Having a safe pregnancy and eventually bringing life into this world is the epitome of motherhood. However, research shows that a percentage of women experience certain complications during pregnancy, and the risks increase considerably for a plus-size pregnancy. Body mass index (BMI) is one of the essential criteria measured to approximate an individual’s body fat. A pre-pregnancy index of 25 to 29.9 shows that you are overweight while an index of 30 and higher shows that you are obese.
Risks of a Plus-Size Pregnancy
More often than not, plus-size women experience considerable difficulty when trying to conceive as the additional weight interferes with normal ovulation. Such women may also need to undergo several in-vitro fertilization attempts before conception. When conception finally takes place, it is crucial to garner knowledge about possible complications that may occur and thus understand how to mitigate the risks and maintain a healthy pregnancy.
The following are the risks of a pregnancy when a woman is plus size:
About five percent of pregnant women end up having gestational diabetes as the blood sugar levels rise above average. Plus-size women’s risk of experiencing gestational diabetes is double that of women with a BMI of under 25. Also, gestational diabetes is associated with the risk of delivering a larger-than-normal baby, and this could further complicate the delivery process. Additionally, the newborn may become hypoglycemic after birth or develop type-2 diabetes from birth.
Typically, pregnant women are tested for gestational diabetes at 24 to 28 weeks of pregnancy during routine prenatal checkups. However, for a pregnant plus-size woman, it is advisable to get the gestational diabetes test earlier and again at 24 weeks. To prevent gestational diabetes, you would need to engage in light physical activity, such as walking, and adhere to a stringent low-carbohydrate diet.
In the event that you acquire gestational diabetes, your doctor may prescribe medication or insulin shots depending on the severity of the condition. Alternatively, you can manage the condition with proper nutrition and exercise.
Pre-eclampsia is a common condition in pregnant women, characterized by high blood pressure coupled with the risk of excess bleeding and seizures during pregnancy. Plus-size women are at a greater risk of experiencing pre-eclampsia during pregnancy and eclampsia during delivery. During pregnancy, you need to undergo blood tests, urine tests, and fetal ultrasound to check whether you are at risk of pre-eclampsia. If you have pre-eclampsia, the doctor will prescribe medications to lower your blood pressure, prevent seizures, and improve the functionality of the liver. In extreme cases, during the late stages of pregnancy, you may be induced into labor to prevent eclampsia, which has the potential to cause organ failure and seizures.
Pain During a Plus-Size Pregnancy
The extra weight that women gain during pregnancy exerts pressure on their joints and ligaments. Plus-size women suffer greater levels of pain since they already come into the pregnancy with extra weight. As such, the pregnancy stresses their knees, ankles, pelvis, and back. You may find it difficult to be physically active during the pregnancy when you have joint pain, but doctors insistently advise that physical activity is necessary. You can invest in a heating pad to ease joint inflammation and a belly-support belt that will help you carry your belly more easily without stressing your ligaments.
Some women go through pregnancy hoping for a normal delivery, but some end up having to undergo a c-section. A c-section has become a common method of delivery, with some women even opting for it as the first choice despite not having any complications. Pregnant plus-size women are more likely, than normal-weight women, to have a cesarean delivery. Additional risks associated with a plus-size pregnancy, such as pre-eclampsia and diabetes, may prompt the need for a cesarean delivery.
Notably, plus-size women who can successfully undergo normal delivery often have a low response to epidurals. Hence, they may either have to brave the pain or go through a cesarean delivery.
Things to Consider
All pregnant women face certain risks during pregnancy, but the level of risk increases with the increase in weight. Plus-size women should frequently communicate with their healthcare providers and maintain consistent visits with their doctors during pregnancy to help monitor the pregnancy and ensure safety during delivery. The medical industry is making great strides to ensure that plus-size women experience the joy of pregnancy and motherhood.