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Ask the Childbirth Educator: Obesity and Pregnancy

obesity pregnancy

obesity pregnancy

I am overweight but really keen to fall pregnant again. I’m about 30kg over my ideal weight. Is it really important to lose this weight first?

Hi Michelle,

First of all, I can really relate personally to your question because I was in a similar position before I got pregnant with my first child. Thankfully, I fell pregnant very quickly and was fortunate to have a very textbook easy pregnancy. I was very careful not to gain too much during my pregnancy though and probably didn’t gain more than about 8kgs in total.

However, in saying that, it would definitely be ideal if you did lose some weight before conceiving. Firstly, it might actually help you to conceive in the first place as being overweight can harm your fertility by inhibiting normal ovulation and secondly, it will certainly make for a lighter, more comfortable load to carry during pregnancy – especially towards the end!

It’s also important to be aware that being overweight during pregnancy increases the risk of various pregnancy complications, including:

Gestational diabetes. Women who are overweight are more likely to have diabetes that develops during pregnancy (gestational diabetes) than are women who have a normal weight.

Preeclampsia. Women who are overweight are at increased risk of developing high blood pressure and protein in the urine after 20 weeks of pregnancy (preeclampsia).

Infection. Women who are obese during pregnancy are at increased risk of urinary tract infections. Obesity also increases the risk of postpartum infection, whether the baby is delivered vaginally or by C-section.

Thrombosis. Women who are obese during pregnancy are at increased risk of a serious condition in which a blood clot forms inside a blood vessel (thrombosis).

Obstructive sleep apnoea. Women who are obese during pregnancy might be at increased risk of a potentially serious sleep disorder in which breathing repeatedly stops and starts (obstructive sleep apnoea).

Overdue pregnancy. Obesity increases the risk that pregnancy will continue beyond the expected due date.

Labour problems. Labour induction is more common in women who are obese. Obesity can also interfere with the use of certain types of pain medication, such as an epidural block.

C-section. Being very overweight during pregnancy increases the likelihood of elective and emergency C-sections and also increases the risk of C-section complications, such as delayed healing and wound infections. Women who are overweight are also less likely to have a successful vaginal delivery after a C-section (VBAC).

Pregnancy loss. Obesity increases the risk of miscarriage and stillbirth.

I would recommend having a chat with your family practitioner and telling him/her that you’d really love to become pregnant again soon and that you’d like some help and advice on losing some weight beforehand. Together, you can work out a diet and exercise plan that will help you achieve your goals of losing weight, getting pregnant and enjoying a healthy pregnancy and birth!
Wishing you the very best!


Tanya Strusberg is a Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator (LCCE) and teaches prenatal education to pregnant women and their partners in Melbourne.
She and her husband Doron have two beautiful children, Liev and Amalia.

To learn more visit


Disclaimer: The information contained in this column is of a general nature only and does not constitute formal medical advice. Any specific medical problem should be referred directly to a qualified health professional.



Jolene enjoys writing, sharing and connecting with other like-minded women online – it also gives her the perfect excuse to ignore Mount-Washmore until it threatens to bury her family in an avalanche of Skylander T-shirts and Frozen Pyjama pants. (No one ever knows where the matching top is!) Likes: Reading, cooking, sketching, dancing (preferably with a Sav Blanc in one hand), social media, and sitting down on a toilet seat that one of her children hasn’t dripped, splashed or sprayed on. Dislikes: Writing pretentious crap about herself in online bio’s and refereeing arguments amongst her offspring.

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