A Growing Problem
You might think a diagnosis of obesity is reserved only for extreme cases. But according to the most recent National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 3 of 10 women are clinically obese, meaning they have a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or above. BMI, which is a measure of your weight in comparison to your height, is the tool doctors use to identify obesity. Sadly, the percentage of women entering pregnancy obese parallels the national statistic.
But while most women are keyed in to the emotional and aesthetic aspects of being plus-size and pregnant, few really understand the medical reality of obesity. "You can be shapely and healthy, but it is not possible to be obese and healthy," says Laura Riley, MD, medical director of labor and delivery at Massachusetts General Hospital, in Boston. "We are talking about a medical disorder that has major implications for 1) your pregnancy, 2) your fetus, and 3) your life," she says.