4 Things You Didn't Know About Pregnancy & Your Weight

pregnant stripesIs there a touchier subject than pregnancy and weight? We all know gaining too much weight -- or starting off overweight before you even get pregnant -- is going to get you some lectures from your doctor. I have friends who gained 60 pounds or more while pregnant, so I have to tread lightly here. But ... new information has come to light about pregnancy and weight. It's going to start out sounding pretty dire, but I think it ends on a hopeful note. Here are four surprising things doctors are learning about the heavy side of pregnancy.

1. Heavier pregnant women tend to deliver prematurely. This is based on a study of 1.5 million Swedish women. Doctors think this is because of the perfect storm of other symptoms associated with being obese or overweight: High blood pressure, insulin problems, etc. But wait, there's more!

2. Obese women have a higher risk of urinary tract infections and vaginal infections. Ugh, exactly what you don't want when you're pregnant (or, well, ever). Isn't pregnancy uncomfortable enough on its own? By the way, these infections also increase the risk of preterm delivery. In fact, bacterial infection is THE greatest risk factor for very early preterm births.

More from The Stir: 6 Wild Pregnancy Cravings & What They Could Really Mean

3. Pregnancy actually IS a good time to lose weight -- for some women. A doctor from the study says, "The concept that we propagated for years that pregnancy is not a good time for weight loss and physical activity is wrong." We've since learned that moderate exercise is great for pregnancy. But the doctors in the study also say losing weight might benefit you if your weight poses other risks to your health and the health of your baby. But here's the silver lining.

4. Pregnancy is a great time to make major changes. "I consider pregnancy to be an ideal time for behavioural modification," one of the doctors says. That's because when you're pregnant, you're already under constant medical care and you're in a more compliant frame of mind because you feel responsibility for this new life growing inside of you.

Do you think knowing that excessive weight could lead to premature births will encourage more pregnant moms to watch their weight?


Image via Frank de Klein/Flickr

complications, is it safe, pregnancy health, weight gain


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nonmember avatar Rach

I need more specificity in this article to make a judgement. How overweight are we talking? I was 20 pounds overweight when I got pregnant and gained 40 pounds and I had a very normal pregnancy and delivered at 40 weeks and two days. Most people are considered "overweight" so knowing at what point the risks are greater would be helpful.

mande... manderspanders

My pre-pregnancy weight was 301lbs at 6ft tall.  I lost 80lbs before i got pregnant, 60 of that in the 8 months before conceiving... I had intended to lose another 50-60 before even trying to get pregnant.  I don't look like your stereotypical obese woman. I walk - ALOT.  I lift weights (well, before I found out I was prego).  I swim.  I make every effort to stay active.  I ate a well rounded diet both before and for most of my pregnancy.

I've gained 9lbs and am 36 weeks.  I'm NOT diabetic, not even close.  I DON'T have any complications to speak of - blood pressure is fine, ZERO UTIs, no other infections, no s/s of pre-eclampsia, completely normal 24hr UA and blood counts. I don't have really ANY problems with swelling, only occassionally in my feet/ankles when I have been driving for hours for work.A 32 week ultrasound proved that the baby was growing appropriately and didn't appear LGA (was in the 62nd percentile for dates).

If you had seen my labs before pregnancy, you would have NEVER known looking at the paper that I am obese - my body functions the same as a normal weight person because of my lifestyle activies and moderated food intake.  If you saw my labs now, you'd see a woman who is having a completely normal, uncomplicated, healthy pregnancy.


mande... manderspanders


Sooo.... I get really tired of lumping all overweight/obese women into the same category.  My BMI may say obese, and I may still wear a size 22, but I *am* healthy both currently and prior to pregnancy.... and I will continue to improve my health after I have this baby (because it IS about health, not the number on the scale).  So, I think studies need to more accurately describe who/how they determine overweight/obese and factor in each woman's lifestyle in determining outcomes for pregnancy... because I'd argue to the death that it has WAY, WAY more to do with *lifestyle* than one's weight/BMI prior to or during pregnancy.

nonmember avatar Lizzie Borden

I started out with the pre-pregnancy weight of 117 lbs. and now I'm up to 121.5 at 16 weeks pregnant. I don't see much of a difference aside from belly and boobs but I dread gaining more. Still active andd trying to eat right but I admit I threw a day old quesadilla down the hatch AFTER dinner and then made a sandwich. Whyyy!!!?

hopef... hopefulmommieLW

OMG manderspanders I LOVE you!!! Seriously, I as well am over weight at 6 ft tall, but I am EXTREMELY active and athletic.....These studies NEED to take into accoub=nt LIFESTYLE!!!

kumora kumora

i was far underweight beforehand, never able to get above 115 lbs at 5'7" and small boned. it was mostly my metabolism because i will admit i am lazy but it is because of health issues which include asthma and my back and joint issues. now around 24 weeks i am around 135, which according to the bmi index would be perfect for not being pregnant lol. dont like gaining all this but i know i need more weight on me, as it would pronbably help me with dealing with pains believe it or not and make it to where my blood pressure wasn't too low like it has always been. i dont think its weight but life style and how you think about your own body, since they have proven that the mind has a powerful influence on the way the body is, which includes looks and health.

amazz... amazzonia

Thank God I'm fat, I went into labor at 41+1 can't imagine if I w as thin lol

Salem... SalemWitchChild

I was overweight with both pregnancies. With both I went late (41w with 1st, 42w with 2nd), and as a matter of fact never went into labor naturally. My first was induced, second c-section. Both times I lost around 20lbs without dieting or exercise. I had big babies but did not have gestational diabeties or any other problem. The only thing that made my pregnancies high risk was I had lost a baby before. (unknown cause)

Jen Chabot Brouillard

Well crap, I've been obese for all of my pregnancies.....delivering at 236, 236, and 232(lost weight from pre-preg with 2&3). No complications, no illness, no prematurity. Just perfectly healthy little ones. :-)

nonmember avatar JK

I wasn't overweight when I got pregnant. I gained 50 lbs with my son and currently still overweight because losing the weight is ridiculously hard when you suffer from depression and other things. I also ended up being hospitalized for UTIs a couple of times and had to have a C-section because I was so high-risk. Even getting pregnant at a normal weight can cause issues.

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