One of the most common causes for pregnancy complications today is obesity in pregnancy; a lifestyle factor that is becoming increasingly common as well.
The detrimental effects of obesity extend not only to maternal health but also impact the pregnancy itself negatively. It isn’t just the mother; obesity in the father can also have far-reaching consequences for a pregnancy and the child later in life.
What constitutes obesity in pregnancy
Having a body mass index of 30 or higher than that is considered obese. So if a woman’s weight is 180 pounds or more at the height of 5 feet 5 inches, she would be considered obese.
If a woman’s height is 5 feet 8 inches, she would be obese at 200 pounds or more. Experts across the board advice women to get their pre-pregnancy weight down to within the normal range before conceiving; because of the possible risks for the mother as well as the baby.
Possible impacts of obesity in pregnancy on the baby
Low birth weight infants are more common among obese mothers. The chances of the child developing diabetes later in life are higher when the mothers are obese.
Birth defects such as spina bifida, neural tube defects, cleft palate or other clefting problems and other congenital abnormalities are more often seen in babies with obese mothers. There is also a higher likelihood of babies being admitted to neonatal intensive care after birth.
Maternal obesity is also liked to increased risk of limb defects and heart related issues. There is some evidence to show that women who have diets high in fats, sugars and salt, may produce babies who have a predilection for junk food. The way that the children’s bodies metabolized food was seen to be different in a rat study and it was also found that the children were more at risk of heart disease, high cholesterol and so on.
Possible impacts of obesity in pregnancy on the mother
Obese women are more likely to have preterm labor and deliveries or have an elective preterm delivery with much higher chances of needing a C section delivery. The chances of miscarrying a pregnancy or having a pregnancy resulting in neonatal death is also higher.
An obese woman is more likely to have preeclampsia (hypertension), blood clots or gestational diabetes, which can lead to several other pregnancy complications.
Tips for managing obesity in pregnancy
It is advisable to try and get to within as close to normal weight as possible by losing weight before conceiving to minimize chances of complications. A doctor’s opinion should be taken if gastric binding /bariatric surgery is advisable if weight loss is not possible any other way. Outcomes of pregnancies after weight loss surgery are better than other obese pregnancies, but it is necessary to wait about a year after the surgery to conceive.
To minimize the risks of obesity in pregnancy, women should speak to their doctor about proper diet management, lifestyle modification, giving up bad habits and so on. Appropriate exercise and supplementation such as folic acid and so on should also be discussed.