While a good number in this era ‘plan’ for pregnancies, the planning mostly involves getting off birth control. Rarely do we think about whether our weight is good for the pregnancy. According to World Health Organization, obesity has more than doubled among adults above 18 since 1980. This has resulted in the increase in the number of obese women of reproductive age, and the rise of a relatively new high-risk population; obese pregnant women.
To start, obesity can be the very impediment to conception, as it is associated with reduced fertility. In pregnancy, obesity is associated with adverse outcomes to the mother such as spontaneous miscarriage, preterm birth, gestational diabetes, pre-eclampsia, instrumental and cesarean births, infections and postpartum hemorrhage. Further, maternal obesity is associated with congenital anomalies, neonatal adiposity and risk for childhood obesity, among children born to these mums. Postpartum, obese women have a higher risk of venous thromboembolism, difficulty with lactation and depression, while a new mum may have difficulties breastfeeding.
It is unnerving for health providers to address obesity and the related adverse metabolic effect among pregnant women since there are limited therapeutic options, plus we lack standardized guidelines and evidence on how best to address them. Given, management of obesity should begin before and continue all the way to during and after pregnancy.
Obesity is a result of a lifestyle characterized by high energy diets and low physical activity. As such, one should be deliberate on having healthy meals, and physical activity, even during pregnancy. Further, given various studies suggest that 50 to 60 percent of obese women gain more weight in pregnancy than is recommended, it is safe to say that eating for two is a myth. Focus more on the quality of food, as opposed to quantity, even during breastfeeding.
Remember, breastfeeding helps you return to your pre-pregnancy weight.