According to the World Health Organization (WHO), around 800 million people worldwide are obese. As a result, it is correct to call obesity an epidemic. Obese people are more likely to develop noncommunicable diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and certain cancers, as well as mental health problems, due to the weight gain stigma. Furthermore, there are various dangers associated with obesity during pregnancy. Hence, if you intend to start a family, you must first determine your body mass index (BMI).
Complications associated with obesity and pregnancy
A high BMI during pregnancy can be harmful to both your health and the health of your baby. Obesity is defined as having a BMI of 30 or greater. Whereas women with a BMI of 25 to 29.9 are considered overweight and a BMI of 18.5 to 24.9 is considered healthy and safe, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). So, if you’re obese, you’re more likely to have difficulties from conceiving a baby to delivery.
HealthShots asked Dr Suhasini Inamdar, Consultant- Obstetrician and Gynaecologist, Motherhood Hospitals, Indiranagar, Bengaluru, to explain how obesity could affect pregnancy.
Dr Inamdar says, “Obesity is a serious health concern for women of reproductive age, especially those who are pregnant or planning to become pregnant. It can lead to numerous complications during pregnancy.”
5 complications of obesity during pregnancy
1. Gestational diabetes
Obesity increases the risk of developing gestational diabetes during pregnancy. This type of diabetes can cause high blood sugar levels in the mother and the baby, leading to complications such as macrosomia (large birth weight), preterm delivery, and respiratory distress syndrome.
Obesity is also associated with a higher risk of developing pre-eclampsia, a pregnancy-related condition that causes high blood pressure and protein in the urine. This can lead to serious complications for both the mother and the baby, including premature birth and low birth weight.
3. Caesarean delivery
Obesity increases the risk of caesarean delivery, which can lead to longer recovery times, increased risk of infection, and increased risk of complications during subsequent pregnancies.
4. Miscarriage and stillbirth
Obesity is associated with an increased risk of miscarriage, stillbirth, and recurrent miscarriage which can be devastating for the mother and the family. It can happen due to several side effects of obesity on your body such as high blood pressure.
5. Birth defects
Obesity during pregnancy increases the risk of birth defects, including neural tube defects, heart defects, and orofacial clefts. The appropriate pre-pregnancy weight and BMI vary depending on individual factors such as height, weight, and health status. So, make sure you first understand whether your body is healthy or not to carry a pregnancy and then plan a pregnancy.
Obesity can cause numerous complications during pregnancy, including gestational diabetes, pre-eclampsia, caesarean delivery, miscarriage and stillbirth, and birth defects. Maintaining a healthy weight and BMI before and during pregnancy is crucial for a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby. Women who are planning to become pregnant or who are already pregnant should work with their healthcare provider to develop a plan for healthy weight management.