Although most pregnancies proceed without complications, certain conditions can increase your risk of health problems. Obesity during pregnancy can threaten your health and the health of your unborn baby. Although losing weight prior to conception is best, proper prenatal care can help increase your chances of a healthy pregnancy and delivery, especially if you are obese.
Obesity During Pregnancy
According to the Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago, the number of obese women who are of childbearing age is climbing. Your body mass index estimates the amount of body fat you have. You fall in the range of obesity if your BMI measures more than 30. Overweight women face special health risks during pregnancy including gestational hypertension, preeclampsia, eclampsia and gestational diabetes. Maternal obesity may also affect your newborn’s risk of certain birth defects and premature birth.
Many obese mothers seek medical support from health care agencies during their pregnancies. Obesity during pregnancy is associated with longer stays in the hospital and an increase use of health care services. Obese women may use more outpatient medications and have more ultrasounds than other women do.
Health Care Programs
Some medical centers and hospitals offer support through programs that target obese pregnant women. One such program is through the Northwestern Comprehensive Center on Obesity in Chicago. A team of health professionals including a clinical psychologist, a dietitian, an exercise physiologist and a physician, work together to help develop strategies for healthier pregnancies.
Recommended Weight Gain
Weight gain recommendations during pregnancy vary, depending on your pre-pregnancy weight. The March of Dimes recommends that obese women should limit their weight gain to an amount between 11 and 20 lbs. Although gaining excess weight during pregnancy can increase your risk of health problems, pregnancy is not the time to start dieting. Your doctor can provide support and offer helpful guidelines on how much weight you should gain over the course of your pregnancy.
While most women don’t get nutritional counseling during pregnancy, a professional nutritional counselor can help you tailor a diet that manages your calories and supplies necessary nutrients. To help you create healthy eating habits, the USDA offers MyPyramid for Pregnancy and Breastfeeding, helpful guidelines that address diet during pregnancy.