Obesity is, unfortunately, very common and still rising all over the world, especially in developed countries. Obesity that was present before pregnancy is one of the most common factors of risk for the pregnancy, delivery and the health of the newborn.
Moderate obesity increases the risk of hypertension and diabetes during pregnancy, and the risk increases with the weight. Obese women have a bigger chance of having to have a cesarean section than others and they are more likely to have anesthetic and post-op complications following the C-section.
Complications of infants, like neural tube defects, obesity and low Agars scores, have a greater chance of occurring if the mother is overweight.
The negative effects of pregravid pregnancy extend even to the practical area- in most hospitals, costs and expenses of the delivery and stay are higher for obese women. Babies of overweight mothers require admission to intensive care after birth more often.
As for the premature birth, some studies have shown that the risk of very premature birth in obese women is bigger if they have not previously given birth. Obese mothers who already have children are not at higher risk. Also, the risk of premature birth is higher in women who are very lean or underweight.
Obese women more often need induction of labor and they are more likely to need a C-section. This is usually due to prenatal complications like obesity-related cephalopelvic disproportion (when the baby’s head or other parts of body cannot fit through the pelvis), fetal distress or stagnation of labor.
Possible complications that are more frequent in obese women after delivery are blood loss, endometritis (the inflammation of the lining of the uterus) and increased time needed for the surgery.
There is a higher possibility of some postnatal complications as well. Obese women are more prone to urinary complications like incontinence or urgency.
There are also risks for the baby. Babies born from obese mothers are more likely to be obese at one year of age and later in life. If a mother has high blood pressure during pregnancy, the child is at higher risk of illnesses during childhood. A study shown that children whose mothers had preeclampsia (pregnancy-induced hypertension) in pregnancy are more likely to have high blood pressure.
However, genetic factors are just as responsible for development of obesity in children. A study observed overweight children and came to conclusion that the obesity of adopted children was result of obesity of their natural parents rather than their foster parents.