The worldwide prevalence of obesity has increased substantially over the past few decades. Economic, technological and lifestyle changes coupled with decreased physical activity has led obesity to reach epidemic proportions both in developed and developing countries. This is making weight gain before pregnancy a high-risk obstetric situation. Healthcare professionals all over the world agree that gaining excess weight before pregnancy increases risk both to the mother and the foetus. Steps are being taken by hospitals and medical professionals across the globe to counsel obese women on the implications of obesity. Globally, this is likely to have major implications on obese pregnant women and their babies.
“Excessive weight gain during pregnancy can lead to numerous problems including the delivery as the mother’s weight directly impacts the foetus causing miscarriages, respiratory problems and preterm birth.” – Dr. Poornima Ramakrishna, MBBS, MS (OBGYN)
Obese women face a number of problems during conception including:
- Defects in fertilisation: An obese woman finds it difficult to conceive as the fat accumulated around her abdominal area makes egg fertilisation by a healthy sperm difficult.
- Difficulty in conception: Obese and overweight women have extra fat surrounding their uterus, making it difficult for them to conceive.
- Irregular menstrual cycle: Most obese women have an irregular menstrual cycle and that makes it challenging to know their fertile phase.
- Increased chances of miscarriage: There is an increased chance of miscarriage as the extra fat around the uterus obstructs the growth of the foetus, causing problems in the absorption of nutrition too.
Obesity during pregnancy puts the woman at a risk of some serious health problems like:
- Hypertension – The high blood pressure or hypertension starts during the 2nd half of pregnancy is called gestational hypertension, which could lead to serious complications.
- Preeclampsia – It is a serious illness that may disrupt the functioning of kidneys and liver. Severe cases could lead to mortality of both mother and child.
- Diabetes – High blood glucose levels during pregnancy increases the risk of having a large baby and a C-section. Women who have gestational diabetes carry the risk of having diabetes in the future as well as passing the same risk to their children.
- Thrombo-embolism (clotting of blood)
- Developing respiratory diseases (asthma and sleep apnoea)
- Babies born to obese mothers could have an increased risk of birth defects like heart and neural tube defects.
- Preterm birth – Challenges due to obesity could lead to increased chances of preterm delivery. Infants born way before their term have increased risks to their health, breathing, eating, developmental and learning faculties.
- Stillbirth/abortions – Increased risk of abortions/stillbirths could occur due to the mother’s higher BMI.
An overweight pregnant woman also faces problems post delivery which is an added incentive for obese women to start making some lifestyle changes. By following a proper diet and exercising regularly, pregnant women can maintain their ideal weight without facing problems. To know more about how weight gain affects the baby, visit Apollo Cradle.