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Pregnancy Problems

During pregnancy, your health is number one priority. That’s why we went straight to top pregnancy health experts for all the details you want to know about the most common pregnancy problems. In our pregnancy problems guide, you can read about a slew of pregnancy conditions – everything from hemorrhoids to gestational diabetes. Find out what any pregnancy symptom could possibly mean (are you swollen just because you’re expecting, or is it a sign of some complication?) and find out whether or not it’s worth a call to your OB. If you already know you’ve got a pregnancy complication or health condition, our comprehensive articles will give you the scoop on its causes and how it can affect you and baby. Plus, get treatment tips straight from medical experts and pregnant women like you. Yup, we've got answers to all your questions about pregnancy health problems right here!

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Obesity During Pregnancy

Wondering how obesity affects pregnancy? We've got answers.

What is obesity during pregnancy?

Obesity is officially defined as a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or above. BMI is a measure of your height and weight to estimate the amount of fat on your body. The higher your BMI, the more body fat you typically have.

What are the signs of obesity during pregnancy?

In some cases, it can be hard to tell the difference between “a few extra pounds” and “obesity.” Appearance isn’t always the best indicator of health or obesity, but visible excess body fat can be one clue. Your doctor can help you figure out if you’re carrying too much extra weight.

Are there any tests for obesity during pregnancy?

BMI is a good starting point, but it doesn’t actually tell the full story. That’s because BMI is an estimation of body fat based on a person’s height and weight -- for example, a 6-foot-tall, 230-pound NFL lineman probably has less body fat than a 6-foot-tall, 230-pound armchair quarterback of a husband. That’s why some health care providers will use other measures, like waist circumference (which doesn’t always work so well in pregnancy!) or skinfold tests, to estimate body fat.

How common is obesity during pregnancy?

More common than you might think. About one in four women of childbearing age are obese.

How did I get obese?

While many people are quick to blame obesity on poor eating habits and lack of exercise, the fact is, a wide variety of factors, including stress, metabolism and genetic history, influence a woman’s weight.

How will my obesity affect my baby?

“One of the major concerns with obesity in pregnant women is that the risk of stillbirth is doubled in women with BMIs over 30. The risk goes from 1 in 1,000 to 1 in 500,” says Rebecca Kolp, MD, an ob-gyn at Massachusetts General Hospital.

Maternal obesity also increases the risk of birth defects. Babies of obese moms have twice the risk of neural tube defects, a 30 percent greater risk of heart defects, a 20 percent greater risk of cleft lip or palate, a 60 percent greater risk of fluid in the brain and a 30 percent increased risk of problems with arm and leg development.
Obesity increases your risk of developing gestational diabetes and/or high blood pressure and preeclampsia during pregnancy -- conditions that can cause problems for you and for baby.

Obesity also increases risks at birth. Obese moms are more likely to deliver larger babies and more likely to need a c-section or other interventions during birth. (See next page for info on treating your obesity during pregnancy.)

-- Jennifer L.W. Fink


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