Pregnancy and Obesity: Understanding The Risks

Pregnant and scaleIf you are considered obese or severely obese that does not mean that you cannot get pregnant or that you should not get pregnant. However, before you decide to get pregnant you should understand that there are risks involved for both you and your baby.

Here are the risks that you will face if you are considered obese during your pregnancy.

*Labor Issues – Many women who are obese often have to have their labor induced, which is quite a bit more painful than going into labor on your own. This also leads to the issue of the obesity getting in the way of pain medications that can be used to deal with labor pains, such as an epidural.

*Loss – Obese women have a higher risk of stillborns, as well as miscarriages.

*Cesareans – Both elective and emergency c-sections are more common in obese women. Not to mention that obese women who have had one c-section usually are not able to ever have a vaginal delivery. Complications from a c-section are also increased in women who are obese.

*Overdue – This is when your pregnancy lasts longer than expected. During the course of your pregnancy, a due date will be established and doctors often give you two weeks before and after the date as a normal pregnancy, but obese women tend to go beyond the due date and are more likely to need their labor induced.

*Thrombosis – This is when blood clots form inside of your blood vessels and obese women are at a higher risk of this happening during their pregnancy.

*Sleep Apnea – Most often obese women already suffer from sleep apnea, but during pregnancy the risk of developing obstructive sleep apnea is a lot higher. This problem is serious as breathing is constantly stopping and starting while you are sleeping and can affect how much oxygen you and the baby are getting. Pregnancy can also make this condition worse for anybody who already has it.

*Gestational Diabetes – While this is always a factor for pregnant women, obese women are at a higher risk.

*Preeclampsia – This starts about 20 weeks into pregnancy and obese women are at a higher risk. High blood pressure and protein in the urine are the first symptoms, but other problems can develop as the pregnancy continues.

*Infections – Whether it is a urinary tract infection or a postpartum infection, obese women are at a higher risk of developing them. Not to mention wounds, such as an incision from a c-section, can take longer to heal, which increases the chance of infection.

Here is a closer look at the risks to your unborn baby.

*Birth defects – Studies have been done that suggest women who are considered obese or severely obese have a higher risk of their baby being born with some type of birth defect. There is no specific type of defect that is more prevalent, but research has shown babies being born with heart problems, as well as brain and spine issues.

*Macrosomia – Research shows that women who are considered obese often give birth to babies who are bigger than normal, but also ones that have more body fat. Other research has been done that shows the heavier a baby is when they are born the greater the risk of developing childhood obesity.

*Chronic Health Conditions – Another increased risk that your baby is faced with is developing a chronic health condition later on in life. Heart disease and diabetes are probably the two most common chronic conditions they are at risk of developing.

If you are considered obese, you should be careful with how much weight you gain during pregnancy, as that can help lower your chances of complications. Your doctor is going to be your best advocate in determining how much weight you should gain, as well as watching your weight throughout your pregnancy.

Image Source: nih.gov

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