When it comes to packing on too many prenatal pounds, do you need an intervention? In a study from researchers at Brown University, women with a normal pre-pregnancy weight were more likely to maintain a healthy weight during pregnancy if they took part in a face-to-face meeting with an "interventionist," a registered dietitian who provided specifics about pregnancy weight gain.
Published February 10, 2011, in an online edition of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers described intervention meetings as a way to teach women specifics about what constitutes healthy prenatal weight gain, the need for physical activity such as walking, calorie goals, reducing fat intake, and daily self-monitoring.
The 400 moms-to-be who participated in the interventions also received scales, pedometers, and follow-up coaching calls for support. The results? Among women with a normal pre-pregnancy weight, only 40 percent gained more than current recommendations, compared to 52 percent of a comparable group of women who did not receive interventions. Six months after delivery, 36 percent of women who received the intervention were at or below their pre-pregnancy weight, compared to only 20 percent who received only standard care.
Overweight moms-to-be also took part in interventions, but the results were not as promising. A plus-size woman's chances of gaining too much weight were still about the same, whether or not she received specific information about weight gain. But after giving birth, overweight moms did seem to benefit: 25 percent of those in the intervention group returned to their pre-pregnancy weight or below, compared to only 16 percent of women who received standard care.
"What might have happened is that obese and overweight women learned skills during the pregnancy that they had difficulty implementing at that time," says co-author Rena Wing, professor of psychiatry and human behavior at the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University. "After the pregnancy they were able to implement these skills more effectively and so got back to their pre-pregnancy weights."