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Weight gain guidelines 'vital' to avoid adverse affects for expecting mothers

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There is currently no guideline in the UK There is currently no guideline for optimum weight gain during pregnancy in the UK

A recommended level of weight gain during pregnancy should be established in the UK to keep expecting mothers’ health, according to the Royal College of Midwives (RCM).

US healthcare staff work with established parameters of recommended weight gain during pregnancy. In a study from the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), it was revealed that weight gain above or below this recommended level can raise the risk of ‘adverse outcomes for mothers and infants’.

NICE guidance in the UK is currently to weigh women at the start of pregnancy and only do so again if there are concerns. The RCM described this as ‘not helpful’ in providing continuity of care for mothers.

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They recommended weight loss programmes and exercise be incorporated with pre- and post-natal care to make sure mothers were at a healthy weight before and during pregnancy, and make sure they returned to a good weight afterwards in case of any further pregnancies.

RCM director of midwifery Louise Silverton called for the NHS to establish recommended levels of weight gain similar to the US model as part of a recommended move to improve weight control during pregnancy.

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She said: ‘Midwives need time with women during postnatal care to provide these messages on weight control. We know that they are best received where the midwife has already formed a relationship with the women and that continuity of care – the woman seeing the same midwife or group of midwives – improves outcomes.

‘There is a need for a greater priority to be placed on health promotion including better information, education and support for women and their families, about the benefits of healthy eating before and during pregnancy, and taking appropriate exercise. More emphasis also needs to be placed on pre-conception care.

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‘We cannot talk about this issue outside of the context of poverty and inequality. This is also about reaching out to those groups in society who need the greatest help and support to not only eat healthily, but also have a generally healthier lifestyle.’

Ms Silverton also called for the introduction of accurate weight scales in all antenatal care settings, including those especially for women who are severely obese.

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