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RBC I New mothers need to be aware that maintaining a healthy weight is important for both themselves and their babies. Colorado’s Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program can help.
Lynn Ireland, nutrition coordinator of the WIC program, based at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, said gaining too much weight during pregnancy can increase the mother’s and baby’s risk of health problems.
“Research indicates women who are overweight at the beginning of pregnancy have infants who are more likely to be at risk for childhood obesity. Overweight mothers often gain too much weight during pregnancy and may have a difficult time losing that extra weight after the baby is born. WIC is available to help new mothers improve eating habits for themselves and their families.”
The recommended amount of weight gain during pregnancy depends on a woman’s body mass index before becoming pregnant. Body mass index is a measure of body fat relative to a person’s height and weight. For example, a woman who begins pregnancy with a normal body mass index (18.5 to 24.9) should gain between 25 to 35 pounds during pregnancy. For a body mass index and weight gain calculator to help women determine the appropriate amount of weight to gain during pregnancy, visit the Healthy Baby Campaign website at www.healthy-baby.org/prePregn ancyWeight.html.
Ireland said returning to a healthy weight after pregnancy is a process that is unique for each mother. In addition to staying physically active to lose fat and gain muscle, the WIC program recommends the following tips to help new mothers return to a healthy weight after pregnancy:
n Breastfeed to reduce the risk of childhood obesity and burn additional calories for the mother.
n Start each day with a healthy breakfast.
n Eat five or more servings of fruits and vegetables each day.
n Watch portion sizes.
n Choose foods high in fiber.
n Limit drinks with calories.
n Choose low-fat or fat-free milk and cheese.
n Consume low-calorie snacks such as popcorn.
n Choose lean meats, fish, poultry, and dried beans and peas.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that August and September rank as the busiest months for births in the United States. The same is true for Colorado. In 2010, more Colorado babies were born in September than any other month.
For additional nutrition information and to find out how to apply for the program, visit www.coloradowic.com or call 1-800-688-7777.