Jessica Simpson has been getting a lot of press and TV time related to the amount of weight she gained during her recent pregnancy and the difficulty she is having “shedding” the pounds. I just thought I needed to “WEIGH IN” on this subject as I don’t think the real issue is being discussed.
As a pediatrician, I am not as concerned about when or how she loses the excessive weight that she packed on during her pregnancy. I am more worried about the message that she is sending to other pregnant women. Excessive weight gain during pregnancy may cause complications that could jeopardize an unborn baby’s health. It is not safe to gain all of that weight during a pregnancy.
Jessica Simpson is quoted saying that she is a “southern girl” and enjoys fried foods, macaroni and cheese and cream gravy. Most obstetricians recommend that a woman of average weight gain between 25-35 lbs during a pregnancy. If a woman is overweight prior to becoming pregnant she may only need to gain 15-20 lbs during the 9 months. Being pregnant does not mean that you can forget all about nutrition, eat excessively and gain 100 lbs. (educated guess on my part).
A woman who gains excessive weight during a pregnancy may have complications and is more likely to develop high blood pressure as well as gestational diabetes. Gestational diabetes is typically controlled with dietary changes alone, but in some cases a pregnant woman may even require insulin. Gestational diabetes puts the baby at risk for having blood sugar problems at birth. At the same time, blood pressure problems may be dangerous for the mother and put the baby at risk for premature birth and all of the problems that are related to prematurity.
At the same time, excessive weight gain during pregnancy typically causes the newborn to be what is termed, “large for gestational age”. These big babies are often delivered by C-section either electively or emergently and again there are more complications seen after a C-section than a vaginal delivery.
So.....I wish that the media would not put the focus on how Jessica Simpson is going to lose the weight or how much she is going to be paid to lose all of those pounds, but rather on the fact that she jeopardized the health of her newborn. She was fortunate that she had a beautiful and healthy newborn daughter.
We all have had cravings while pregnant, but healthy eating and regular exercise are still recommended to ensure the health of the unborn baby. Jessica Simpson’s weight gain and diet is not the role model we pediatricians want for pregnant moms to follow!