Can Being Overweight Affect Your Reproductive Health?

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IN THIS ARTICLE

Obesity is a condition in which the accumulation of fat crosses that of normal levels in the human body. This can lead to many health issues and related problems. According to WHO, more than 1.9 billion adults were overweight, of which 650 million were obese worldwide (1). Obesity in females can be a precursor to reproductive and pregnancy issues, posing a significant risk for both the mother and the infant. Maternal obesity is linked with heart disease, hypertension, and diabetes in both mother and child in later life (2).

Despite being one of the major causes of health issues during pregnancy, weight gain and obesity are not taken as seriously as they ought to be. In countries where general health awareness is low, it is also common that being overweight is considered better compared to being fit. Gaining weight is often associated with wellness or being from better economic status. Such uninformed views can be detrimental to the health and wellbeing of large groups. Awareness of the health risks of being overweight will go a long way in combating the menace of obesity.

1. How To Check If Someone Is Overweight Or Obese

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Fortunately, there is an easy way to know if you are overweight or obese. Your BMI or Body Mass Index is a good indicator of the level of fat accumulation. BMI is calculated using a person’s height and weight. You can get your BMI calculated at a nearby medical center or even at your gym. If your number is between 25 to 29.9, you are in the overweight category, while anything above 30 is considered obese. The numbers in the range of 18.5 to 24.9 are what is considered to be normal weight.

Tracking the BMI is a great way to keep track of your fitness and overall health. It gives a general indication of where you stand in terms of your body weight. So, it makes sense to get your BMI checked every two to three months. If you have initiated healthy habits or some form of workout, and doing it diligently, you will clearly start seeing improvements in your BMI number as the weeks pass by.

2. Complications That Can Arise From Prenatal Obesity

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Obesity has several potentially harmful effects, which are not just limited to your health but your baby’s health too. Some of the problems that maternal obesity can lead to are:

  • Hormonal Imbalance: Obesity is strongly connected to hormonal irregularities in women leading to infertility problems (3).
  • Blood Pressure And Hypertension Disorders: Maternal obesity has been found to have a strong association with blood pressure disorders leading to hypertension (4). Conditions like preeclampsia and blood clotting can also be caused because of this.
  • Gestational Diabetes: Research has shown that women with prenatal obesity are four to eight times more likely to develop gestational diabetes than women with normal weight (5). This effect is also observed to develop post-birth along with insulin resistance in lactating mothers.
  • Childhood Obesity: Obesity in the mother can lead to the condition called fetal macrosomia, in which the risk of obesity is higher in the child during childbirth as well as in future life (6).
  • Miscarriage And Stillbirth: As unfortunate it is, obesity can also lead to miscarriages and stillbirths. Higher rates of miscarriages have been observed in obese women compared to ones with normal weight (7).

3. How To Tackle Prenatal Obesity For A Healthy Pregnancy

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Research has shown that preventative measures in achieving a normal body weight before and during pregnancy work better than late-stage medical intervention (8). You can adopt the following healthy practices in your daily routine to stay fit:

  • Healthy Eating: Get help from your nutritionist in forming a healthy diet plan. Proper eating goes a long way in providing both the mother and child optimum nutrition during and after birth. Of course, consult your doctor before committing to a diet plan to see what is suitable for you.
  • Some Form Of Physical Exercise: Workouts are a great way to burn excess calories and fat. However, during pregnancy, you will have to be careful not to exert yourself too much. Take guidance from your physician in planning a workout routine. Many maternal centers also provide guided workout and yoga sessions that you can take advantage of.
  • Prenatal Care: Plan it out with your doctor to have regular checkups and prenatal monitoring. Even when you’re not feeling any problems, regular checks are a must as they will help you keep track of stats like glucose and pressure levels.
  • Avoid Extreme Diet Or Fasting Plans: In a rush to lose weight, some mothers might resort to diet plans which may be detrimental to your health and your baby’s. It would be advisable not to resort to any such extreme diets. To practice a healthy diet, consult with your doctor or nutritionist to give you the green light.

It’s no surprise that maintaining a healthy body weight and avoiding obesity is a good precedent for starting a family. The benefits of maintaining a healthy body extend beyond just pregnant women and apply to everyone. However, as seen from the above, the importance of keeping obesity at bay is more so in the case of pregnant women, as it involves the health of the baby as well. Being aware and putting in the effort to implement small changes are the first steps towards gradually transitioning to a healthier lifestyle. Being involved in fitness activities and keeping track of our eating habits will go a long way in maintaining good health.

As countless research and journals have clearly shown the linkage between obesity and maternal health, it is something we can’t ignore. Obesity is one of the leading causes of death in today’s world. It is high time we take it seriously and do our best to inform our friends and family about it. Have you experienced issues during pregnancy because of being overweight or obese? How did you deal with it? Feel free to comment below and share your insights with fellow pregnant women and help them out!

References:

MomJunction's articles are written after analyzing the research works of expert authors and institutions. Our references consist of resources established by authorities in their respective fields. You can learn more about the authenticity of the information we present in our editorial policy.
  1. Obesity
    https://www.who.int/health-topics/obesity#tab=tab_1
  2. The Impact of Maternal Obesity on Maternal and Fetal Health
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2621047/
  3. Association of Obesity with Hormonal Imbalance in Infertility: A Cross-Sectional Study in North Indian Women
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3783913/
  4. Associations of maternal obesity with blood pressure and the risks of gestational hypertensive disorders. The Generation R Study
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21430559/
  5. Gestational diabetes and childhood obesity: what is the link?
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4392761/
  6. The Effect of Maternal Obesity on the Offspring
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4862374/
  7. Does obesity increase the risk of miscarriage in spontaneous conception: a systematic review
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22161463/
  8. The Risks Associated With Obesity in Pregnancy
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5954173/
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Tikendrajit Pegu

Tikendrajit Pegu is a content contributor at MomJunction. An engineering graduate, he also holds a postgraduate degree in management. He gravitates towards writing articles related to parenting and health, and also has a good understanding of topics related to finance and economics.  Tikendrajit has over five years of corporate experience working on digital projects. Currently, he is based in Guwahati,... more