The pregnancy of obese women has to be more controlled because being overweight increases the risk of developing complications in pregnancy, such as hypertension and diabetes in the mother, as well as malformations in the baby, such as heart defects.
Although, during pregnancy, it is not advisable to go on weight loss diets, it is essential to control the quality of food and calorie intake so that the baby has all the nutrients necessary for its development, without the pregnant woman increasing too much weight.
If the woman is very overweight, it is important that she lose weight before becoming pregnant to reach an acceptable body mass index and thus reduce the risks associated with being overweight during pregnancy. Nutritional monitoring before and during pregnancy, in these cases, is essential. Losing weight before becoming pregnant will also help a woman feel her baby when she is pregnant, as excess fat makes it difficult for an obese woman to feel her baby moving.
How many pounds can a pregnant woman already overweight gain during pregnancy?
The weight that a woman should gain during pregnancy depends on the woman’s weight before becoming pregnant, which is evaluated through the body mass index, which relates weight to height. So, if your body mass index before pregnancy was:
- Less than 19.8 (underweight) – weight gain during pregnancy should be between 13 to 18 pounds.
- Between 19.8 and 26.0 (adequate weight) – weight gain during pregnancy should be between 12 to 16 pounds.
- Greater than 26.0 (overweight) – weight gain during pregnancy should be between 6 to 11 pounds.
In some cases, obese women may not gain weight or gain very little weight during pregnancy because as the baby grows and the pregnancy progresses, the mother can lose weight by eating healthier and, as the weight the baby gains compensates for what the mother loses, the weight on the scale does not change.
Risks of pregnancy in obese women
The risks of pregnancy in obese women involve problems for the health of the baby and the mother.
An obese pregnant woman has a higher risk of developing high blood pressure, eclampsia and gestational diabetes, but the baby can also suffer from the mother’s excess weight. Miscarriage and the development of malformations in the baby, such as a heart defect or spina bifida, are more common in obese women, in addition to a greater risk of having a premature baby.
The postpartum period for obese women is also more complicated, with a greater risk of healing difficulties, so losing weight before becoming pregnant can be an excellent way to have a complication-free pregnancy.
Food for the obese pregnant woman
The diet of the obese pregnant woman has to be balanced and varied, but the amounts have to be calculated by the nutritionist so that the pregnant woman has all the nutrients necessary for the baby’s development. In addition, it may be necessary to prescribe supplements according to the pregnant woman’s body weight.
It is essential not to eat fatty foods, such as fried foods or sausages, sweets and soft drinks.
To learn more about what to eat during pregnancy see: Food in pregnancy.
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