Porky pregnancies or body dysmorphia?

A twisted message about keeping your weight low -- real low -- while you're expecting.

Published June 6, 2006 9:29PM (EDT)

There was a story today in Britain's Daily Mail about a study on the effects of obesity on pregnant women and what hospitals and care providers are doing to address them. It was an interesting piece, taking into account some of the increased risk factors faced by overweight mothers-to-be, including the fact that extra weight can interfere with ultrasound images of a developing fetus.

The study revealed that there is no real policy on medical advice given to expectant mothers who carry extra pounds. Researchers are recommending that seriously obese women not opt for at-home births or birthing pools, and that there needs to be a broader array of maternity equipment available to meet their needs, like stonger delivery beds. Carolyn Summerbell, the head of the Centre for Food, Physical Activity and Obesity Research, told the Daily Mail, "We're not trying to blame or stigmatize obese pregnant mothers and we would certainly not recommend that overweight mums-to-be go on crash diets ... But our initial findings show reasons for concern with obese pregnant mothers, and there is a lack of weight management guidance and support readily available for them."

Sounds like a healthy attitude toward improving healthcare to me. Except check out the image the Daily Mail decided to use above the caption "Obese pregnant women put their unborn baby's health at risk, say researchers." Yeah. That lady is obese all right. Way to send a healthy message to moms.

By Rebecca Traister

Rebecca Traister writes for Salon. She is the author of "Big Girls Don't Cry: The Election that Changed Everything for American Women" (Free Press). Follow @rtraister on Twitter.

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