Being overweight or obese can cause a whole host of problems for women trying to get pregnant
Overweight and obese women have more difficulty getting pregnant, as well as more complications—including high blood pressure, diabetes, preterm birth, modified bed rest, infections, blood clots, miscarriage and stillbirth—during pregnancy. And a study from the University of Newcastle in England found obese women have a higher risk of delivering babies with certain birth defects, including heart problems, cleft palate and spina bifida.
Though the risk of birth defects is low—2 percent to 4 percent—the study authors intended their research to be both informational and inspirational for women who are obese, encouraging them to get preconception counseling about weight loss.
Get Your Body Baby-Ready
Before you and your boo try to start a family, have a preconception checkup. During this medical checkup, your health-care provider will make sure you’re healthy when you get pregnant. Be sure to discuss any medical conditions that run in your family, and, if you’re overweight, talk about ways to lose that weight and how to incorporate healthier food into your diet.
If You’re Overweight or Obese….
Overweight and obesity are at epidemic proportions in this country, especially for black women. Four out of five of us tend to be too heavy long before getting pregnant. If this is you, try to drop the pounds before you try to conceive. “If your BMI is greater than 40, consider weight-loss surgery,” says Janice Henderson, M.D., at Johns Hopkins. “And then use birth control until your weight stabilizes, usually 12 months.”
You don’t have to have surgery to lose weight, of course. Healthy eating, exercise and other lifestyle changes can help you lose weight without surgery. Talk to your provider about your pregnancy plans and how weight-loss surgery might affect them.