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How can obesity negatively affect you and your baby?

If you are an overweight Oregon woman who wants to become pregnant, you may also wish to consider attempting to lose weight prior to conceiving. Why? Because obesity can harm both you and your baby. In fact, the Mayo Clinic reports that the higher your body mass index, the amount of body fat you have in relation to your height and weight, the more difficult you will find it to become pregnant.

Assuming you become pregnant, obesity increases your risk for a number of complications including the following:

  • Miscarriage or stillbirth
  • Gestational diabetes
  • Preeclampsia
  • Sleep apnea
  • Cardiac dysfunction
  • Difficult vaginal delivery

Risks to your baby

Obesity during pregnancy likewise puts your developing baby at risk for fetal macrosomia; i.e., becoming significantly larger than average and with more body fat than normal. This, in turn, increases his or her risk of metabolic syndrome and childhood obesity. Unfortunately, obesity during pregnancy also puts him or her at risk for birth defects.

Prenatal care

If you are obese, defined as a BMI above 24.9, you should schedule an appointment with your OB/GYN or other health care provider before attempting to conceive. (S)he may well refer you to an obesity specialist or a registered dietitian who may be able to help you obtain a healthy pre-pregnancy weight.

Assuming you are already pregnant, regular prenatal care is even more important for you than it is for non-obese mothers-to-be. Your OB/GYN will want to closely monitor your pregnancy so (s)he can detect any complications you may have as soon as possible.

While the Mayo Clinic does not recommend attempting to lose weight during pregnancy, it does recommend the following:

  • Eat a healthy diet so you can avoid excessive pregnancy weight gain.
  • Engage in doctor-approved physical activity such as walking, low-impact aerobics and/or swimming.
  • Never ingest or inhale risky substances such as tobacco, alcohol and illicit drugs.
  • Never begin or stop taking any medications or supplements without your physician’s approval.

This is general educational information and not intended to provide legal advice.