Obesity & pregnancy
An obese pregnancy can increase your risk of complications, learn how obesity affects pregnancy and reduce your risk.
Not only can obesity affect your preconception fertility, but an obese pregnancy can increase the risk of nearly all pregnancy complications. These complications can occur during any stage of pregnancy, and can even have long lasting impacts on the health of a child in later life. Obese and overweight women planning a pregnancy are encouraged to lose weight to increase fertility and reduce their chances of pregnancy complications.
Can obesity prevent pregnancy?
Yes, obesity can impact preconception fertility in both females and males. In females, obesity can cause hormonal dysfunction affecting sex hormones such as oestrogen and androgen, and hormonal imbalances which can lead to such conditions as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), which in turn can lead to infertility. Obesity can also disrupt the menstrual cycle, particularly ovulation, as well as reducing the success rates of assisted reproduction technologies such as IVF. For males, obesity can similarly cause sex hormone dysfunction; cause erectile dysfunction; and lower both sperm quality and quantity.
How does obesity affect pregnancy?
In the general population obesity is responsible for a range of health conditions that significantly increase morbidity and mortality such as type II diabetes, cardiovascular disease and obstructive sleep apnoea. Expecting mothers who are obese are not only at risk of these conditions, but are also at the risk of a range of other complications.
Obese pregnancy and antenatal outcomes
Compared to normal weight pregnancies, an obese pregnancy increases metabolic dysfunction in expecting mothers, which can lead to gestational diabetes and pre-eclampsia. These conditions can significantly increase morbidity and mortality risks in pregnant women. In-utero fetal development is also affected through negative placental changes – placenta plays a vital role in fetal development by providing a growing baby with nutrients and oxygen and filtering their waste products. Obese pregnancy studies have also shown increased rates of congenital abnormalities and an increased risk of spontaneous miscarriage.
Obese pregnancy and intra/post-partum outcomes
Obese pregnancy is associated with increased rates of “large for gestational age” deliveries, failed labor, caesarean sections and perinatal death. These complications are worsened by the fact that obesity negatively impacts the effectiveness and safety of anaesthesia and increases surgical risks such as haemorrhages and infections. After delivery, obese pregancies have also been linked with breastfeeding problems, depression and weight retention after pregnancy in the mother.
Obese pregnancy and neonatal outcomes
The newborns of mothers who were obese during pregnancy are more likely to be admitted to neonatal intensive care units than mothers who were a normal weight. These newborns are also more likely to have macrosomia (a term that describes a baby who is born much larger than average for their gestational age), congenital malformations and metabolic disorders like greater insulin resistance (which has been associated with a higher risk of developing heart disease long-term). As such, these newborns have been linked to increased likelihood of obesity and metabolic disease in adolescence and adulthood, which again lead to chronic diseases that can shorten lifespan.
Get professional support with weight loss before pregnancy
If you have previously failed many weight loss attempts through diet and exercise, and your BMI remains at an unhealthy level, there is another option in that you may be eligible for weight-loss surgery with Newcastle Obesity Surgery.
To be eligible, you must:
- Have a BMI greater than 35 (BMIs lower than this may be considered if suffering from serious health problems related to obesity)
- Have demonstrated that you have failed previous weight loss attempts
- Be fit for surgery (this may be assessed by your surgeon, however other specialist assessments may be required in some circumstances)
- Not drink alcohol to excess, not have a drug addiction or serious uncontrolled psychiatric issues.
- Be willing to continue being monitored by the specialist team
In combination with the surgery, Newcastle Obesity Surgery Centre provides specialist obesity dietitians who will provide expert nutritional assessment and ongoing nutritional care to all weight loss surgery clients, individualised to their needs.
If the above information is of interest to you and you feel obesity surgery may assist you on your path to a healthy pregnancy, begin your journey with Newcastle Obesity Surgery Centre. Book an appointment through our contact form or get in touch on 02 4058 3936.