People often remark on how remarkably small I am for a woman who is almost 37 weeks pregnant. I don’t know what my girth measurement is, but I know I’ve gained about 17 pounds since I got pregnant. It’s not what it seems, folks. I’m not one of those vain women who diet and exercise during pregnancy just to quickly regain their figures afterward! I’m actually classified as ‘high risk’, because I have sickle cell disease. I have to guard against slipping and becoming anemic, then hurtling into a bout of horrific pain called a crisis. One patient in my doctor’s care had a crisis in her 26th week, went into pre-term labor and delivered a two-pound baby. The doctor told me this while lecturing me on choosing the right hematologist to supplement his advice during my pregnancy. (He wasn’t trying to bully or scare me. He just adamantly believes in doing things the best way.)
This pregnancy has really illustrated just how determined developing babies are to survive — they take whatever it is they need from their mothers, be it iron or calcium, leaving the mom to replenish those nutrients for herself. The reality is even more pronounced for me.
Well, during one of my sonograms at the doctor’s office, the technician mentioned how easy it was to get certain shots of the baby because I was, well, not overweight like a lot of the other patients cared for at that practice. She mentioned that when women are severely overweight or obese, not only does it make the sonograms more difficult to do, but the excess weight complicates the pregnancy.
I don’t want to harshly judge any woman who is overweight. That’s not the point of this post. But I couldn’t help notice how many of us were under the care of this high-risk doctor. Excess weight and obesity can lead to hypertension, diabetes and other chronic conditions that make pregnancy much more (and probably unnecessarily) difficult for women.
There is also the matter of delivery by C-sections. I wish I had saved an article that I read on this subject, but the number of C-sections in the U.S. has gone through the roof in the last 20 years or so. The implications are numerous, including the fact that a previous C-section increases complications of a regular delivery afterward. And what about this: if you have a lot of scar tissue from a previous C-section and cannot deliver the regular way, then don’t you eventually restrict the number of pregnancies that you should have, for fear of adding more scar tissue to your body?
My point is this: we all need to maintain a healthy weight, and for reasons that have nothing to do with vanity. You feel better, your risk of developing certain chronic or acute and catastrophic diseases is lessened, and if you’re a woman, your pregnancy goes a lot smoother.
So grab a copy of Heart & Soul magazine or something and put some of those health and fitness tips into action!
As for those women who diet and exercise during pregnancy — I don’t know what they are thinking! This is the time to indulge food cravings and get backrubs and whatnot.