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Hey Big Mamas: Lose Weight Between Babies, Says Study

EXTREME MAKEOVER: WEIGHT LOSS EDITION - "Sally" - A 45-year-old devoted mother and wife, Sally never dealt with obesity till her 30s. A marketing and communications pro who now works as a Washington, DC tour guide, Sally was a slim, athletic child, adolescent and young adult. But serious injuries in her 20s and early 30s nearly cost her the ability to walk and forced her to spend a year in a wheelchair. This sent her into a weight-gaining spiral which has resulted in her weighing 335 lbs today. With a family history of weight-related illness and premature death, she needs to lose weight to save her life. Sally desperately wants to get back to living life to its fullest with her husband and young son. However she finds it almost impossible to balance motherhood, working, job-hunting and daily exercise. Though she says she's working out at top intensity, when she checks in with Chris, he finds something amiss. He brings in his secret weapon to help her break through her plateaus -- his wife, Heidi, also a physical trainer. Chris says that she's even tougher than he is. Can Heidi succeed in pushing Sally past what she sees as her limits? "Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition" airs SUNDAY, AUGUST 12 (9:00-11:00 p.m., ET) on the ABC Television Network. (Photo by Craig Sjodin/ABC via Getty Images)
Photograph by ABC via Getty Images

As if we didn't already have our hands full between diapers and feedings: A new study from Saint Louis University urges obese women to lose weight between pregnancies. The research, which appeared in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, said that the between-babies interval is a crucial time for weight loss.

What makes this a golden window? Most new moms have plenty of health-care pros on hand to provide encouragement and guidance, the study's authors said.

They point out that this kind of healthy weight loss benefits not only moms, but their babies too—a conclusion they reached after examining the records of more than 10,000 women (all Missouri residents) who'd delivered their first two babies between 1998 and 2005. Their findings: Obese women who lost weight between pregnancies were more likely to have babies who were normal-sized for their gestational age than women who gained weight or whose weight didn't change.

It's all noteworthy stuff for the millions of us moms who struggle with our weight - more than one in four U.S. women beginning their pregnancies as obese. These moms face special risks during their pregnancies, including high blood pressure, pregnancy-related diabetes, and a higher risk of having babies who are large for their gestational age (which in turn can lead to problems like low blood sugar and jaundice, as well as childhood diabetes).

Large babies are more likely to have low blood sugar and jaundice soon after birth, and are at greater risk of developing childhood obesity and metabolic syndrome, which is a series of medical problems that contribute to the development of diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

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