balanced diet

Your diet should include foods rich in vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients that lend to good health for you and your baby. If you’re unable to get all the nutrients you need from food, talk to your OB-GYN about nutritional supplements that can help. In many cases, taking supplements such as folic acid can help lower the risk for birth defects.

Your pregnancy diet should include the following:

  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Whole grains
  • Lean proteins
  • Low-fat dairy
  • Healthy fats (omega-3s, polyunsaturated / monounsaturated fats)

Consult with your OB-GYN about other foods that are safe and healthy for you to eat throughout pregnancy. A pregnancy diet high in fat and sugar increases your risk for gestational diabetes, and can lead to high baby birth weight. Studies have shown that babies whose mothers had gestational diabetes are at a higher risk for childhood obesity.

Avoiding excess weight gain
Many people think being pregnant requires eating for two. As a result, some women literally double up on portions to support the growth of their babies. However, eating for two can lead to extra weight gain during pregnancy, and increases the risk for gestational diabetes.

Most OB-GYNs say that you’ll only need to consume an extra 200 to 500 calories per day throughout pregnancy, depending on your physical activity level. For example, an athletic woman or someone who exercises regularly may need 500 extra calories per day throughout her pregnancy. Ask your OB-GYN about the recommended amount of extra calories you should be consuming, and try to avoid excess weight gain.

Choosing to breastfeed
Studies have shown that children who are breastfed are generally in better health than formula-fed children, and at a lower risk for childhood obesity. Additionally, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends breastfeeding your child for the first six months to provide optimal nutrition and health protection.

Breastfeeding also helps reduce your child’s risk for the following:

  • Respiratory illnesses
  • Ear infections
  • Gastrointestinal infections
  • Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)

During any appointment with your OB-GYN throughout pregnancy, don’t hesitate to ask about weight gain, nutrition, and the benefits of breastfeeding. Staying on top of your health during pregnancy is more important than ever, and improves your baby’s outcome for good health in years to come.

If you want to learn more about pregnancy nutrition, schedule an appointment with an OB at Women’s Care Florida today.