Why Aren't Docs Giving Obese Pregnant Women Accurate Advice?
4 months ago
Talks aren't tailored to their needs
It's no secret that women gain weight during their pregnancies—some obviously more than others, but still usually under the careful counsel of their physicians. However, according to a recent study by the Penn State College of Medicine, when the mother-to-be was already overweight or obese prior to being blessed with a bundle of joy, many doctors fail to provide the right advice for their specific needs—or any advice regarding their weight at all.
After interviewing two dozen overweight and obese new moms after the births of their first children, researchers found that the majority—87.5 percent—gained an amount of weight during their pregnancies that exceeded recommendations. In fact, half were incorrectly told to gain an amount that was more than they should have, with health care providers likely using guidelines for normal-weight women and not adjusting their advice accordingly. (According to Penn State medical experts, normal-weight women are advised to gain 25 to 35 pounds during a pregnancy, overweight women should gain 15 to 25 pounds, while obese women should gain less than 20 pounds.)
Golda Poretsky, holistic health counselor and founder of Body Love Wellness, believes the doctors' poor guidance is due to their own biases.
"Larger women often have a very difficult time dealing with health professionals," said Poretsky. "They often have issues that go untreated because doctors see them and prescribe weight loss before even looking for other causes. I've worked with women who were told to lose weight while pregnant even though restricting food is dangerous for them. And a recent study showed that health professionals have a strong bias against larger people, stereotyping them as lazy and noncompliant, so it's not surprising that they're getting bad advice."
Additionally, nutritionist and holistic health expert Julie E. says physicians often fail to relate to their patients—ironically, even when they themselves are out of shape, too. ("How many fit doctors do you know?," she asked.)
"The main reason doctors do not counsel these women correctly is that many of them are men and really cannot truly relate to being female and all that comes along with that, like emotional eating, body image, etc.," said Julie. "And medical doctors simply are not trained in nutrition or fitness. They aren't really qualified to have that conversation."