Poor Women Are Getting Too Fat During Pregnancy


pregnant bellyThe younger and poorer you are, the more likely you are to pack on extra pounds during pregnancy, and the less likely you are to lose that weight after you have the baby.

A study found that out of 427 women between the ages of 14 and 25 who were cared for at a medical clinic that served women in poverty, two-thirds put on more weight than was recommended during pregnancy, and half of them were at least 10 pounds heavier a year after having their baby.

And before we start getting all finger-pointy about it, let's think about why that might be.

While I'm not in poverty myself, I live in a city (Detroit) that has among the highest poverty rates in the country, so I can observe some of the dynamic up close. The biggest problem, in many cases, is that fresh, healthy food just isn't readily available.

If you rely on public transportation to get around and the closest grocery store is several miles away, you're more likely to just walk up to the local gas station or liquor store and take your chances with whatever you can find. If you're lucky, there might be a stale apple or banana on the shelves, but mostly you're looking at chips, cookies, and candy. Milk, while available, is incredibly expensive relative to the 2-for-a-dollar bottles of sugary fruit drink.

We have a huge farmers' market near downtown that actually takes WIC and food stamps, so people are able to get their hands on healthy food, and the prices are good so they can actually get a lot for their money. But it can be an hour-long or more bus ride one way from most parts of the city, which can be a problem if you work the one day a week it's open.

And exercise is difficult when you live in a neighborhood you don't feel safe walking through and can't afford a gym. Sadly, that's the reality for way too many women.

One thing that can help, the authors of the study say, is breastfeeding, but breastfeeding rates among poor and minority women are low. There's a lot of reasons for that, and it confounds smarter minds than mine as to why people who would benefit themselves and their babies the most from breastfeeding don't do it. In some ways, it might just be the support issue again. I think most of us would be a lot more likely to reach for the formula can if we were the only person in our family ever to even consider nursing, and certainly more likely to abandon it within those first few difficult weeks.

There are groups that aim to bring fresh produce to places like gas stations and party stores, either encouraging owners to carry it or showing up with a cart full near the beginning of the month, when food stamps are distributed. That will certainly help, and so will encouraging breastfeeding.

Setting all mothers and babies up for the healthiest start is something we should all get behind, don't you think?


Image via dizznbonn/Flickr

eating for two, pregnancy health, weight gain


To add a comment, please log in with

Use Your CafeMom Profile

Join CafeMom or Log in to your CafeMom account. CafeMom members can keep track of their comments.

Join CafeMom or Log in to your CafeMom account. CafeMom members can keep track of their comments.

Comment As a Guest

Guest comments are moderated and will not appear immediately.

Jus Nikki

Where in the hell do they come up with this bullshit!?

xavie... xavierlogan09

i have a cousin who got pregnant as a teen. her mom gets 800 bucks in food stamps a month. so she could have afforded to eat healthy. she choose to eat tons of fast food.  because her excuse was she was pregnant and she could eat whatever she wanted. she gained too much weight and doesn't exercise so she's still overweight. i think it depends on what and how much you eat. not whether or not you're poor. 

wootza wootza

Don't understand why this is such a big surprise - it's not just pregnant women - it's those in poverty in general, and for all the aforementioned reasons.  If you've got little money and want food, what are you going to buy?  Quick, CHEAP food.  Healthy stuff isn't cheap - we all know this.  What should be discussed, as was broached by the topic, is how to get cheap healthy food readily available and how to educate the masses on balancing a diet rich in horrible food with adequate exericse.

Cryst... Crystal8327

I call b.s. I know very wealthy people who are overweight and poor string beans. Being overweight is an American problem not just poor. And yea a head of lettuce is more money than cheap chopmeat and ramen noodles nowadays. I get foodstamps and can barely make it last with the prices for anything other than posion. I am not overweight but I don't eat great i just use portion control and try my best to not eat too much crap.

nonmember avatar Allboys

They already sell fresh produce at the gas station. besides the point that bringing a banana, a bottle of water as well as a little packet of almonds with you will stabilize your blood sugar longer and is much more cost effective but were not discussing that. Were talking about blowing smoke up the ass of women who gain 70 pounds because they couldn't resist eating the entire damn box of ho ho's. I had the conversation with my economically challenged sibling about the fact that her baby wasn't going to weigh 60 pounds and she will be pissed about it later. She went on this long diatribe about how I had no clue (while I was pregnant munching on whole grains and salad). All the excuses in the world is just that. I can feed my entire 6 person family on less that what a family of six gets on a food stamp card and that's mostly fresh home made food. People need to wake up and take accountability for their own actions. If you ate a box of Twinkies every day of your pregnancy own it and your extra 30 pounds.

Kittt... Kittty_Katt

bullshit blame poor ppl for gaining a bit of extra weight ? why its not like they can help it and do it cause they want too..

Cryst... Crystal8327

More blaming games directed at the people on the bottom, its quiete amusing. And food costs vary where you live and so do foodstamp allowments for the smart ass above. I get under 200 a month. Stop assuming.

jmtmn jmtmn

Ok, I guess this might be a little bit off topic but isn't the bigger problem here that poor women should not be having children? I'm so sorry that we all have to figure out a way for them to get access to healthy food during their pregnancy so that when the kid is born we have another person in this country on food stamps. Having children is a privledge, not a right. If you can't afford healthy food, you can not afford to be a parent.

Cryst... Crystal8327

Lol jmtmn. You do realize things happen after children are born? I had to cut back my hours at work due to my sons health issues so at the part time hours i work i do qualify for a marginal bit of help which I did and will not again once I am full time salaried again. Good going looking like a stupid wench because you know every single person's circumstances right rolling on floor.

Cryst... Crystal8327

And for all you aholes information i gained 28 lbs while pregnant and had my dr nagging me because i barely gained an ounce until over 5 months but why don't we mind our own business about how much weight another puts on

1-10 of 13 comments 12 Last