Skip to main content

Are you fit to carry a pregnancy?

Obesity in pregnancy

Pregnancy is beautiful.

But 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.  Maternal obesity is also 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.

Considering the challeges obesity presents to pregnant women, it is paramount that management of obesity begins before, and continues 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.

Christine Nderitu

Licensed Nutritionist and Public Health Practitioner, Christine, helps people lead healthy lifestyles through health education and behaviour change practices that are simple and practical. She writes a weekly (Monday) nutrition column in the People Daily and is experienced in nutrition management, research, health education and promotion in; HIV/AIDS, Sexual and Reproductive Health, Maternal and Child Health and Non-Communicable Diseases. She has been engaged in these activities since 2011. Christine feels the world needs more stories that celebrate and normalize desired (good) behaviour. And humanity-we have many preventable and often manmade public health issues today.