To weigh or not to weigh…
To weigh or not to weigh pregnant women…
The question of whether to weigh pregnant women throughout pregnancy has been a sticking point in practice for decades. Initially, the routine weighing of pregnant women at pregnancy visits began in 1941. This practice emerged amid concerns that wartime rationing might result in maternal malnutrition.
In the 1970s the focus shifted towards the risks associated with excess weight gain, including its potential as a sign of pre-eclampsia. Additional research linking maternal weight gain and infant outcomes changed the purpose of weighing women during pregnancy. It became a screening tool for small-for-gestational-age (SGA) and low birth weight infants, to help detect pre-eclampsia, and to clinically monitor maternal obesity.
In the early 1990s, the decision to weigh pregnant women during antenatal visits became unpopular. Some believed that the process caused pregnant women anxiety with little evidence of an improvement in outcomes. This belief resulted in an attitude and cultural change in antenatal care and a decline in this practice.
As the debate continues and practice evolves around available evidence, this may no longer be the case. Now we know the association between excessive weight gain during pregnancy, birth outcomes and long term maternal health. So, weight monitoring in clinical practise has become more routine.
Please discuss this with your pregnancy care provider in order to ensure you have all the information. You need to make an informed decision about whether your weight will be routinely monitored throughout your pregnancy.
Dr Janelle McAlpine (PhD), Clinical Midwife
Women’s Health Queensland Wide Inc.
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