Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Another Politically Incorrect Post: Obesity Affects Pregnancy and Childbirth

I know that I once had happened across a blog whose author staunchly opposes linking childbirth complications to obesity. Unfortunately, I don't recall the name of the blog. Certainly that blogger would take issue with this post of mine. But I feel that I must share my belief on the subject.

In 2007 a study found that in the UK maternal deaths were at a two-decade high. The report stated that:

of the almost 300 women who died during childbirth between 2003 and 2005 from pregnancy-related conditions, more than half were obese.

I have never dealt with weight issues in my life, in part because of diet and exercise, but I am also sure this is due to my metabolism. Although I have not had to deal with weight issues, I have other issues in my life with which I have struggled, like my temper, so I can empathize with those who struggle with predispositions. But just because I have a temper, this does not mean that I can deny that anger is bad for you and has consequences.

I say this to soften the blow of my following statements.

I am concerned for the younger generation of mothers. I see so many teens who are dealing with obesity. I see young girls as overweight as their own mothers, even though they have not yet had any children themselves! What will happen when they begin to have children? How will this affect their pregnancies and births?

As a teen I was involved in sports like track, basketball, powder-puff-football and softball. I was very athletic and fit. I also worked out with weights into my early twenties. My husband, who is a bodybuilder and boxer was attracted to me because of my love for exercise and sports. So I went into motherhood fit and trim. Though I have not worked out regularly in the years since, I have always been active in walking, riding bikes, playing football and other sports with my husband and children, coaching their teams and practicing with them.

Athletes believe in the term "muscle memory." From the website comes the following explanation of this term:

Muscle memory refers to the accelerated muscle retraining phenomenon when a muscle has been trained, detrained and then retrained again.

How does this apply to you? If you take a long break from working out you will be able to get your muscle back much quicker thank someone who has never worked out before.

I believe that muscle memory has helped me stay fit through the pregnancies and births of my seven children. Exercising as a youth is an important part of women being prepared for their future as mothers and I believe that there is opposition in this world trying to prevent women from having good births. What better way than to have teen girls be inactive, over weight, and even beginning to sow the seeds of illness.

By the time they reach high school, 64% of children are no longer physically active. Why?

Becoming a healthy adult starts with being a healthy child. Many chronic diseases of adulthood have their beginnings in childhood. For example, it is important for kids to build strong bones, so that by the time they’re in their 20s, their peak bone density will be higher and their risk of osteoporosis will be decreased. from: Kids In Motion

Because my husband has lifted weights and been active since he was 12 years old, he and I have always involved our children in sports and exercise. Since we home school we are their coaches and we believe that by encouraging, even forcing them to exercise (when they are being lazy,) we are preparing them for the work they have ahead of them as adults. The boys will need to be fit so that they can work hard to provide for their families and also to be able to run and play with them, too. The girls will have to be prepared to be mothers, to carry and birth their babies as well as tend to their families and also play with them.

The odds of an adult being physically active during free time are greatly increased if they took part in organized sports as a child, according to newly published survey results appearing in the December issue of Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise®, the official scientific journal of the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM). The results indicate that encouraging participation in youth sports could result in improved health outcomes for the general population. From

As parents we must encourage our children to be fit. I have found that my children take the most interest in activities that my husband and I participate in with them. I encourage you to exercise not only for your own health, but also for the health of your children and grandchildren.

Have you ever thought that you'd do anything to save your child from harm? Making yourself eat right and exercise is the best thing that any parent can do.


Anonymous said...

The one caveat I would say is that there is way too much focus on obesity-- and not nearly enough on health. I have seen several young women told they would have to have a c/s just because they were overweight and their OB had no idea how to discuss nutrition with them. Just gloom and doom.

As most studies suggest, there is a MAJOR difference between being fit and being of an acceptable weight. There are many weights at which a woman can be quite fit, their physical fitness determines far more regarding their birth process and outcome than simply a number on a scale. Most of the local midwives have been keeping a tally for an eventual study and have determined that level of fitness and current activity level are better determinants -- across weight categories -- than the weight itself.

This really makes sense. And we all need to get off the band wagon that makes the overweight person somehow deviant, and instead deal with the real issue. Just as in other things we all need to find the cause and not just treat the symptom. As you note this is difficult to talk about because we have become afraid to have the full convo's. But important ones rarely come easy.

As American's, we are out of the habit of being active. I didn't say exercising, because thats not really it. We need to stop looking for the closet parking spot, using the car to drive to the corner and the like. When pregnant, we need to think about that doubly hard. For myself, I constantly say my hip hurt and I am tired. Is the walking going to change that? If I am still going to have hip soreness, and be tired, I might as well walk, since its unlikely to make it worse. =)

Anyways, sorry for the ramble. As a former athlete this is near and dear to my heart, and I spend a great deal of time talking to other women about this sort of thing. I wish the research had tabulated better data -- i.e. there is compelling numbers that show that larger women are not given nearly as good prenatal care, (scary!) and that perhaps education could help out with the stats. I also have to wonder if drs don't make too many assumptions...

Cheers, for the posts.

Rebecca said...

Prepping for my second UC I decided to (hopefully) get some encouragment from my birth links. Obviously yours was one of them. I must say though I am feeling pretty lousy right now after reading your two posts about obesity. Let me just say, it is so easy to point the finger at others when you do not have the same "problem". Obesity is so much more for many than diet and exercise. There is a lot of ignorance in general concerning childbirth and obesity. I have read several articles and the obesity factor is linked to doctors cohercing obese patients into having c-sections, therefore obviously the higher death rate. Again I feel like hiding due to what people assume based on looks, so sad.
I learned my lesson, (seek comfort from the Lord instead of others).

Susana said...

Hi Rebecca,

I am sorry you did not find the support you were seeking here. Yes, I also have to be reminded to seek comfort from the Lord first 'cause HE is the only one who truly understands and has the answers.

I am sorry if I come across as pointing fingers. I totally have come to understand in life that we ALL have issues and no one is better than another. I am grateful that I don't struggle with my weight and I understand (because of my struggles or flaws) that it can be hard to want to change and not be able to.

BUT I still think that obesity is becoming very common in our society and that it can deliteriously effect childbirth.

I see so many young women who are more obese than their mothers and I cringe for them, for all the problems that they will have to deal with.

I am sorry but I think this issue needs to be discussed. I will tell you that I am quick to get angry and if one of my favorite blogs discussed how bad anger is I wouldn't be put off. I'd see if there were something I could learn.

Anyway, God bless you, your baby and your birth.