Good Nutrition Keeps Moms and Babies Healthy The old adage that a woman “eats for two” during pregnancy may be misleading and unhealthy advice to follow. Choosing a balanced diet, staying active, and paying attention to weight during pregnancy may maintain or improve a woman’s health during her pregnancy and beyond. During pregnancy, it is recommended that a woman add 300 calories to her daily caloric intake to meet both her body’s needs and those of her baby. Most pregnant women are able to obtain these extra calories, or extra energy, through small changes in their diet. If a woman eats more calories than her body needs, the calories will be converted to stored energy or what is better known as fat. A certain amount of stored energy is important in pregnancy, but too much of this may lead to long-term health risks for mom, without any benefits to the baby. Researchers at Bassett Healthcare in Cooperstown looked at this issue with a team of scientists form Cornell University in a project aptly called The Bassett Mothers Health Project. Mothers in the project who gained more than the recommended weight were less likely to lose the weight after their baby’s birth. Anyone who has ever tried to lose weight knows that it can be an incredible challenge. With a new baby at home and all the demands on the new mother, it may be very difficult for her to follow an exercise regime, change her eating habits, or use other strategies to take off the weight. The best way to avoid the problem of being overweight after childbirth may be by preventing it from happening. Helping women achieve and maintain good nutrition and desirable weight gain during pregnancy is a continuing goal of midwives and other health care providers. Staying in the range of ideal weight gain during pregnancy, when women may be more motivated than ever to eat well and stay healthy, may help them maintain good nutritional habits throughout their lives. Health care providers are looking at how health changes made by women during pregnancy may influence their health behaviors on a long-term basis. Bassett Healthcare and Cornell will team up again in researching ways to help mothers stay within the range of desirable weight gain during pregnancy. This new study, soon to be tested at Bassett Healthcare, may help women to make healthier food choices and to avoid common problems. Bassett Mothers Health Project Too, as the project is called, will enlist the expertise of nurse midwives, physicians, nurses and dietitians to help women who begin their pregnancies at normal weight, or just above normal weight, to stay within ideal weight goals. Moms will be invited to take part in the project beginning this month. They will receive information, counseling and a newsletter containing helpful tips for healthful eating and moderate exercise. Women will be taught how to graph their weight and monitor their overall weight trends. Women will also keep track of their diets and will be eligible to receive small gifts as a way of thanking them for their participation. The health team hopes to build on the great success of the first Bassett Mothers Health Project. They hope to identify women who are at risk for unhealthy weight gain, and help them achieve good nutrition, healthy pregnancies and healthy babies. An added benefit may be healthier moms. Laura O’Shea, RD, CNM, MSN, is a Certified Nurse Midwife and Registered Dietitian at Bassett Healthcare, and a member of the Bassett Mothers Health Project Too research team.