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Pregnancy and obesity: Know the risks
Concerned about pregnancy and obesity? Understand the risks of obesity during pregnancy — plus steps to promote a healthy pregnancy.By Mayo Clinic staff
Being obese during pregnancy can have a major impact on your health and your baby's health. Find out about the possible complications, recommendations for weight gain and what you can do to promote a healthy pregnancy.
What's considered obese?
Obesity is defined as having an excessive amount of body fat. A formula based on height and weight — called the body mass index (BMI) — is often used to determine if a person is obese.
|30 and higher||Obese|
|40 and higher||Extreme obesity|
Could obesity affect my ability to get pregnant?
Being obese can harm your fertility by inhibiting normal ovulation. Obesity can also affect the outcome of in vitro fertilization (IVF). As a woman's BMI increases, so does the risk of unsuccessful IVF.
How might obesity affect my pregnancy?
Being obese during pregnancy increases the risk of various pregnancy complications, including:
- Gestational diabetes. Women who are obese are more likely to have diabetes that develops during pregnancy (gestational diabetes) than are women who have a normal weight.
- Preeclampsia. Women who are obese are at increased risk of developing high blood pressure and protein in the urine after 20 weeks of pregnancy (preeclampsia).
- Infection. Women who are obese during pregnancy are at increased risk of urinary tract infections. Obesity also increases the risk of postpartum infection, whether the baby is delivered vaginally or by C-section.
- Thrombosis. Women who are obese during pregnancy are at increased risk of a serious condition in which a blood clot forms inside a blood vessel (thrombosis).
- Obstructive sleep apnea. Women who are obese during pregnancy might be at increased risk of a potentially serious sleep disorder in which breathing repeatedly stops and starts (obstructive sleep apnea). Pregnancy might also worsen existing obstructive sleep apnea.
- Overdue pregnancy. Obesity increases the risk that pregnancy will continue beyond the expected due date.
- Labor problems. Labor induction is more common in women who are obese. Obesity can also interfere with the use of certain types of pain medication, such as an epidural block.
- C-section. Obesity during pregnancy increases the likelihood of elective and emergency C-sections. Obesity also increases the risk of C-section complications, such as delayed healing and wound infections. Women who are obese are also less likely to have a successful vaginal delivery after a C-section (VBAC).
- Pregnancy loss. Obesity increases the risk of miscarriage and stillbirth.
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