Ask Your Doctor: OBESITY AND PREGNANCY

anguillian
By anguillian May 15, 2017 09:55

 

 

 

The number of obese women becoming pregnant in Anguilla appears to be increasing, resulting in several challenges for healthcare providers. If you are obese or overweight during pregnancy you can decrease the chances of developing several complications if you adopt several lifestyle changes.

How do you know if you are obese?
Obesity is defined as having an excessive amount of body fat. You can use the BMI (body mass index) healthy weight calculator to work out if you are overweight or obese. BMI is a measurement of your weight to height. However, once you are pregnant, this measurement may not be accurate.
A BMI of 25 to 29.9 means you are overweight, and a BMI of 30 or above means you are very overweight, or obese.
Women are advised to achieve their ideal weight prior to getting pregnant so that they can decrease complications associated with obesity during pregnancy.
Does being obese during pregnancy increase the risk of any health problems?
Yes! Various studies have confirmed that several complications during pregnancy are increased if the woman is overweight or obese. These include the following:
• Gestational diabetes
• Pre-eclampsia
• Sleep apnoea
• Miscarriage
• Birth defects
• Macrosomia (baby is larger than normal)
• Preterm birth
• Stillbirth

The best way to decrease these complications is to lose weight before you become pregnant. Losing even a small amount of weight (5–7% of your current weight, or about 10–20 pounds) can improve your overall health and pave the way for a healthier pregnancy.
Can you have a healthy pregnancy if you are obese?
Despite the risks, an obese pregnant woman can have a healthy pregnancy. The woman needs to be under the care of an experienced obstetrician and should have regular prenatal check-ups. It takes careful management of your weight, attention to diet and exercise, regular prenatal care to monitor for complications, and special considerations for your labour and delivery.

Healthy eating during pregnancy
It is important to eat healthy during pregnancy whether you are obese or not. Maintaining a good weight during pregnancy is important to the pregnant woman and the fetus’s wellbeing. In the second and third trimesters, a pregnant woman needs an average of 300 extra calories a day. You can get help with planning a healthy diet by talking to a nutritionist/dietitian or your healthcare provider.

Exercise during pregnancy?
Regular exercise is important at all times, including during pregnancy. The pregnant woman should discuss with her obstetrician, on what exercises she can do during her pregnancy to make sure it is safe. Walking is a good choice if you are new to exercise. Swimming is another good exercise for pregnant women. The water supports your weight so you can avoid injury and muscle strain.
Regular prenatal check-ups
It is important that all overweight and obese pregnant women have regular prenatal visits. During these visits your weight would be measured and carefully monitored. The growth of the fetus would also be carefully monitored to ensure that there is a successful pregnancy.

Labour and delivery
Pregnant women who are overweight or obese tend to have more complications during labour and delivery and are more likely to have a caesarean section. If a caesarean delivery is needed, the risks of infection, bleeding, and other complications are greater for an obese woman than for a woman of normal weight.

Postpartum
Once the obese woman has delivered it is important to have regular exercise and eat healthy. Breastfeeding is recommended for the first year of a baby’s life. Not only is breastfeeding the best way to feed your baby – it also may help with postpartum weight loss.

Conclusion
The pregnant woman who is obese is at risk of several complications during pregnancy. Some of these can be reduced if the pregnant woman has regular prenatal visits so that her obstetrician can monitor her health and that of the developing fetus. Obese pregnant women are advised to eat a healthy diet, be physically active and follow the advice of their health care providers.

Ask Your Doctor is a health education column and is not a substitute for medical advice from your physician. The reader should consult his or her physician for specific information concerning specific medical conditions. While all reasonable efforts have been made to ensure that all information presented is accurate, as research and development in the medical field are ongoing, it is possible that new findings may supersede some data presented.

Dr Brett Hodge MB BS DGO MRCOG, is an Obstetrician/Gynaecologist and Family Doctor who has over thirty-two years in clinical practice. Dr Hodge has a medical practice in The Johnson Building in The Valley (Tel: 264 4975828).

anguillian
By anguillian May 15, 2017 09:55

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