I Am Pregnant And Overweight. How Does It Affect My Baby?

7 min read

Written by Pradeep


Pregnant And Overweight

It is quite likely that being pregnant and overweight will not have any effect on your baby. However, being overweight, even when you are not pregnant, puts you at risk of several health problems. Irrespective of the fact that you can still have a safe pregnancy and a healthy baby, being overweight does put you at a higher risk for various complications not only during pregnancy but also during labor, birth, and the postpartum period. Be aware that, potential pregnancy and childbirth complications can happen in any pregnancy.

Not only will your practitioner find it difficult to determine the size and position of the child when you are pregnant and overweight, but also it will also likely make it harder for you to feel those first kicks. find out what is the recommended weight gain during pregnancy and how to lead a safe pregnancy when you are obese.

In This Article

How Much Is The Recommended Weight Gain During Pregnancy?

How much weight should be gained during pregnancy is depends upon your BMI when you get pregnant.
BMI (Body Mass Index) determines to which category of weight (healthy normal weight, overweight or obesity) you belong. The BMI is based on your weight and height. You can find your weight category easily with a BMI calculator.

  1. When the BMI is 18.5 to 24.9, the woman falls under the ‘normal’ weight category
  2. When the BMI is 25 to 29.9, the woman falls under the ‘overweight’ category
  3. Once the BMI is over 30, the woman falls under the ‘obese’ category
  4. When the BMI is over 40, the woman falls under the ‘extremely obese’ category

Recommended Weight Gain For Each Category 

Please note that these are the recommended weight gain for a single pregnancy. The reading will change if you are having multiple pregnancies.

  1. Normal weight women can gain 12 kg to 16 kg during pregnancy
  2. Overweight women can gain 7 kg to 12 kg during pregnancy
  3. Obese women can gain 5kg to 9 kg during pregnancy
  4. Extreme obese women should gain only below 5 kg during pregnancy

Which Pregnancy Complications Are Associated With Being Overweight?

Pregnancy Complications

The complications that affect mother and child when the mother is overweight are:

1. Infections

Obese women are found to be at increased risk of infections such as urinary tract infections and post-partum infections (irrespective of whether the delivery is through a C-section or has undergone a vaginal birth). Endometritis is also a possibility.

2. Less Likely to Have VBAC

Obese women are likely to have a lower success rate when it comes to vaginal birth after a C- section.

3. Risky Cesarean

Cesarean is found to be riskier for an overweight woman. An overweight woman, who undergoes a cesarean has elevated possibilities of anesthesia problems, wound problems, infections, and severe bleeding than a normal-weight woman.

4. Obstructive Sleep Apnea

OSA is a sleeping disorder that occurs when breathing stops suddenly during the time of sleeping. The chances of OSA are increased with obesity. OSA is associated with reduced fetal growth in later pregnancy.

5. Gestational Diabetes

gestational diabetes Gestational diabetes is the raised blood sugar levels that develop during the pregnancy period. It has a short-term or long-term effect not only on your health but also on your baby’s. The possibilities of gestational diabetes are more among heavier women

6. Venous Thromboembolism

Pregnancy makes the blood more likely to clot. This is the body’s mechanism to prevent heavy loss of blood during delivery. Venous thromboembolism is a dangerous condition in which a blood clot is formed inside the blood vessel and gets break off and travel through the bloodstream and got stuck to organs like the lungs, brain, and heart which can cause a heart attack or stroke.

Obese women possess more risk to develop venous thromboembolism. Read more about blood clots during pregnancy here.

7. Pre-eclampsia

Pre-eclampsia is a pregnancy complication that occurs after 20 weeks of pregnancy. The woman otherwise has normal blood pressure, develops high blood pressure, kidney problems leading to proteinuria (too much protein in her urine), and fluid retention causing swelling of the face, hands, and feet. The chances of pre-eclampsia are increased considerably with an increase in the weight of a pregnant woman. Having a small baby is sometimes associated with this situation.

