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Important for women to be healthy weight before and during pregnancy says RCM on new research

14 June, 2017

Important for women to be healthy weight before and during pregnancy says RCM on new research

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Research published today in the BMJ says that ‘Women should be encouraged to obtain a normal body weight before conception’. It also suggests that risks of major birth defects during the first year of life progressively increase with a mother’s overweight and obesity severity.

Commenting on the research Jacque Gerrard, Director for England at the Royal College of Midwives, said: “This is a study which we welcome and builds on previous research about the impact of being overweight or obese on the developing baby.

“There are many reasons why it is important that women should have a healthy body weight before conception, and throughout the antenatal period. Adult and childhood obesity is a major problem in the UK which is known to increase the risk of developing other associated disease such as diabetes, hypertension and cardiovascular disease.

“This latest research published by the BMJ suggests that there is an increased risk of birth defects where women are overweight or severely obese, and healthcare professionals have a role in informing women and their families about the risks.

“In particular midwives are ideally placed to support and advise women about healthy eating and weight gain during pregnancy. We also know that this is best received where the midwife has already formed a positive relationship with the women in models of care such as continuity of carer where it is well evidenced that this improves health outcomes.

“Midwives aspire to support women in avoiding excessive weight gain during pregnancy as a part of health prevention and health promotion.  Between pregnancies, weight loss programmes combined with exercise have been shown to be helpful and midwives may signpost women to these.

“There is a need for greater priority to be placed on prevention interventions including giving women evidence based information, education and also 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-conceptual care. We need to see more effort and resources put into reducing obesity generally in the population, and in the services available to women who are planning a family or already pregnant”.

To contact the RCM Press Office call 020 7312 3456, or email pressofficer@rcm.org.uk.

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Notes to editors

The RCM is the only trade union and professional association dedicated to serving midwifery and the whole midwifery team. We provide workplace advice and support, professional and clinical guidance and information, and learning opportunities with our broad range of events, conferences and online resources. For more information visit the RCM website at https://www.rcm.org.uk/.

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