Are you concerned about pregnancy and obesity? If so, you’re not alone. According to the CDC, one in four of pregnant women in the U.S. are considered overweight (a BMI between 25 and 29.9), at the beginning of pregnancy. Another quarter (25%) are considered obese (a BMI between 30 and 39.9). Various risk factors during pregnancy, including the weight of the expectant mother, can affect the health of mom and baby. Learn more about potential complications and what you can do to promote a healthy pregnancy.
How much can obesity during pregnancy affect your health and your baby’s health?
The University of Oxford in 2013 studied the health of pregnant women who were overweight obese or very obese (a BMI above 40). Women in all three categories faced risks of complications during childbirth that were 6%-12% higher than women of normal weight. However, the increased risks weren’t the same for all women. Obese women who had already had a child and didn’t have high blood pressure or diabetes didn’t have as much risk. Mothers with a high BMI but with a low-risk pregnancy can plan to have their child in a hospital, at home, or at a birth center.
How might obesity affect my pregnancy?
Being obese during pregnancy increases the risk of certain pregnancy complications, including:
- Gestational diabetes
- Cardiac dysfunction
- Sleep apnea
- A difficult vaginal delivery
- The need for a C-section
Will I need specialized care during pregnancy?
If you’re obese, your health care provider might recommend early testing for gestational diabetes and screening for obstructive sleep apnea.
What can I do to promote a healthy pregnancy?
- You can limit the impact of obesity on your pregnancy and help ensure your health and your baby’s health. For example:
- Schedule an appointment before conception.
- Seek regular prenatal care.
- Be physically active (although speak to your health care worker before engaging in new exercises).
- Avoid risky substances such as alcohol, nicotine, and illicit drugs.
How much weight should I gain during pregnancy?
Your weight and BMI prior to pregnancy as well as your health all determine how much weight is recommended you gain during pregnancy. Start by considering these general guidelines from the Mayo Clinic:
- Single pregnancy (one baby): weight gain of 11 to 20 pounds.
- Multiple pregnancies (twins or multiples): weight gain of 25 to 42 pounds.
Talk with your doctor to determine what’s best in your situation. Typically, you should not aim to lose weight during pregnancy.
To discuss your individual health needs and how to have the healthiest pregnancy possible, contact us at (479) 582-9268 to schedule an appointment.