Healthy pregnancy for plus-size women

Plus-size women can work with their providers to make a plan for a healthy pregnancy.

Obesity during pregnancy can increase the risk of birth defects and problems with pregnancy or delivery.

Longer-term problems can include continuing issues with weight for the mother and an increased risk of asthma for the child. Even so, many plus-size women have healthy pregnancies and healthy babies.

The Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development’s Pregnancy for Every Body Initiative emphasizes the need for respectful conversations between plus-size pregnant women and their providers to achieve healthy pregnancies and safe deliveries. Resources are available in English and Spanish for both women and their health care providers.

Body mass index (BMI), the ratio of a person’s height to their weight, is a key factor when developing any healthy pregnancy plan. A BMI of 30 or higher before pregnancy can mean a higher risk of some complications, such as gestational diabetes, the development of diabetes during pregnancy, and stillbirth, the loss of the fetus after 20 weeks of pregnancy.

However, a pregnant woman’s BMI is only one part of an overall healthy pregnancy plan. Her past and current health, family history, and lifestyle are also important. Plus-size pregnant women should work with their providers to control weight gain, keep chronic health conditions under control, and make a plan for delivery. The Pregnancy for Every Body initiative helps pregnant women and health care providers come together to reach a common goal: healthy pregnancies and deliveries.

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