Does BMI Affect Pregnancy? Experts Explain Why A Mother's Health Matters

Pregnant people with high BMI are at a higher risk for an variety of complications.

Her Health
3 min read
Hindi Female

The increasing rate of pregnancy with a high or low Body Mass Index (BMI) poses as a huge threat to obstetric practice, say experts, adding that maternal weight can cause a lot of life-risking health hazards for both mother and foetus.

A pregnant person's gynaecologist needs to be very well aware of these risks to be able to work on patient care before, during, and post the pregnancy period to reduce risks of these adverse results.

So, to understand it better and work around the issue, FIT spoke to two experts — Dr (Lt Col) Leena N Sreedhar, HOD and Consultant - Obstetrics & Gynaecology, HCMCT Manipal Hospitals, Dwarka, and Dr Mokshadayini S, Consultant Reproductive Genomics, Medgenome.

Here's all you need to know.


 Why does a person’s BMI matter while carrying a child?

It's very important right from when a person plans their child.

"Patients who are having a low BMI – anything less than 18, have a higher chance of having a baby which has low birth weight or developing fetal growth restriction in days to come," says Dr (Lt Col) Leena N Sreedhar.

"They have to be told that it is important that it's necessary to come to a normal level of BMI before they plan a pregnancy."
Dr (Lt Col) Leena N Sreedhar

What are the different ways BMI can affect pregnancy?

According to Dr Mokshadayini S, "Pregnant women with a higher BMI are at greater risk of a variety of pregnancy-related complications such as pre-eclampsia and gestational diabetes"

Maternal weight can make the assessment of fetal size, presentation and external monitoring of fetal heart tracing more challenging during pregnancy, she added.

"Initiation and maintenance of breastfeeding are also more difficult in the women with obesity. And there can be lifelong implications as well."
Dr Mokshadayini S. MBBS, MS (OBG), DNB, PDCC (Maternal and Fetal Medicine), Consultant Reproductive Genomics, Medgenome

"It has also been seen that there is a category of polycystic ovaries syndrome which is seen in lean patients. They have irregular cycles so they can have a higher chance of having ovulatory cycles which can pose a risk to them having a pregnancy," says Dr (Lt Col) Leena N Sreedhar.

As we know that during any normal pregnancy there is an average weight gain of about 10 to 12 kg. So if a woman says is already pushing to 100 kgs and is might put on 10-12 kg during the pregnancy then she is likely to have a lot of these complications. 
Dr (Lt Col) Leena N Sreedhar, HOD and Consultant - Obstetrics & Gynaecology, HOD, department of academics & research

How can one manage BMI during their pregnancy?

"During pregnancy a balanced diet is important. A balanced diet is stressed everywhere no matter what group it is. Normal simple food that is available to any class of society is very balanced."
Dr (Lt Col) Leena N Sreedhar, HOD and Consultant - Obstetrics & Gynaecology, HOD, department of academics & research, HCMCT Manipal Hospitals, Dwarka

Have dal, chappati, and vegetables which are inexpensive and available for everyone. Additionally, it is important to take at least 1 cup of milk which is a good source of calcium. For iron sources, we have palak, methi, and channa, if you are vegetarian.

Dr (Lt Col) Leena N Sreedhar concludes, "A balanced diet is a must. One doesn't have to go for dietary advice unless a person is diabetic during pregnancy, have renal problems, or has any other complications which require a special diet."

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Topics:  weight   BMI 

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