Obesity or weight gain is dangerous anytime in life, especially when you are pregnant, unless you are underweight and you strive hard to gain weight in a healthy way (this is extremely rare!). Pregnancy prepares a woman to enter motherhood, a phase that demands uncompromising patience, efforts and energy, all of which are needed simultaneously to handle the journey gracefully. For such strenuous efforts, the lady needs to be fit and healthy primarily. Obesity or unfavored weight gain, both are not going to help the woman in this journey in any way. Rather, such factors only hinder the progress or make a mother’s efforts go in vain. While such are the serious consequences of weight gain, a pregnant woman should never enter the unhealthy weight gain phase any time during her pregnancy period. Otherwise, such higher weight gain during pregnancy increases the risk of preeclampsia in women giving birth for the first time, according to a research.
Preeclampsia is a condition confined only to pregnant women. Occurring after 20 weeks of pregnancy, women affected by this condition face increased blood pressure rates and high level of protein in the urine. Most of these women would have never suffered from high blood pressure until then. Preeclampsia makes itself visible in the form of swelling in the feet, legs and hands. This is also one of the reasons why moms-to-be are advised to never keep sitting continuously for prolonged hours. The scariest part is that, there is no cure for preeclampsia and you become better only when your baby pops out of you! Meeting your physician regularly can keep you from entering into eclampsia, a much more serious condition.
Around 10 million women living worldwide develop preeclampsia every year resulting in the death of more than 76,000 pregnant women and 5,00,000 babies. Preeclampsia can cause stillbirths while the mother can suffer from seizures, stroke, kidney failure and other problems. While obesity before pregnancy is an already known risk factor for preeclampsia, the latest study dwells into the effects of obesity/weight gain during pregnancy.
The study involved more than 62,000 Swedish women who were giving birth for the first time and updated their weight gain during pregnancy from time to time. Of them, 4.4 % developed preeclampsia. From other studies we do know that obesity increases the risk of preeclampsia by 2-3 folds and higher the BMI, greater is the risk. What this study helps us understand is that higher weight gain was linked to increased chances of preeclampsia after 37 weeks of pregnancy than with more severe forms of preeclampsia that develop early in pregnancy.
Self-motivated Safety Principles that Every Pregnant Woman Must Follow
Elders in the family insist pregnant woman to eat as much as possible ignoring her weight concerns. “Eat for two”, “You are bearing a life within you” “No worries, the weight would automatically drop once you start breastfeeding” might be common comments and it’s up to the lady involved to eat wisely and stay healthy.
Pregnancy causes many changes in a woman’s life-eating habits, daily routines and most of all, her physical body that undergoes multiple changes to accommodate the unborn child’s needs. While a certain amount of weight gain is recommended during pregnancy, the exact numbers vary from woman to woman depending on her pre-pregnancy weight.
The recommended weight gain and BMI for pregnant women worldwide include:
Underweight before pregnancy (BMI less than 18.5): Between 12.5 and 18 kilograms of weight gain during pregnancy
Normal weight before pregnancy (BMI between 18.5 and 24.9): Between 11.5 and 16 kilograms of weight gain during pregnancy
Overweight before pregnancy (BMI between 25 and 29.9): Between 7 and 11.5 kilograms of weight gain during pregnancy
Obese before pregnancy (BMI greater than 30): Between 5 and 9 kilograms of weight gain during pregnancy
Rapid weight gain (such as 1 kilogram every week) can be an indication of a health problem including preeclampsia. Increased weight gain can also increase your chances of diabetes. Gestational diabetes increases your risk of preeclampsia and can result in the unborn baby putting on a lot of weight. Also, a heavy baby increases the complications for the mother as delivery takes a longer time and the woman finds it more difficult to give birth to her child naturally. A woman should make herself ready for pregnancy by reaching a healthy body weight, stay within normal weight gain ranges during pregnancy by eating healthy food and exercising regularly and deliver a healthy baby at the end of full-term. For any help in losing weight before pregnancy, staying on a healthy weight during pregnancy or post-pregnancy weight loss, get in touch with our reputed nutritionists/dietitians at www.firsteatright.com. Our RDNs can guide you correctly, help you sail through your pregnancy period smoothly and aid you to regain your pre-pregnancy body after delivering a baby in the healthiest way.
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Dietitian & Nutritionist Dr. Nafeesa Imteyaz.