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Obesity & Pregnancy

Obesity is classified as having a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 30 or greater.

What is obesity?

Obesity is a chronic disease that is associated with having an excess amount of body fat (via genetic and environmental factors) that is difficult to control, even when dieting. It is classified as having a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 30 or higher.

BMI is measured by dividing a person’s weight in kilograms by his/her height in meters squared. Once you know your measurement, you will want to find your weight classification that is accompanied on the BMI chart or calculator.

Does obesity during pregnancy put my baby or me at risk for additional health problems?

Yes, it can put you at risk for several serious health problems, including:

  • Preeclampsia, which is a high blood pressure disorder that can occur during or after pregnancy. It is a severe illness that can cause kidney and liver failure. Preeclampsia can lead to seizures (eclampsia) and in rare cases, stroke.
  • Gestational diabetes, which is diabetes that is first diagnosed during pregnancy. This condition can increase the risk of having a C-section delivery.
  • Sleep apnea, which is a condition in which a person stops breathing for brief periods during sleep. During pregnancy, sleep apnea will cause fatigue and increase the risk of high blood pressure, preeclampsia, eclampsia, and lung and heart disorders.

Obesity can also increase the risk of the following issues during pregnancy:

  • Congenital anomalies (i.e., heart defects or neural defects)
  • Miscarriage
  • Premature birth
  • Stillbirth (a death in the womb after 20 weeks of pregnancy)
  • Macrosomia (a condition in which the baby is larger than normal)
  • Problems with diagnostic tests (having too much body fat can make it difficult to see specific issues with the baby’s anatomy on an ultrasound exam)

What are the long-term health risks?

There are more than 40 medical conditions that are associated with obesity. Individuals are at risk of developing one or more of these severe medical conditions:

  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Diabetes
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Gallbladder disease
  • Sleep apnea and respiratory problems
  • Certain Cancers

Obesity commonly involves a higher risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD), diabetes, high blood pressure (hypertension), and high cholesterol. Together, these four complications are known as metabolic syndrome. However, not everyone with a high BMI has these complications, and not everyone has all four of them.

Now for the good news. Obesity is an absolutely manageable condition. Under the watchful guidance of a medical professional, you can take steps to ensure your health and that of your baby.

Can I have a healthy pregnancy if I am overweight or obese?

Yes! Despite the risks, you can have a healthy pregnancy if you are obese. It takes careful management of your weight and attention to diet and exercise. Dr. Heather Stanley-Christian can provide you with lifestyle guidance and ensure that you have the healthiest pregnancy possible for you and your baby. As a board certified OB/GYN, Maternal-Fetal Medicine specialist, and Clinical Geneticist, she will provide you with prenatal care to monitor for complications and advocate for special considerations for your labor and delivery.

Request an appointment in Winter Garden, Florida

If you are pregnant or thinking of getting pregnant and you are obese, schedule an appointment with Dr. Stanley-Christian. She will help you lose weight safely before and during your pregnancy, and ensure that you and your baby have the safest possible experience. Call (352) 404-5544 or fill out the form below to request your consultation online.