obesity and pregnancy outcome


Obesity has fast established itself as a disease of increasing proportion and being obese has been shown to be a risk factor for many diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, high blood cholesterol and many heart diseases. Obesity in women can cause serious pregnancy-related complications, but it is a risk factor that can be modified to improve birth outcomes. Some adverse outcomes that are associated with maternal overweight and obesity include, labor and delivery complications, birth defects, death of the fetus and maternal complications such as gestational diabetes and pregnancy induced hypertension.

The risk posed by an obese pregnant woman is also pertinent to the unborn child. The dramatically increasing rate of obesity and the increasing rate of preterm births or premature births have led to recent investigations of an association of maternal obesity with premature births. Its been found that though being obese may not be an independent risk factor for premature births, obesity increases the rates of medical complications (such as hypertension and diabetes) that have been shown to contribute to premature births. Apart from this, obese women have difficulty giving birth naturally and may have to be assisted through means such as a ceaserean section and this brings added cost to the woman and her family. Considering the fact that many women in Ghana deliver at home or with the help of Traditional Birth Attendants who don’t have the expertise to perform assisted deliveries, being obese places the mother and babies life at increased risk especially when the birth does not take place in a hospital.

With these complications in mind, an obese woman planning to get pregnant or already pregnant may wonder what to do. NO PREGNANT WOMAN SHOULD GO ON A DIET TO LOSE WEIGHT WITHOUT THE ADVICE OF A DOCTOR OR DIETITIAN. This is because if not done well, it can lead to complications for the baby. Regular exercise such as walking at least 30 minuts daily is recommended for pregnant obese women. If the woman can’t do the whole 30 minutes at once, she can do it a little at a time. An obese pregnant woman should also reduce intake of fats and oils but eat more fruits and vegetables. Soft drinks and pastries consumption should also be reduced as they have a lot of calories but are low in other nutrients. The woman should also eat at least three regular meals with fruits as snacks in between her meals and have enough rest. Intake of alcohol and smoking should also be ceased and she should receive support from her spouse and entire family.


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