Being obese is already a health risk. It gets compounded when a woman is with child. Obesity and pregnancy is not a good combination at all, yet as many as 10% of women in the United States who are expecting are either overweight or obese. This is a serious condition that needs to be dealt with because it increases the risk of a pregnant woman from developing gestational diabetes and pregnancy-induced hypertension. These two conditions are potentially life-threatening for both the woman and child if left uncontrolled since high blood pressure ultimately leads to cardiac arrest and death.
Pregnancy is a stressful time for most women who turn to food for comfort. However, the system of a pregnant woman is already “stressed” to meet the increasing demands of having new life grow inside her. Circulation and metabolism are increased and being overweight strains an already overworked system.
Doctors warn against obesity and pregnancy for many reasons. First, fetal heart tones are more difficult to hear during check ups in a woman with too much fat. Determining the position of the fetus is also hard. Thus, monitoring the health of the fetus during prenatal check ups becomes especially challenging. Studies have also shown that obese woman have prolonged pregnancies, leading to postmature infants who are also at risk for health problems. They also have excessively big babies, making caesarian delivery necessary. Unfortunately, obese women have too much adipose tissue that needs to be cut before the fetus is reached, making an otherwise routine caesarian operation risky.
Clearly, an obese woman faces multiple problems if and when she gets pregnant (obese women find it harder to conceive in the first place). The problem is, dieting to bring down the pounds is not recommended during pregnancy since this could possibly deprive the fetus of the necessary nutrients it needs to thrive. Those who are expecting must always keep their calorie levels between 1500 to 1800 calories everyday to provide herself and her fetus the nutrients needed for optimum health.
However, there are steps that an obese woman can take to still ensure a pregnancy with a reduced risk of complications. While she cannot go on a full dieting regimen for those reasons mentioned above, she can reduce her intake of empty calories such as those found in chips and soda and replace these with nutritious foods like fruits and vegetables. Snacking on carrot sticks is infinitely far healthier and more beneficial for the fetus than cakes and ice cream. If there is any other time that an obese woman needs to practice self-control, it is during these nine months that she is carrying new life with her.
Obese women may find exercise more challenging but they must engage in some form of low-impact physical activity at least once a day. This keeps them fit and prepared for pregnancy.
With all the complications associated with obesity and pregnancy, it is clear that any overweight woman who seeks to have a baby should keep the weight down first before proceeding with the pregnancy. Having a healthy weight through a healthy diet and regular exercise will not only make it easier for her to conceive, but will ultimately allow her to enjoy her pregnancy.