Obesity and pregnancy is a topic that not many people want to discuss, but not discussing it makes the problem worse.
Obesity And Pregnancy – How Does Your Weight Affect Your Pregnancy?
Being overweight or obese during pregnancy can adversely affect you and your baby. The more obese you are the more likely you are to have complications.
But there are things you can do before and during pregnancy to have a healthy baby and a safe delivery.
What is obesity and what causes obesity?
Obesity is a medical condition where a person has accumulated an excessive amount of body fat that may impair health.
People are generally considered obese when their body weight is at least 20% higher than it should be. If a person’s Body Mass Index (BMI) (a statistical measurement derived from your height and weight) is 30 or over they are considered to be obese.
Obesity is a complex illness caused by a number of different factors, for example; food and activity environments, genetics, emotional health, use of certain medications. Obesity increases your risk of disease and health problems particularly certain types of:
- Cardiovascular disease
- Type 2 diabetes
- Irregular periods
- Non-alcoholic fatty liver
- Obstructive sleep apnea
Obesity can also lead to psychological problems that can affect the quality of your life such as:
- Low self-esteem
- Social isolation
Being obese during pregnancy
How will you know if you are at a healthy weight?
It’s not just about the pounds. It’s about your body mass index (BMI). this is a calculation that considers your weight in relation to your height. You can find your BMI by asking your health care provider or by using applications.
Your BMI before pregnancy can help you set weight gain goals during pregnancy. In general, if you were overweight before pregnancy BMI of 25 to 29.9, you want to gain about 15 to 25 during pregnancy, or if you were about a BMI of 30 you have to gain about 11 to 20 pounds during pregnancy.
Don’t ever try to lose weight during pregnancy; severely restricting calories or avoiding certain food groups is not at all healthy during pregnancy because your developing baby needs a variety of nutrients to grow.
How does your weight affect your pregnancy?
Being obese during pregnancy can cause problems, like:
- Premature birth: Birth before 37 weeks of pregnancy. Babies born early may have health problems at birth and later in life.
- Birth defects: Birth defects like defects of the brain, and spine called neural tube defects
- Macrosomia: This is when your baby weighs more than 9 pounds 15 ounces. When the baby is this large they are more likely to get injured during labor and birth. It also increases your chances of needing a cesarean section.
- Health conditions: It can be diabetes, heart disease, and obesity later in life.
If you are overweight you are more likely than other women to have certain complications during pregnancy like;
- High blood pressure, preeclampsia, and blood clots
- Gestational diabetes
- A pregnancy that lasts past your due date
- Problems during labor birth
- Needing to have a C-section
- Miscarriage or stillbirth
So, what does all this mean? It means getting to a healthy weight before pregnancy is very very important. Being at a healthy weight can help you have a healthier pregnancy and a healthier baby here’s what you can do to have a healthier pregnancy:
- Get a preconception checkup, this a medical checkup to make sure you are healthy before you get pregnant. Tell your provider that you are thinking about getting pregnant, they can help you find ways to eat healthily and be active to get a healthy weight
- Get early prenatal care, it is medical care you get during pregnancy, go to all of your prenatal checkups even if you are feeling fine.
- Talk to your obstetrician about how much weight you should gain during pregnancy.
- Eat healthy foods and be active
- Don’t diet, don’t try to stay at the same weight or lose weight during pregnancy
The take-home message really is a healthier pregnancy is possible if you are at a healthier weight. So, if you are able to try to lose weight before getting pregnant, I highly suggest that you try to do that.