How Can You Avoid Maternal Obesity?

Pregnant women are encouraged to eat more than their usual share, that is why they are excused from indulging food cravings and overeating. But these can have consequences on both the mother’s and the baby’s health because obesity increases the risk of pregnancy problems and childbirth complications.

What can you do to avoid gaining too much weight when you’re pregnant?

Complications of Maternal Obesity
Despite the trend of downplaying the effects of obesity among expectant mothers, there is a greater risk of suffering from complications throughout the pregnancy and even during childbirth. Some of the complications include gestational diabetes, overdue pregnancy, infections, preeclampsia, problems during labor and the use of pain medications, C-section complications, and miscarriage. Even if there are no complications during pregnancy and childbirth, the baby will still be at risk of obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases.

Overweight and Obese
A person is considered overweight if she has more body fat than she is supposed to have for her height. There is a chart called body mass index which uses a person’s height and weight to determine if she has excess body fat. Overweight and obese are two different categories although some people confuse the two terms all the time. A woman is considered overweight if the body mass index is between 25 to 29, but she is obese if her BMI is 30 and higher. Although there are some contentions to the use of BMI to detect obesity, because some athletes and weightlifters can be classified obese, it is still the most reliable measurement tool.

Your Weight Affects the Baby
Studies show that a person’s birth weight will also affect the body mass index later in life, because as a fetus, the body will try to adapt itself to the supply of nutrients by changing the metabolism and physiology. This is called fetal programming, and it affects the person even into adulthood; that is why it is common for overweight or obese parents to also have overweight or obese children.

Getting Pregnant When Overweight
It does not mean overweight women are discouraged to have children, but they need to be aware of the risks involved in the process and to be prepared to address the issue. A pregnant woman must be given advice on diet and exercise for weight control. You are not required to lose weight suddenly, but there is a guideline to how much weight you’re supposed to maintain during your pregnancy. The focus instead is on not gaining extra weight and to avoid the complications listed above.

Care During Pregnancy
Obese women can still have healthy pregnancies through careful monitoring and guidance from a team of doctors. To monitor your health, you will need occasional testing for gestational diabetes, fetal ultrasound, fetal echocardiography, and a diet program from a dietitian. Regular prenatal care is a must, along with a healthy diet, safe workout routine, and a prescribed list of medications and supplements recommended by doctors.