Pregnancy and Obesity
Often people wonder if an obese woman can become pregnant. It is absolutely possible for them to become pregnant. However the risks to the mother and baby are indeed higher. Let us see the risks associated.
Risks to the Pregnant Obese Mother
- Sleep Apnea – Sleep apnea is a brief period where a person stops breathing. You could often notice that obese people have difficulty in breathing normally. Having sleep apnea during pregnancy can lead to other complications like high blood pressure, heart and lung disorders.
- Gestational Diabetes – It is diabetes diagnosed for the first time during pregnancy. The possibility of gestational diabetes is invariably higher in an obese woman.
- Damage to Kidney – Often after 20 weeks of pregnancy the damage to kidneys can occur and hence obese women need to watch out. Often this kidney damage is induced by the high blood pressure. This condition is called Preeclampsia.
- Eclampsia – The same hypertension can induce convulsion or fits and this is termed as eclampsia.
- Cesarean – Delivering a baby through normal delivery procedures is extremely rare for an obese woman. Because the body is mostly made of fat and the muscle mass is less. Less muscles means the obese mother is unable to push the baby out during delivery. The baby is also invariably obese and this makes normal delivery a rarity. So the probability of delivering the baby by cesarean is extremely high.
Risks to the Baby when mother is obese during pregnancy
- The greatest risk is the pregnancy loss or abortion. Since the obese body may sometimes not support a developing fetus, unfortunately sometimes pregnancy loss might occur.
- Diagnosis may be uneasy and challenging. As a pregnant woman has to undergo procedures like ultrasound, determining the health of the womb might be a bit challenging due to the obese condition.
- Birth defect is not uncommon for babies formed inside an obese mother. The difficulty in ascertaining the health of the womb is a related factor.
- Preterm birth is a common condition. The baby may not complete the full 39 week of pregnancy in case of preterm and hence in a long-term the baby may not be as healthy as a normal kid.
- The most unfortunate risk is the risk of having a stillborn baby. This is extremely distressful.
- Increasingly it is being pointed that obese parents are responsible for obese children and hence the incidence of childhood obesity is higher if the mother is also obese.
Dr Maran is an experienced Surgeon in the field of Gastro-enterology. He specializes in Advanced laparoscopic Surgery procedures of the gastro-intestinal (GI) tracts. Dr. Maran is also a leading Bariatric Surgeon in Chennai and has a penchant for addressing problems concerning Obesity.