Women who are overwreight or obese before they conceive have an increased risk of complications during pregnancy and birth, which can pose health problems for both the mother and baby in the long term.
Being overweight while pregnant can lead to blood clots, gestational diabetes, premature birth, longer labour, an emergency caesarean section and a longer recovery post-partum. However, it’s still possible to have a happy and healthy pregnancy, even if your BMI lies above 25 (the point at which someone is considered overweight) or 30 (considered as obese). Just make sure to follow this advice.
Being seriously overweight or obese can actually reduce your chances of getting pregnant. This goes for men as well—being overweight or obese may contribute to fertility problems. Make a healthy lifestyle a family goal and work at it together.
For anyone who’s planning to get pregnant, take the year beforehand to really pay attention to your health. Upping your fresh produce intake, taking a folic acid supplement, getting active and going to regular check-ups will go a long way to improve your health.
So, you’re pregnant now—between morning sickness, swollen feet, crazy cravings and your all-around general exhaustion, keeping up with your health plan can feel like the last thing on your mind.
However, doctors advise that if you can manage it, a low-impact exercise routine will do you a world of good. Practices like prenatal yoga, long walks, swimming or daily stretching will keep you in good health. Speak with your obstetrician to make sure your plans are safe.
While you develop your exercise routine, make sure you leave ideas of body-shaming at the door. Intellectually, you know that you will gain weight during pregnancy; yet emotionally, it can be a challenge to keep on top of your fitness routine while you find yourself gaining weight—especially in the first trimester, when there’s no discernible baby-bump.
Pregnancy is not the time to lose weight, says the American College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists. No matter your size, you should expect to add pounds during these months, not shed them.
It’s essential to talk to your doctor about what a healthy weight gain during pregnancy will be for you. It helps to know your BMI, as this will inform what a normal weight will be, along with your recommended caloric intake.
Women who are overweight should expect to add somewhere between 15 and 25 pounds during pregnancy; while women who are obese should gain 11-20 pounds. If you’re pregnant with twins, expect to add 31-50 pounds if overweight and 25-42 if obese.
Regular check-ups with your doctor during your pregnancy can help you catch any medical issues that may arise, as well as making sure that you are gaining a healthy amount of weight.
Generally, your care from your doctor should be the same as that of someone whose weight is classed as normal; however, you may wish to ask for a glucose tolerance test earlier.
Overweight and obese women are at a high risk of getting gestational diabetes, and this test—usually given at the end of the second trimester—can help mums-to-be stay ahead of this potential problem. Ask for it at the end of the first trimester, instead.
Your little one is here! You did it! However, there are still some risks for overweight and obese women to keep an eye on post-partum.
Make sure to have the blood pressure of both you and your baby monitored for a few weeks after birth, especially if you developed high blood pressure or pre-eclampsia during pregnancy.
Overweight and obese women are also at high risk of thrombosis, or blood clots, after birth. To reduce this risk, try to be active as soon as you feel comfortable. Make sure you maintain regular visits to your doctor and continue to follow advice on healthy eating and exercise. hc
What is BMI?
BMI—or Body Mass Index—is a way of calculating if your weight is healthy, based on your height and weight. Generally, a BMI that falls between 18.5 and 25 is considered normal. Anything above that is classed as overweight, with obesity starting at a BMI of 30. If you’re interested in calculating your own BMI, visit the NHS website.