Obesity and Pregnancy
Have you ever leisurely walked down an isle at Target and noticed a pregnant women waddling from side to side and thought to yourself man she is fat? Well she really is. Obesity is a medical condition in which excess body fat has accumulated to the extent that it may have an adverse effect on health, leading to reduced life expectancy and increased health problems. Maternal obesity is a major risk factor in short term for both maternal and fetal complications, including maternal and fetal mortality, miscarriages, gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM), pregnancy-induced hypertensive disorders, marcrosomia and caesarean sections. A baby could be affected by these tragic events up until the age of 18. This rise of the obesity rate has a devastating impact on implications for the nation’s health care system and the population’s future quality of life. The normal weight for women is (BMI 19.8– 25.9), (BMI 26– 29) for overweight women and a BMI over 30 is considered obese. BMI is known as Body Mass Index, which is a number calculated based on weight and height.
Pregnant women gain excess weight due to the lack of exercise. The majority of women do not know that they can continue exercising at least three times per week during pregnancy. Women should be more informed about everything they should and should not do during their pregnancy. The most common type of exercise for pregnant women is walking. Gardening, aerobics, and usage of exercise machines are also means of exercising. Exercise also has many other beneficial health effects such as reduced incidence of type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and certain cancers as well as improved quality of life and emotional status1. If you conceived the child then why not exercise instead of a chance at miscarrying it?
A pregnant woman’s diet is an essential part of her pregnancy. 9 times out of 10, a pregnant woman constantly hears from her peers that she needs to eat more since she is eating for two. We forget the fact that she could potentially become obese. From a doctor’s standpoint, he should take the initiative to urge the mother not to go overboard with eating. Both mother and baby need a balanced diet full of varied fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, unsaturated plant-based fats, fiber and calcium. Refined grains, most processed foods and foods high in sugar and saturated fats should be avoided. The development of the baby's organs and bones depend on obtaining sufficient nutrients from the mother. Despite the fact that pregnant women do not need to become obese they also do not need to diet during pregnancy. Maternal obesity is associated with an overall higher rate of labor induction, which requires higher oxytocin and prostaglandin doses than for women of normal BMI. Oxytocin is responsible for stimulation of milk ejection (milk letdown) and for stimulation of uterine smooth muscle contraction at birth. Prostaglandins are important mediators of uterine activity. It is very common for an obese woman to have a cesarean section instead of a natural pregnancy. Obese women are two to three times more likely to have an emergency cesarean due to factors such as a large baby or failure to progress. Why would you want to go through the agony of getting cut open like a dissected pig when it isn’t necessary? Maternal overweight and diabetes (gestational and type 2) has repeatedly been associated with a number of delivery complications, which includes prolonged birth, birth asphyxia, shoulder dystocia, injuries to the baby and the mother, increased use of instrumental vaginal deliveries and cesarean sections, and postpartum hemorrhaging2. Some long-term effects are also associated with obesity in pregnancy such as an increased risk of having diabetes and cardiovascular disease later in life. During pregnancy, serum markers of inflammation are raised in overweight and obese women when compared with their normal BMI counterparts2. Other problems during pregnancy...
References: 1. Siega-Riz A, Evenson K, Dole N. Pregnancy-related Weight Gain-A Link to Obesity?. 2008 Apr 24:S105-S111.In:Wiley Online Library [database on the Internet]. [cited 2012 Sept 16]. Available from: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1753-4887.2004.tb00079.x/abstract
2. Dennedy M, Dunne F, editors. Maternal Obesity and Pregnancy [Internet]. Springer Berlin Heidelberg; 2012 [cited 2012 Sept 16]. Available from: http://www.springerlink.com.libproxy.lib.unc.edu/content/h3gp77g021457535/
3. Henriksen, T. Nutrition and Pregnancy Outcome. 2006 May:S19-S23. In:Wiley Online Library [database on the Internet]. [cited 2012 Sept 16]. Available from:
4. Melzer K, Schutz Y. Pre-pregnancy and pregnancy predictors of obesity. International Journal of Obesity [Internet] 2010;34:S44-S52. Available from:
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