Being Pregnant While Obese: More and more obese and morbidly obese women are becoming pregnant lately. But this increase in numbers is not good for the mothers and the babies involved. With more fertility options available in this day and age, women who otherwise can’t conceive are able to become pregnant and are given the chance to have a family. But there are so many risks associated with pregnancy while being overweight. Anyone who is attempting to have kids should be made aware of them.
For most obese people, problems started in childhood. Childhood obesity is running rampant, and is extremely hard to get out of later in life.
If you have a BMI of over 30, then you are considered obese. For a 5’ 6” woman, this would mean that she weighs more than 186 lbs.
If your BMI is over 40 then you are considered morbidly obese and are at even higher risk for complications. In this case, a 5’ 6” woman would weigh over 245 lbs, pre-pregnancy. Calculate your BMI so that you are aware of where you are before becoming pregnant!
Here are some of the risks involved with being pregnant while obese:
- Obese women have much higher rates of having c-sections. If they are able to have a natural birth, labor is longer and usually requires far more medical intervention. According to a 2012 study of obese pregnant women in Utah, you are twice as likely to need a c-section if you are obese. Among the morbidly obese, 50% needed c-sections. This is very dangerous, as obese people are more likely to have negative side effects from any surgery. Wound infections and massive blood loss are just a few of the problems more prevalent among heavier patients.
- The chances of stillborn babies and miscarriages are much higher with obese women. In some cases infant death rates are 2 times higher when being born to an obese mother.
- Gestational diabetes (explained below) and type 2 diabetes are much more common among the morbidly obese. This is linked to high birth weight babies. This boosts the need for c-sections since larger babies are harder to push out naturally.
- Doctors are unable to monitor the pregnancy as closely. Many very obese women are considered high risk, and must have more frequent doctor visits. It is more difficult to correctly read ultrasounds, and to see if the baby has any abnormalities. The ultrasound machine must be able to read through so many extra layers of fatty tissue.
Just get into shape!
The bottom line is that obese women need to make life changes BEFORE they are pregnant. Once pregnant, it is harder and more dangerous for them to begin losing weight. Low calorie diets are no longer an option. If you are obese and trying to conceive, first begin a weight loss regimen. Purchase some home exercise equipment or get a gym membership and work off those extra pounds. Eat only healthy foods in preparation. The health of your baby and yourself can be greatly improved. Just get into shape before the pregnancy begins!
Getting to Know Gestational Diabetes
Even if you do not have any of the risk factors, every pregnant woman is given a test after the 24th week of pregnancy to determine whether or not they are being affected. If you are pregnant but you haven’t yet taken your glucose tolerance test, here are some symptoms to watch for. If you experience any of the symptoms, talk to your doctor about it right away so that you can begin to eat the way that you need to in order to provide the best care for yourself and your baby.
- Fatigue: Being tired while pregnant is a pretty normal symptom, but if you are even more tired than you would expect, there may be something else wrong.
- Increased Thirst: Again, all pregnant women should be experiencing an increased thirst, but if you notice a sudden increase, and are unable to quench your thirst, talk to your healthcare provider. An increased thirst will also lead to increased urination, which is another symptom.
- Nausea and Vomiting: While these symptoms are very common during the first trimester, when the majority of women experience morning sickness, they are usually cleared up by the second and third trimesters. If your nausea and vomiting carry on past week 18 or so, you should definitely get it checked out.
- Weight Loss: During the 1st trimester a little weight loss is perfectly normal, but by the time your second trimester rolls around, you should begin gaining weight. If you aren’t gaining by this point, then it is imperative that you let your doctor know. Some women feel flattered if they don’t gain weight during pregnancy, but it is very unhealthy, and can have horrible side effects for both you and the baby.
Treatment for gestational diabetes usually requires meeting with a nutritionist to make sure that you can adapt your diet in order to keep yourself and the baby as healthy as possible. Scheduled exercise times will also help your body to get through this time. Though running during pregnancy isn’t a good solution for everyone, you can still exercise by walking or doing some other low-impact activity! If you choose not to treat your diabetes, you will be at very high risk for having a c-section, because babies born to mothers with gestational diabetes are in general a lot heavier at birth, making natural delivery impossible in some cases.
Luckily, the majority of the time, as soon as the baby is born, you will not suffer any other side effects of the gestational diabetes and you can resume your normal eating and exercise habits. Since gestational diabetes is a very temporary condition, usually only affecting women for about 5 months or so, just be glad that you don’t have type 1 or type 2 diabetes, and take care of yourself so that they never develop!