Obesity during pregnancy opens up women to multiple risks, and can adversely affect the health of their baby, as well. Read on to know more, writes Dr Tanvi Tuteja-Mansukhani, consultant obgyn, Somaiya Superspeciality Hospital and assistant professor, K. J. Somaiya Medical College & Hospital
Maternal obesity has become one of the most commonly occurring risk factors in obstetric practice. Obesity in pregnancy is usually defined as a body mass index (BMI) of 30 kg/m 2 or more at the first antenatal consultation. In total, 50 per cent of women of childbearing age are either overweight (BMI 25 to 29.9 kg/m2) or obese, with 18 per cent starting pregnancy as obese. Currently, 20 to 40 per cent of women gain more than the recommended weight during pregnancy, resulting in an increased risk of maternal and fetal complications. 18 per cent of obstetric causes of maternal deaths and 80 per cent of anesthesia complications are due to obesity, making this a cause for concern.
Effects of obesity on expectant mums:
● Women can experience high blood pressure and preeclampsia caused by being overweight.
● Obesity can result in gestational diabetes (raised blood sugars), and is said to increase the risk of type 2 diabetes and mellitus later on in life.
● Expectant mums also face problems like prolonged labour, C-section and problems with administering epidurals during a C-section.
● The after effects of pregnancy problems are, post partum hemorrhage (losing too much blood), or blood clots (deep vein thrombosis) and wound problems.
Effects of obesity on baby
● Obesity during one’s pregnancy can cause birth defects such as heart defects and neural tube defects such as spina bifida.
● During delivery, babies that weigh more than 9 pounds 15 ounces, may also increase the risk of injury.
● Being overweight during pregnancy may lead to problems such as a premature baby, miscarriage and stillbirth.
● The baby may have health problems later in life such as diabetes, heart disease, and obesity.
A balanced diet along with light exercise and maintaining a food diary is the key to a healthy pregnancy weight.
Naturally, this means consulting your doctor and nutritionist. Moreover, physical activity can help stave off excess weight gain, but talking to your doctor before you begin an exercise programme is vital. They can help you come up with a routine and answer any questions you may have. Your doctor can also refer you to a dietitian or trainer for assessment and personalised advice on healthy eating and exercise during pregnancy.
HERE’S HOW TO KEEP YOUR WEIGHT IN CHECK
Understand your caloric needs:
Your pregnancy is not the time to experiment or try out a new diet fad. These diets are often very calorie-restrictive and won’t provide your baby with the nutrients she need to stay healthy. In fact, diet fads can be extremely dangerous for your baby if they cause you to lose weight too quickly, or if they only allow you to eat a very small range of foods. Your baby needs a lot of different vitamins, and minerals, but more importantly, a healthy dose of every food group. You cannot get them on a restrictive diet. This is why when adopting a healthy pregnancy meal plan, it’s better to look at it as an overall lifestyle change, not a diet. Remember, expectant mums must ditch diet fads, avoid empty calories and unhealthy foods, eat frequent small meals, always eat healthy snacks and drink plenty of water.
Treat pregnancy as an opportunity:
Pregnancy can be a great time to start an exercise programme and adopt healthy eating habits. Pregnant women are more likely to visit their doctor on a regular basis and ask a lot of questions. They also tend to be highly motivated to change their lifestyle in order to keep their baby healthy.
You should start any new exercise programme slowly, and build up gradually over time. Begin with just five or 10 minutes of exercise each day. Add five more minutes the next week. Your ultimate goal is to stay active for roughly 30 to 45 minutes each day. Walking and swimming are both excellent choices for people new to exercise. They’re both gentle on the joints.
Take your vitamins:
While a healthy, balanced diet contains most of the necessary vitamins and minerals for you and your baby, taking a prenatal supplement can help fill in any gaps. Prenatal vitamins differ from an adult multivitamin. They contain more folic acid to prevent neural tube defects and more iron to help prevent anemia.
In the end…
If you’re obese, you can still have a healthy pregnancy. Try to stay active and eat healthy foods. Providing your baby with the vitamins and nutrients she needs is more important than the number on the scale. If you can’t lose weight, don’t fret. Just keep up with your healthy eating habits and moderate exercise, and try to limit weight gain.
Once you bring your baby home, there’s really no need for you to not continue your healthy living. After all, being fit is a lifestyle change, and once you’re on the track to staying healthy, these healthy eating habits and staying active only mean you’ll have more energy to keep up with your growing child. MB