Obese mothers have a higher risk of miscarriage, preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, cesarean deliveries, complications during childbirth, and difficulty with breastfeeding. Their babies are at increased risk of being born with neural tube defects and a high birthweight, and they are more likely to be overweight later in life.
That said, if you are obese there are steps you can take to boost your chances of having a healthy baby:
- Eat well. This isn't the time to diet, but it's a perfect time to cut down on sugary desserts, fried foods, salty snacks, and fast food. Consider meeting with a registered dietitian (RD); many health insurance plans cover RD bills. A dietitian can help you design a healthy diet that is not too high or too low in calories.
- Exercise. Even a short walk every day can make a difference. Start by walking a few minutes a day, gradually lengthening your walks. Focus on time, not speed. If you don't like walking, try swimming, riding a stationary bike or recumbent bike, or exercising with a workout video designed for obese people.
- Talk with your doctor about weight gain during pregnancy. The standard recommendation for obese women is to gain 15 to 25 pounds, but your doctor may give you different advice. Take your prenatal vitamins daily. Because your baby has an increased risk of neural tube defects, it's essential that you take your folic acid without fail.
Originally published in You & Your Baby: Pregnancy.
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