How does obesity affect pregnancy and contribute to weight gain during pregnancy?

Obesity among pregnant women poses a significant challenge to women’s health in the present day. It is associated with an elevated risk of various pregnancy complications. Women with a higher body mass index (BMI) are more prone to experiencing conditions such as gestational hypertension, pre-eclampsia, gestational diabetes mellitus, giving birth to larger-than-average infants, and a higher likelihood of congenital defects. The presence of obesity during pregnancy can impact both the mother’s well-being and the health of the unborn child. You can consult with our best gynecologist in Ludhiana to receive recommendations on healthy weight management and gain during pregnancy, as well as advice on promoting a wholesome pregnancy.

What is obesity?

Obesity is a condition characterized by excessive body fat, which can have negative impacts on a person’s health. It is determined by calculating an individual’s Body Mass Index (BMI). A BMI between 25 and 29.9 is considered overweight, while a BMI of 30 or higher is classified as obesity. There are three categories of obesity based on BMI values, each representing increasing health risks:

  • Category I obesity: BMI of 30–34.9
  • Category II obesity: BMI of 35–39.9
  • Category III obesity: BMI of 40 or higher.

What are the potential health risks associated with obesity during pregnancy?

  1. Gestational hypertension:

One of the risks linked to obesity during pregnancy is the development of gestational hypertension, which refers to elevated blood pressure that emerges during the second trimester. 

  1. Pre-eclampsia: 

Severe gestational hypertension, known as preeclampsia, is a condition that typically arises in the latter stages of pregnancy or shortly after childbirth. In the case of obese women, this condition can lead to complications such as liver and kidney failure. It may also present risks of seizures, heart attacks, strokes, and other serious health issues. Additionally, there can be concerns related to the placenta and the growth of the fetus.

  1. Macrosomia: 

One consequence of this condition is that the fetus tends to be larger than average, which can potentially lead to birth injuries during the delivery process.

  1. Gestational diabetes:

When blood sugar levels are elevated during pregnancy, there is an increased likelihood of giving birth to a very large baby. In such cases, mothers may require Caesarean deliveries. Women who experience gestational diabetes are also at a higher risk of developing diabetes mellitus later in life, which can further pass on to their children as well.

  1. Obstructive sleep apnea: 

Sleep apnea is a condition characterized by the temporary interruption of breathing during sleep. When experienced during pregnancy, it can lead to fatigue and increase the risk of pre-eclampsia, high blood pressure, and complications related to the heart and lungs.

  1. Issues with diagnostic procedures: 

Excessive body fat can make it more difficult to identify certain fetal anatomical issues during an ultrasound examination. Additionally, monitoring the fetal heart rate during labor can be more challenging for obese individuals.

What are the steps to consider to support a healthy pregnancy?

Despite the risks associated with obesity, it is possible to have a healthy pregnancy by following certain steps. These include maintaining careful weight management, monitoring diet and exercise, and regularly receiving prenatal care to identify and address potential complications. Additionally, special considerations for labor and delivery may be necessary in such cases.

Stick to a weight-loss plan

One of the most effective ways to reduce the risks associated with obesity is to achieve weight loss before getting pregnant. Even a modest amount of weight loss can significantly improve both pregnancy outcomes and overall health.

If you haven’t been physically active before, pregnancy can be an opportune time to start exercising. However, it’s crucial to consult with your doctor to ensure that your exercise program is safe and suitable for you. Aim to engage in 30 minutes of exercise most days of the week, ideally on a daily basis. Additionally, taking a 20-minute walk after each meal can be beneficial.

Walking is a suitable exercise option, particularly for those who are new to physical activity. Another beneficial exercise for pregnant women is swimming, as the water provides support, reducing the risk of injuries and muscle strain. Moreover, swimming can contribute to a sense of calmness.

Consume a healthy diet

To ensure the well-being of both yourself and your growing fetus, it is crucial to find a balance between consuming nutritious foods and maintaining a healthy weight during pregnancy. On average, a pregnant woman needs an additional 300 calories per day during the second and third trimesters. This is roughly equivalent to a glass of skim milk and half of a sandwich. Consulting a nutritionist can provide valuable guidance in creating a well-rounded and healthy diet plan.

Adding foods that are low in carbohydrates and fats but high in protein can be beneficial for your diet during pregnancy. Therefore, we recommend you reduce the consumption of rice in order to manage carbohydrate intake effectively.

Points that can help obese pregnant women 

  • Choose foods and beverages that contain natural sweetness instead of those with artificial sweeteners or added sugars.
  • Creating a healthy home environment involves keeping unhealthy snacks and junk food out of reach to avoid temptation.
  • You can choose lower-fat products when it comes to butter, cooking oils, gravy, regular salad dressings, sauces, mayonnaise, lard, sour cream, and cream cheese to reduce your fat intake.
  • Collaborate closely with your Obstetrician to reduce risks and promote a healthy pregnancy.

By following these guidelines, you can mitigate risks and support the well-being of both yourself and your developing baby during pregnancy.

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