Pregnant and eating for two? Perhaps you shouldn’t be…

There are a few little luxuries that go hand-in-hand with pregnancy; being given the only seat on a train, getting away with nanna napping during the day, and having an extra helping of dessert. You’re eating for two, after all. Now science is determined to strip pregnant woman of this divine right, courtesy of an Australian study.

No one seems to bat an eyelid when a pregnant woman chows down on her extra large meal with gusto, because: growing a tiny human. But expectant mums, prepare to have your extra-helping parade significantly rained on by the University of New South Wales.

Apparently, when pregnant, a woman’s body is able to conserve extra energy, and get more calories out of food – and this can be done without needing to eat more than usual. Sigh.

The UNSW study has challenged the commonly-held belief that expectant mothers should be entitled to sneak in a little extra. The study followed the weight gain, energy spent and food intake of 26 pregnant women at St George Hospital in Sydney.

What researchers found is that the women gained an average of 10.8 kilos – most of which was ‘additional fat mass’, mainly put on during the first and second trimesters. Now here’s the interesting part – these additional fat stores were gained even though there was a rise in daily energy demand and no real change in the amount of food being eaten.

UNSW Professor Tony O’Sullivan, who led the study, says the findings are in contrast to the advice expectant women are usually given.

“These findings suggest the need for reassessment of nutritional advice given to pregnant women, as current advice to increase energy intake may be increasing the risk of excessive gestational weight gain,” he says.

But Professor O’Sullivan supports current Australian Dietary Guidelines for pregnancy, and wants further research to be conducted.

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