Mums should focus on baby joy, not pregnancy weight loss

Mums should focus on baby joy, not pregnancy weight loss

A new report reveals that mothers who are preoccupied with pregnancy weight loss are not only damaging their bodies but these negative attitudes can be passed onto their children, impacting on the precious bond between mothers and their babies.

“Becoming a mother is a time of transition and transformation, yet women face cultural messages about the importance of getting their bodies back into shape after having a baby,” comments Jenny Willott (Minister for Women and Equalities), following a new report.

The report, ‘Two for the Price of One: The impact of body image during pregnancy and after birth’, looks at the myriad of health and psychological effects that body image can have on pregnant women and new mothers, and shows how preoccupation with pregnancy weight loss can be unconsciously transmitted down to their children. During this time the role of midwives and health visitors is important in supporting women’s body image.

There is a relentless pressure on all women, celebrities or not, to be thin all the time and research shows mothers who are constantly worried about pregnancy weight loss are not only damaging their bodies but these negative attitudes can be passed onto their children, impacting on the precious bond between mothers and their babies. Pregnancy and the early months after having a baby should be a time when a women’s focus is on her health and wellbeing, and that of her child. That’s why midwives and health visitors are vital players here.

A group of midwives, health visitors, health psychologists and psychotherapists have been meeting for the last year to discuss possible solutions, and agree that the best way forward is to raise awareness within the professions, helping each midwife and health visitor to reflect on these implications and be alert to pregnancy weight loss issues when they arise.

Cathy Warwick at the Royal College of Midwives said, “New mothers often feel under great pressure, and this can surface in feelings that their bodies are a source of failure or shame. Midwives are there to help. New mothers shouldn’t feel pressured to think, ‘How do I fit back into my skinny jeans?”

Health visitors and midwives are in a prime position to help mothers navigate these unwelcome pressures as they enter the most exciting and yet vulnerable time of their lives. They can enable them to feel confident as they feed themselves and their babies.

Women learn about love, food, attachment and how to be in their bodies from their relationship with their mothers. Helping new mothers feel more at ease in their own bodies is the best anti-viral agent for helping babies to grow up feeling good in theirs.

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