Pregnancy Weight Gain: How Obesity Affects Pregnancy

by Dr. S. Mayadevi Kurup

Obesity among pregnant women is one of the most significant issues facing women's health today. Obesity is linked to an increased risk of multiple pregnancy complications. Women with an increased body mass index (BMI) are more likely to experience gestational hypertension, pre-eclampsia, gestational diabetes mellitus, delivery of large-for-gestational-age infants, and a higher incidence of congenital defects. Obesity during pregnancy can affect both your health and the health of your unborn child. Talk to our best gynaecologist in Ernakulam to get suggestions for weight gain and what you can do to support a healthy pregnancy.

What is obesity?

BMI values between 25 and 29.9 are considered to be overweight. Obesity means a BMI of 30 or higher. There are three levels within the general category of obesity that represent the growing health risks that accompany rising BMI:

  1. Category I obesity: BMI of 30–34.9
  2. Category II obesity: BMI of 35–39.9
  3. Category III obesity: BMI of 40 or higher.

How does obesity increase your risk of severe health issues during pregnancy?

  1. Gestational hypertension: Gestational hypertension is high blood pressure that develops in the second trimester of pregnancy. This may result in serious health complications
  2. Pre-eclampsia: This is a severe type of gestational hypertension that develops in the second half of pregnancy or shortly after delivery. As a result of this condition, obese women may develop liver and kidney failure. Seizures, heart attacks, and strokes can occur on occasion. Other dangers include issues with the placenta and the growth of the foetus
  3. Macrosomia: The foetus is larger than usual in this condition. This could result in birth injuries during delivery
  4. Gestational diabetes: A very large baby is more likely to be born if blood sugar levels are high during pregnancy. Mothers can also expect Caesarean deliveries in this situation. Women who have experienced gestational diabetes are more likely to develop diabetes mellitus later in life, which can also be passed on to their kids
  5. Obstructive sleep apnea: This condition causes a person's breathing to stop briefly while sleeping. Sleep apnoea during pregnancy can make you tired and raise your risk of pre-eclampsia, high blood pressure, and heart and lung issues
  6. Birth defects: Obese pregnant women are more likely to give birth to children who have birth defects like heart defects and neural tube defects
  7. Issues with diagnostic procedures: Excessive body fat can obscure certain foetal anatomy issues during an ultrasound exam. It might be more challenging to monitor the foetal heart rate during labour if you are obese.

Steps to promote a healthy pregnancy

You can have a healthy pregnancy if you are obese, despite the risks. It requires careful weight management, diet and exercise monitoring, and routine prenatal care to check for complications and special labour and delivery considerations.

Stick to a weight-loss plan

The best way to reduce the risk of issues brought on by obesity is to lose weight before becoming pregnant. Even minimal weight loss can lead to a healthier pregnancy and an improvement in general health.

Pregnancy is an excellent time to begin exercising if you have never done so before. To make sure your exercise programme is safe, talk to your doctor. Your objective should be to exercise for 30 minutes most days of the week, ideally every day. You can also walk for 20 min after each meal.

If you have never exercised before, walking is a good option. Another beneficial exercise for pregnant women is swimming. Your weight is supported by the water, preventing injury and muscle strain. It also aids in keeping you calm.

Consume a healthy diet

For the sake of your health and the health of your developing foetus, it is important to strike a balance between eating healthy foods and maintaining a healthy weight. A pregnant woman requires an additional 300 calories per day on average in the second and third trimesters, or about the same number of calories as a glass of skim milk and half of a sandwich. Consult a nutritionist for assistance in creating a healthy diet plan.

  1. Add low carbohydrate and fat high protein to the diet
  2. Reduce the use of rice.

Further points that can help obese pregnant women are as follows

  1. Foods and beverages with natural sweetness are preferable to those with artificial sweeteners or added sugar
  2. Keeping unhealthy snacks and junk food out of your home is the best way to avoid indulging in them
  3. Eat fewer fats. Cooking oils, margarine, butter, gravy, sauces, mayonnaise, standard salad dressings, lard, sour cream and cream cheese are some foods containing fats. Try these foods in their lower-fat varieties
  4. You can reduce your risks and encourage a healthy pregnancy by collaborating with your Obstetrician.


1. How does obesity affect the ability to get pregnant?

Higher oestrogen levels are frequently produced by fat cells, which can be harmful to your body's attempts to ovulate.

2. Can obesity cause miscarriage?

Pregnant women who are overweight or obese are significantly more likely to miscarry.

3. Can an obese woman have a natural birth?

It is better to be at a healthy weight before getting pregnant in order to prevent potential issues like labour complications and birth defects.

4. Can belly fat affect pregnancy?

Belly fat is not a barrier to becoming pregnant.

5. Does obesity stop ovulation?

Women with a BMI greater than 27 are three times more likely than women of normal weight to be unable to conceive because they do not ovulate.