Knowing the Risks of Obesity and Pregnancy

Dr. Kecia Gaither

Gaining weight during pregnancy is anticipated and necessary for a healthy mother and baby. However, for obese women, starting a pregnancy can present a wide range of complications and possible health challenges for them and their babies.

June, 2017 – One-third of Americans today are classified as obese, and another one-third considered overweight. And according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly one-quarter of women giving birth are obese (for example, 175+ pounds for a 5-foot-4 woman) before becoming pregnant. Gaining weight during pregnancy is anticipated and necessary for a healthy mother and baby. However, according to double board-certified OB/GYN and Maternal Fetal Medicine Physician Dr. Kecia Gaither, “for obese women – defined as a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or higher – starting a pregnancy can present a wide range of complications and possible health challenges for them and their babies.”

Dr. Gaither adds that “beginning a pregnancy already obese makes it harder to lose weight after the baby is born, and commences the nine-month term with well-defined health disadvantages to both the mother and baby.    

Knowing the Potential Complications

“The list is long of potential health complications for an obese pregnant woman and her baby,” notes Dr. Gaither. Following are six common concerns for obese pregnant women and their physicians:

1. Preeclampsia: This occurs when a pregnant woman develops high blood pressure, often in the 2nd or 3rd trimester of their pregnancy. Preeclampsia takes place at a higher rate in obese women and frequently requires premature delivery, placing the baby at risk.

2. Gestational diabetes: This occurs when a woman without diabetes develops high blood sugar levels during her pregnancy and it happens more frequently in obese pregnant women. This can lead to the baby growing larger than normal and increasing the risks of a stillbirth.

3. C-sections: Otherwise known as surgical births, both emergency and elective, are more common in obese women. Complications from a C-section can include wound related infections, excess blood loss and blood clots.

4. UTI Infection: Obese pregnant women suffer more urinary…

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