How does a pregnant mother’s obesity affect the health of her baby?

pregnant obesityThe saying “a baby changes everything” isn’t just an adage. For most women, it’s a fact. Finding out that you’re pregnant changes everything from your morning routine to your spending habits.

But a recent study shows there is something’s else that needs to change before the baby is even conceived. The mother’s health is a direct influence on the baby’s health, and the weight of the mother-to-be plays a large role in the baby’s likelihood for survival.

In fact, the study showed that “among normal-weight moms, about four in 1,000 babies die after birth; among moderately obese moms, that rises to nearly six babies per 1,000 and among morbidly obese moms, it’s more than eight babies per 1,000 live births.”

While the numbers might seem small, they were consistent across the study and even across the causes of death, including SIDS and congenital abnormalities.

Though it is a sad subject to talk about, Dr. Dirk knows it is a serious one for many of his patients.

“As an obesity surgeon, I have patients who have surgery with me to make it easier to become pregnant,” Dr. Dirk says. “I tell these patients that after surgery, they can have healthy pregnancies and minimize weight gain.”

Weight gain during pregnancy is easy to overdo — many moms start “eating for two” as soon as they get the news. In reality, Dr. Dirk says a weight gain of only 20-25 pounds is healthy, and only during the last two months of the pregnancy.

Doctors can have a hard time counseling patients about the pregnancy risks of obesity. If a patient doesn’t indicate they plan on a pregnancy, it can be awkward to bring up the impact of being overweight on pregnancy months or even years before the patient is even considering a baby. On the other hand, once a patient is pregnant, it is hard to counsel them on their weight when there are so many other factors that play into having a healthy pregnancy.

Ultimately, maintaining a lifestyle that keeps your weight in check with nutritious eating and aerobic exercise is always the way to go.

“Obesity is a serious health issue at any time of our lives,” Dallas Weight Loss Surgeon, Dr. Dirk says.