Overweight and Pregnant

image001Weight problem is a major concern for 60% of women in the United States. Consider yourself overweight if your weight and height is not in direct proportion to each other. BMI or body mass index reflects this relationship as well as an estimate of body fat. A pre-pregnancy body mass index between 25 and 29.9 is overweight while a BMI of 30 and above is considered obese. This indicates that you are carrying more weight than your height can carry. Does being overweight while you are pregnant pose certain risks to your pregnancy? What can you do to deal with this condition?

What Should I Know If I Am Overweight and Pregnant?

1. What's the Normal Weight Gain During Pregnancy for Me?

A woman with a healthy BMI of around 18.5 to 24.9 can gain from up to 25 to 35 pounds during the entire pregnancy. Overweight women on the other hand, should gain around 15 to 25 pounds until the end of the pregnancy. That's approximately 2-3 pounds per month, mostly in the second and third trimesters. Obese women ideally should gain only 11 to 20 pounds for single pregnancy. However, for obese women expecting twins or more, a weight gain of 25 to 42 pounds is still ideal.

Note: A study published in the journal Obstetrics and Gynecology showed 50% women who gained more than what the ideal figures suggests developed gestational diabetes compared to those who maintained the ideal weight gain for pregnant women.

2. Is It Okay to Lose Weight During Pregnancy If I Am Overweight?

Weight loss in pregnancy is possible during the first trimester as the body adjusts to morning sickness and other bodily changes. But restricting food intake just to lose weight is a different story.

The developing baby needs all the necessary nutrients and calories in order to survive. And cutting off on the essential calories is hazardous.

Overweight and pregnant women have extra amounts of stored fats that are not very harmful to lose at first. But losing weight intentionally until the end of the pregnancy is definitely harmful to both the mother and the growing baby. In conclusion, it is ok if you lose certain weight while maintaining a healthy lifestyle, but you should not cut down calorie intake on purpose.

What to Do at Home If I Am Overweight and Pregnant?

1. Eat Healthy but Do Not Diet

For a healthy diet during pregnancy, there are three food groups to avoid: sweet, salty and fried foods. Trade sugary foods and soft drinks to fruits instead. Vegetables, whole grains and lean meat remain bland as elevated salt levels can also elevate blood pressure. Contrary to popular belief, eating for two is completely wrong. There's no need for extra calories for the first trimester and you only need 300 more calories for the second and third. That's equivalent to a yogurt and a banana. Watch a video for healthy diet during pregnancy:

2. Have Essential Nutrients

Keeping track of your food intake would be great to monitor your over-all nutrition as well as mood swings, even hunger levels. It's important to work hand in hand with a health care provider for professional assistance in maintaining a healthy pregnancy all through out. Vitamin supplements are also a must at this stage. Folic acid, calcium, iron and other essential nutrients are at the top of the list.

3. Get Active

Exercise is an important part of pregnancy, as the body takes in the baby; it needs strength to hold it all together. Starting low key is the most ideal and healthy way to start. Always ask some guidance from a professional health care provider before you start the regime. Cardio exercises such as swimming, running and simple aerobics can keep the heart healthily pumping. A 15-minute continuous exercise regime three times a week is all you need. Gradually increasing to 30 minutes each session. It strengthens not only the heart but the lung muscles as well, preparing you for the challenges of delivery. Watch a video for safe exercise during pregnancy:

4. Avoid Risky Substances

Any type of alcohol and illicit drugs should be out of reach. This wouldn't benefit any of you and your unborn child so quit while you still can.

Watch a video to learn of the experience of an overweight and pregnant woman and how she deals with all the problems like gestational diabetes:

What Should I Do During Hospital Visits?

1. Seek Regular Prenatal Care

Proper monitoring from qualified health care providers is a must for you and your baby's health. Openly discuss existing medical conditions with them particularly those that can be a potential threat to the pregnancy, and ways to manage them. Diabetes, high blood pressure, and sleep apnea are some examples.

2. Test for Gestational Diabetes

High risk women for gestational diabetes need to be checked every 24 and 28 weeks of pregnancy. Initial screening test usually occur at the first prenatal visit for obese pregnant women.

3. Conduct a Fetal Cardiograph

More commonly known as fetal ultrasound, this is usually done between the 20th and 22nd week of pregnancy to rule out or confirm possible birth defects.

Make Sure You Do Not Go Obese

The main concern is the potential risk and major impact of being obese has on your health and your baby's. The body mass index (BMI) helps to measure the amount of fat ideal for each person based on his or her height and weight. Check out the following table:

BMI

Weight Status

Below 18.5

Underweight

18.5 – 24.9

Normal

25 – 29.9

Overweight

30 and higher

Obese

40 and higher

Extreme obesity

Risks of Being Obese and Pregnant

Various complications arise in pregnancy due to obesity. Some of them are:

  • Gestational diabetes. Diabetes could be a preexisting condition for some obese women, and even more likely to obese pregnant women.
  • Preeclampsia. Protein in the urine within 20 weeks of pregnancy is an indicative sign of preeclampsia. This condition is usually characterized by increase blood pressure.
  • Infection. Urinary tract infection is common among pregnant obese women and postpartum infection is so risky whether the delivery is through vaginal or C-section.
  • Thrombosis. A blood clot inside the blood vessels of obese pregnant women is a serious life threatening complication.
  • Obstructive sleep apnea. Obese women may find their preexisting obstructive sleep apnea worsen during pregnancy.
  • Overdue pregnancy. Extending beyond the due date is a serious risk for pregnant overweight women.
  • Labor problems. Medically induced labor is common in obese women but certain pain medications may not be as effective due to obesity.
  • C-section. Obesity most often entails elective and C-sections, exposing potential risk post-partum.
  • Pregnancy loss. Miscarriages and stillbirths are greatly increased with obesity.