How can being OVERWEIGHT during pregnancy cause COMPLICATIONS and affect your BABY

Overweight during pregnancy

At least 17 per cent of the pregnant women in India are suffering from obesity and diabetes.  There is a very high risk that the disease gets transferred from the mother to the baby says a reputed gynaecologist in Gurgaon. But there is a fair chance that a mum-to-be can have a healthy pregnancy.

However, being overweight during pregnancy and having a higher body mass index (BMI), may result in pregnancy complications.

Doctors are not sure whether weight can really make a difference to how the pregnancy goes. This is because the picture is very complicated with so many factors influencing your health like – age, family history and lifestyle. However, increased BMI leads to higher risk of having complications during pregnancy.

Listed below are some of the most common complications associated with being obese or overweight during pregnancy:

  • gestational hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • gestational diabetes
  • preeclampsia
  • early labour

Having a BMI of 30 or above can mean that you are more likely to have:

  • an assisted birth
  • increased or heavy bleeding after birth(postpartum haemorrhage or PPH)
  • a caesarean section
  • a wound infection if you give birth by caesarean section
  • a blood clot in a deep vein in your leg (deep vein thrombosis or DVT) or in your lung (pulmonary embolism or PE)
  • increased time spent in hospital due to complications
  • If you are overweight or obese during your pregnancy, you are likely to have a large baby (macrosomia).

How can you have a healthy pregnancy?

Few simple steps can help you to protect your baby’s well being. Healthy eating, exercising regularly and sticking to the weight-gain guidelines are the best ways to reduce the chances of having a complicated pregnancy.

Healthy Eating

It is not recommended to diet during pregnancy to lose weight, it may harm the growth of the baby in the absence of sufficient nutrients. Nausea and vomiting in the early weeks can make it hard for you to enjoy a well-balanced diet. Make sure you drink plenty of water, and try to eat small but nutritious meals frequently.

Go for low GI foods, for which your body has to work harder to digest and convert to sugar. Make it a routine to have plenty of fruit and vegetables. Choose wholegrain and starchy food, such as wholemeal bread and whole wheat pasta over high-fat and high-sugar foods. Fiber and starch in the food will help you and your baby to get sufficient amount of nutrients.

Along with having a balanced diet, you need to take some important supplements. If your BMI is more than 30, you will need a daily supplement of 5 milligrams (mg) of folic acid. As this is higher than the usual dose of 400 micro grams (mcg) of folic acid, so you will have to get a prescription from your doctor. Continue taking folic acid for the first 12 weeks of your pregnancy. Having folic acid in your first trimester will help your baby’s nervous system to develop normally.

Your doctor will recommend that you take a daily supplement of 10mcg of vitamin D during pregnancy and after the birth of the baby, if you are breastfeeding. Vitamin D helps your baby to develop strong bones and teeth. Taking vitamin D is mainly important if your BMI is more than 30. That is because having BMI over 30 means you are will most likely have a deficiency of Vitamin D.

Exercising & Weight Management

Regular exercise during pregnancy is a very healthy way of helping your body to cope up with the pregnancy and it also prepares your body for birth.  Exercising clubbed with healthy diet is a great way of managing weight.

However, if you did not exercise prior to pregnancy, then you should not start with a vigorous exercise regime. Consult your doctor before starting an exercise routine.

To begin with, go with low-impact activities, such as brisk walking or swimming. Keep your workout sessions short initially and then increase them gradually. Always stay hydrated.