By Dr. Purnima , Gynaecology
Being overweight during pregnancy is a very common problem; more than 50% of pregnant women have a BMI (body mass index) greater than 25, a count that is attributed to being overweight. If you are one of them, know that it is the time you shed off those fatty baggages for both your and the baby’s health. Also, being overweight can reduce your chances of conceiving a baby.
Obesity increases the risk of the following problems during pregnancy-
- Pregnancy loss: Obese women have an increased risk of pregnancy loss (miscarriage) as compared to women of normal weight.
- Birth defects: Babies born to obese women have an increased risk of having birth defects, such as heart defects and neural tube defects.
- Problems with diagnostic tests: Having too much body fat can make it difficult to see certain problems with the baby’s anatomy on an ultrasound exam.
- Gestational Diabetes: Gestational diabetes is diabetes that is first diagnosed during pregnancy. This condition can increase the risk of having a cesarean delivery. Women who have had gestational diabetes also have a higher risk of having diabetes in the future, as do their children. Obese women are screened for gestational diabetes early in pregnancy and also may be screened later in pregnancy as well.
- Gestational Diabetes and IUGR: Intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR) is a well-known complication of pre-gestational diabetic patients due to vasculopathy and is also seen in gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) due to over-insulinisation. It’s a condition caused by changes in the mother’s vascular system and leads to a gestationally small baby.
- Macrosomia: In this condition, the baby is larger than normal. This can increase the risk of the baby being injured during birth.
- Preterm birth: Problems associated with a woman’s obesity, such as preeclampsia, may lead to a medically indicated preterm birth. This means that the baby is delivered early for a medical reason. Preterm babies are not as fully developed as babies who are born after 39 weeks of pregnancy. As a result, they have an increased risk of short-term and long-term health problems.
- Stillbirth: The higher the woman’s BMI, the greater the risk of stillbirth.
Here are tips to control your weight during pregnancy:
- Balanced Diet: Diet plays an important role in weight loss, so what you put on your plate should be monitored. Eat well-balanced and nutritious meals that provide nourishment to the body; they should be an ideal mix of carbohydrates, protein and fats. Include portions of fruits and vegetables for their Vitamin and mineral value.
- Limit Added Sugars: Limit added sugars and solid fats found in foods like soft drinks, desserts, fried foods, whole milk, and fatty meats.
- Know your Calorie Needs: In general, the first trimester (or first three months) does not require any extra calories. Typically, women need about 340 additional calories per day during the second trimester (second three months) and about 450 additional calories per day during the third (last) trimester.
- Exercise: Exercising during pregnancy is a very good idea, provided certain precautions are taken. It can help you trade with those extra pounds off, and keep you in good shape. Include simple aerobic exercises such as walking and swimming in your regimen. However, remember not to overstress your body while exercising.
Following a healthy lifestyle during your pregnancy is the key to the baby’s and your own wellbeing. It reduces the risks of various complications that may occur, up to a considerable extent.