Obesity and Pregnancy

by MuminBusiness

Are you overweight or obese and thinking of getting pregnant or already pregnant? Have a look...

When women reach the age of fertility, a lot of women find themselves dealing with an unplanned pregnancy. This is not necessarily a bad thing as sometimes you make a sudden decision to get pregnant. If however, you did not want to get pregnant then that is a different kettle of fish and not quite what I am talking about so you may want to click back out again, right about now!

The thing about impromptu unplanned pregnancies is that you may not have had time to prepare your body for the happy event. My first pregnancy was a bit like this, I knew I was ready to be pregnant and just left it to chance to see what happened and happen it did, pretty hastily. I was sooo excited!

However, I could have spent a little more time getting into shape, getting to the right weight, exercising my stomach muscles, making sure I was taking my folic acid and getting my diet and nutrition up to scratch.

The facts and risks of Obesity and Pregnancy

In the UK, almost one in every two women of child bearing age is obese or overweight and additionally about 20% of pregnant women have a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 30 or more when they become pregnant.  I imagine it is similar to most developed countries round the world as the problem for us now seems to be too much food and too little quality in our diets.

Now, there is no reason to get scared if you are already pregnant and overweight or obese as the chances are your pregnancy will go all the way to completion with no concerns whatsoever.  I am living testament to that!  However, the higher your BMI is over 25, the higher chance you have of having a miscarriage, or even developing other adverse conditions such as gestational diabetes, thrombosis and pre-eclampsia (a serious condition that is diagnosed if the mother has high blood pressure and high protein levels in the urine.)

Your baby is also at risk of heart or spine defects.  Again, no fear as the chances are you will be okay if you are pregnant already but if you are not then it may be wise to try to get your body in peak performance or at least to a BMI of 24…

Some of the other risks associated with obesity in pregnancy include a higher incidence of early labour, a need to induce your baby, caesarean sections and shoulder dystocia (this is where the baby’s head comes out but then the shoulders get stuck on their way out of the canal.  Eek!)

Another less thought-of possibility(or risk, depending on whether you would like to or not) is that there is a tendency for ladies not to breastfeed if overweight or obese.  As breastfeeding does help you lose extra weight after the birth (not a lot, I don’t think – or maybe I just ate far too much!), you are even less likely to lose weight after the birth which could mean that any subsequent pregnancies you have start at a much higher weight, enhancing all the above stated pregnancy obese risks.

How to reduce the risks associated with obesity in pregnancy.

Fortunately, you do not have to go on some major weight loss diet if you are already pregnant as that too is not safe for the baby at all.  There are things you can do

  • Follow a balanced diet and only increase your calorie intake by about 200 calories in the final trimester.  So add a cake to your day rather than eating two of everything like you might be tempted to do.  Remember the extra 200 calories only apply in the last 12 or so weeks, NOT the WHOLE pregnancy.  

    The idea is not to lose weight but rather to reduce the amount you put on.
  •  A little exercise each day will help keep your weight in check.  Do not exercise if you are on bed rest or have your placenta in the wrong place.  There is a tendency to think that you should rest and sit as much as possible, do not give in to it.  Get some rest when your body really needs it but try to remain as active as you can without pain.  It will benefit you even after the birth.  You just might spring back if your body is already tightly held together by muscles.
  • If not pregnant already then start to take some folic acid as soon as you think of pregnancy.  Folic Acid should be taken until at least the twelfth week of pregnancy.  If you are overweight or obese then it may be best to ask your physician for an enhanced dose of folic acid.


  • Supplement your Omega-3 as well as a recent study has suggested that this could combat the risk of delivering your baby too soon.


  • Remain positive and enjoy your pregnancy, obese or not. 

Other information hubs on pregnancy

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Updated: 03/13/2012, MuminBusiness
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