When you’re obese and pregnant
“Obese pregnant women are more likely to give birth to babies with excessive body fat and these children may grow up to be obese or overweight adults. The exact cause is not understood,” she says.
Complications that obesity can cause in a pregnancy
Obesity during pregnancy can increase the risk of complications such as gestational diabetes. “Diabetes during pregnancy leads to heavy babies, which may need a Caesarean delivery . In addition, obesity also increases Csection complications such as delayed healing and wound infections. Pre-eclampsia, high blood pressure and protein in urine is common in pregnant obese women. Obesity during pregnancy can cause an increased risk of urinary tract infections. There is also a higher risk of birth defects,” adds Dr Sheth.
Dr Sandeep Mane, IVF specialist says that obesity is defined as Body Mass Index (BMI) of more than or equal to 30. “In the first place, obesity may lead to difficulty in conception. If pregnancy does happen, there is a higher risk of miscarriage. These problems are due to a hormonal imbalance caused by obesity .e Obese women are also at a higher s risk of complications, which may t result in a premature delivery . It can be difficult to give spinal anaesthesia and surgery is also complicated due to excessive t weight. Excessive bleeding (postt partum haemorrhage) and post operative clot formation in the legs are known risks in these women. Wound healing may also be prolonged. During a normal delivery in obese women, there is an increased risk of shoulders. Getting stuck after delivery of the baby’s head. This can be a serious complication leading to injuries to the baby.”
Maintaining a healthy weight is important
Prevention is always better than cure. “Overweight women should e lose weight before they conceive. Diet control and regular exercise should be undertaken seriously.Weight control can improve the chances of conception, decrease chances of miscarriage and reduce risks, especially during childbirth. Normal weight gain in pregnancy is about 11 to 12 kg. In overweight pregnant women, a controlled weight gain of up to seven kgs is advised. Frequent small meals are better than few heavy meals. Regular checkups to look for diabetes and blood pressure can detect complications in time. Regular sonography check ups will detect growth restrictions in the baby . The risk of clot formation in the legs can be reduced by good fluid intake and regular exercise,” advises Dr Mane.
Adds Dr Sheth, “It is not necessary for a pregnant woman to eat for `two’. Yet, she needs extra calories for her to gain weight gradually during her pregnancy . A woman should include enough protein, folic acid, iron, vitamin B12, vitamin A and calcium in her diet. Eat frequent meals, healthy snacks such as nuts, dried fruits, fruits, yogurt etc. Drink plenty of water.Walking, swimming or any low impact exercises are good but talk to your doctor before you begin.”
The best way to avoid obesity complications is to maintain a healthy weight during pregnancy. If you are obese and pregnant, your doctor may recommend a screening test for gestational diabetes earlier in your pregnancy. It is advisable to have frequent prenatal visits to monitor your health.