8. Overdue Pregnancy

overdue pregnancy

The chances of continuation of pregnancy beyond the expected due date is increased with the women who are overweight

9. Labor Complications

Some of the labor problems associated with women who are obese are:

  • Induction of Labor
  • Long labor
  • Higher chances of requiring birth interventions like episiotomy assisted birth or a complicated c-section birth etc.
  • Shoulder dystocia,  which is a condition where the shoulder of the baby can’t pass through the birth canal after the head has already come out.

10. Macrosomia

Macrosomia is a condition when the birth weight of a newborn is much more than the average birth weight of babies. Some of the causes of this condition tally with the complications that arise due to being overweight during pregnancy such as Gestational diabetes and going past the due date. A child born big has a risk of future heart diseases and obesity

Miscarriage and stillbirths are common among women who are overweight. However, there is still a very good chance that you will have a normal and healthy pregnancy without any complications bothering you.

Can I Diet To Lose Weight During Pregnancy?

Can I Diet To Lose Weight During Pregnancy_

Pregnancy is absolutely the wrong time to follow a weight loss diet. The more chances are that dieting can harm your baby. This is because sometimes diet can leave you low on vital nutrients which may affect fetal development and can put additional demands on your body.

It is not wise to try to lose weight or try to maintain the same weight throughout pregnancy.

How To Lead A Healthy Pregnancy When I Am Over Weight?

If you choose a healthy lifestyle and take some precautionary measures you can lead a healthy pregnancy even if you are overweight. In most cases during the first trimester of pregnancy, nausea and vomiting will diminish your appetite which causes you to lose some calories.

Some of the measures that can be taken to lessen the impact of obesity during pregnancy are:

1. Eating a Healthy Diet

Eating wisely will help you to lose weight without depriving the baby of her most needed calories as you have extra reserves of calories in stored fats. Seek the help of a nutritionist to plan your pregnancy meals. Choosing low GI food (food that takes longer for your body to digest) as glucose is released more slowly to the bloodstream and drinking plenty of water is also recommended

2. Frequent Prenatal Visits

prenatal visits

For an overweight woman, a more frequent prenatal visit is required to monitor the baby’s growth and the mother’s health. Extra tests and extra scans are required for an overweight woman. Ensure that you are regular and do not miss them

3. Exercising Regularly

If you are not on regular exercises prior to pregnancy, never attempt vigorous exercise once you are pregnant. Exercising moderately (a brisk walk) for thirty minutes a day is enough to lessen the impact of obesity and diminish the chances of giving birth to a large baby.

                                    Read: [Exercise During Pregnancy For a Normal And Natural Delivery]

4. Supplements

The quantity of the Intake of vitamin supplements, folic acid may be increased a bit when you are overweight. Obviously, this is decided by your practitioner

5. Weight gain guidelines

Strictly follow the weight gain guidelines with the help of your doctor

What Can I Do For A Healthy Labor And Delivery When I Am Overweight?

pregnant woman swimming

Being overweight increases the chances of long labor. Weight also affects the efficiency of contractions. This results in prolonged labor. To minimize the problems during labor you should:

  • Exercise regularly to make your body ready for birth. Swimming helps to keep your body fit without causing pain and aches as a result of being overweight.
  • Attend antenatal class. There you will get an explanation of how to position yourself during labor to quicker the labor and minimize the pain
  • Consider having a Doula (trained and experienced professional who provides constant physical, emotional, and informative support to the mother prior to, during, and just after birth) to attend your baby’s birth. A doula can help you to stay mobile during labor, provides you with breathing and relaxation techniques, select comfortable positions to minimize the pain

Don’t worry too much thinking of your plus size during pregnancy. Many overweight women find it difficult to get pregnant. Now that you have passed that bridge, a little care can assure you a happy pregnancy and a healthy baby.


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