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Planning a Pregnancy? Diet first

Dieting

We know it seems like doctors are always counseling you about your weight. But here’s an even better reason to achieve a normal body mass index for women of reproductive age — better pregnancy outcomes. 

Women who are obese and planning pregnancy are at risk for complications of pregnancy, including decreased fertility,  as well as miscarriages, growth disorders for the fetus, birthing problems, diabetes and hypertension, just to name a few.  It's not known exactly why obese patients have trouble conceiving. Women who are obese and have polycystic ovarian disease (PCOS) are less likely to ovulate and conceive. But women who are obese without PCOS are also less likely to ovulate than the average person due to increased insulin resistance (your body not responding to insulin as normal women do). Treating obseity in these women will increase fertility.  Miscarriages also called spontaneous abortions (SABs) and recurrent SABs are also associated with obesity.  In addition women who also have diabetes secondary to obesity are particularly prone to risk.  

In obese pregnant patients, the body doesn't pass nutrients to the baby as effectively. Moms who are obese will preferentially put on midline fat in the last trimester, and this is not necessarily beneficial for the developing fetus. Hypertension and diabetes as well as labor abnormalities are associated with obesity during pregnancy. Moms are also at more risk to have pre-eclampsia. Stillbirth rates are increased 2.6 fold in women with obesity. If an obese woman receives surgery, such as a C-section, it is more likely she will have a complication of that surgery, including increased risks with anesthesia and/or bleeding and infection.

Be sure to see your gynecologist before trying to become pregnant. We want to know about your sugar processing, nutrition, and overall fitness as well as whether or not you are overweight. If you can effectively postpone pregnancy until you have normalized your weight, or at least gotten closer to a normal weight, you will be at a lower risk for complications of pregnancy. 

Here’s to a happy and healthy lifestyle and pregnancy!

About Allison Taylor MD

I am an OB/GYN with the Center for Women’s Health in Wichita, Kan.