SolveYourProblem Article Series: Pregnancy
Pregnancy: Everything You Need To Know



Obesity and Pregnancy Related Complications

While weight and obesity have long concerned women due to looks and lifestyle issues, it is becoming increasingly evident that obesity is a matter of health. Obesity in women can cause serious pregnancy-related complications, but it is also a risk factor that can be modified to improve birth outcomes. Adverse outcomes associated with maternal overweight and obesity includes birth defects, especially neural tube defects, infertility, labor and delivery complications, fetal and neonatal death, maternal complications (e.g. hypertension, gestational diabetes, preeclampsia), and delivery of large-for-gestational-age (LGA) infants. Research has shown that obesity increases the risk of adverse outcomes, such as those listed above, for both mother and baby. Findings suggest that, while obesity may not be an independent risk factor for PTB (preterm birth), obesity does increase rates of medical complications (such as hypertension and diabetes) that have been shown to contribute to PTB. Obesity and being overweight are associated with a variety of adverse health outcomes, such as: cardiovascular disease, some types of cancer, diabetes, stroke, respiratory problems and arthritis.

Weight Matters - For the Health of Both Mother and Child

Women of childbearing age and their health care providers should work together to assess and address this important health issue before, during and after pregnancy. Health care providers can do the following:

  • Inform & counsel women about the health risks associated with overweight and obesity
  • Encourage a healthy diet as outlined by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (Diets that restrict particular food groups are discouraged, especially during pregnancy)
  • Screen for hypertension and diabetes mellitus in women who are at risk
  • Counsel women to consume adequate folic acid, iron and calcium
  • Encourage regular exercise (> 30 minutes of moderate physical activity daily)
  • Counsel women to quit smoking
  • Counsel women to avoid consuming alcohol during pregnancy

During Pregnancy (prenatal)

Recommendations “for ALL women” PLUS the following:

  • Discuss recommended weight gain during pregnancy
  • For women who are attempting to or have quit smoking, continue support to prevent relapse

After Pregnancy (postpartum)

Recommendations for “for ALL women” PLUS the following:

  • Encourage breastfeeding
  • Counsel women to return to a healthy weight
  • For women who are attempting to or have quit smoking, continue support to prevent postpartum relapse

Obese women have an increased risk of infertility and pregnancy-related complications, including hypertension, gestational diabetes, and blood clots. Gestational diabetes can also cause the weight of the baby to rise significantly, increasing the chances of trauma during birth. Women who are obese are more likely than women who aren't to require cesarean sections. Obese women should try to lose weight before becoming pregnant. But it warned women not to diet during pregnancy, noting that "adequate nutrition is important for pregnant women and women planning pregnancy." There are ways to lower calorie intake and still maintain a healthy pregnancy. Excersize is also a good way to trim down some extra pounds. A simple walk, sex, and yoga can help. Try to not over indulge in not so healthy foods and drinks, such as things containing a haigh amount of sugar. Not only will this add to weight gain, it will give an increased risk to diabetes. The idea for the obese women is to replace her fat with baby and gain a minimum of weight. This will help her to burn the extra fat off and trim down some with out compromising the fetus. This also makes losing the weight easier after birth.

Some recent reports suggest that women with gastric banding can have normal pregnancies and better pregnancy outcomes than women who do not have the surgery, but the committee concluded that "it appears reasonable to recommend that pregnancy be delayed until surgery-related weight loss has stabilized." It takes many months and sometimes years to heal appropriately from gastric bipass surgery. Scheduling surgury years before want to be pregnant or after delivery is the best option. Regular weightloss techniques should be used when trying to concieve and during pregnancy. A healthy diet and an excersize program approved by a doctor that reduces weight and promotes health to the mother and baby. Proper prenatal care is also important to minimize healthy concerns and early treatment of isssues if they arrise.

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