How can obesity affect pregnancy?

Paula Greer
Midwifery Nursing Specialist

Obesity is a risk to mom for her overall health. When we are obese we are at greater risk for hypertension, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and stroke to name a few. If we are obese and pregnant we are more at risk for complications to the baby, birth defects, growth problems etc. We are also more susceptible to gestational diabetes and pregnancy induced hypertension. Obesity can lead to serious complications in labor if the baby is unable to descend properly into the pelvis. This will increase the risk of cesarean section for mom. Surgery and anesthesia also pose additional risks for our morbidly obese pregnant women. If you are overweight and want to become pregnant talk to your health care provider about losing weight first. This will actually even increase your fertility and likelihood of becoming pregnant. If you are already obese and pregnant talk to your provider about a healthy diet/weight gain for you and your baby to lessen the chance of complications during your pregnancy and delivery.

Dr. Ashley B. Briggs, MD
OBGYN (Obstetrician & Gynecologist)

Obesity creates surprising problems at every point during pregnancy—from conception to delivery. In this video, Dr. Ashley Briggs discusses what you can gain by losing a few pounds before pregnancy.

If you're obese during pregnancy you have a greater risk of having a stillborn, premature or overly large baby, or a baby with neural tube defects. Your baby also has a higher risk of being obese in childhood. Thus, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends that obese women planning to conceive get a preconception consultation, weight-loss counseling and continuing nutritional counseling and exercise programs after delivery.

A woman who is obese (a body mass index of 30 or higher) before pregnancy is at a higher risk for complications during pregnancy. Obesity in the woman also increases the risk of several serious birth defects for the baby. If you are overweight or obese, talk with your doctor about ways to reach a healthy weight before you get pregnant.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.