Pregnant, Plus-size, And Health Issues

Over half of today's pregnant women are obese and doctors are going to have to deal with the fact that a significant sector of his practice will be plus-size pregnancies.  He will have to be ready to accommodate his patients, no matter their size. A plus-size pregnant woman may have her head filled with dire medical predictions, but receiving good medical care and learning everything there is to know about obesity and pregnancy can ensure a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby.

One plus-sized mother of four, Ann Douglas, author of, "The Mother of All Pregnancy Books," wrote about finding an accepting health care provider, "You want someone who will help you to set weight gain goals for yourself, but who won't make you feel like an unfit mother if you happen to gain an extra pound or two one month."

The Interview

Lots of women go to a first obstetric appointment with a list of questions. The plus-size pregnant woman is no exception, but her questions are going to look a bit different, and may take the form of an interview, rather than a question and answer session about pregnancy and childbirth. For instance, a plus-size pregnant mother may ask her prospective ob/gyn the following:

*How do you feel about your plus-size pregnant patients?

*Are you aware that the needs and emotional issues of plus-size pregnant women differ from those of your other clients?

*Do you have specific guidelines for weight gain in large women during pregnancy?

*Is your scale located in an area away from the eyes of those who would gawk?

*Is your office equipped with plus-sized gowns and blood pressure cuffs?

If you don't like the answers you receive to these questions, try a different doctor. While you want honesty from your health care provider on the subject of risks and necessary precautions, you don't want to feel any scorn coming from the person who is supposed to be on your side. You don't need to be made to feel embarrassment about your size. An upbeat attitude is the one you need to adopt to make the most of your pregnancy.

Prevent Risks

But attitude isn't everything. You need to know the risks and what you can do to prevent them. For example, women who are obese and pregnant tend to have high blood pressure more often than thinner women. Plus-size moms also have a higher risk for gestational diabetes, which may lead to having a larger baby. Both high blood pressure and gestational diabetes increase the risk of delivery by cesarean section.

For the larger baby, a c-section is often performed in order to prevent the risk of injury to both mother and baby that may occur during a vaginal delivery. To ensure that such a situation is avoided, plus-size moms should be screened for gestational diabetes during their first trimesters. If the test results fall into the normal range, testing can be repeated between weeks 24-28. If a plus-sized mom-to-be takes care to control her weight and her doctor monitors the baby's size, she may be able to avoid a c-section.

Another grim fact of plus-size pregnancy is the 30-40% higher chance of having a baby with birth defects. Note that the risk goes way down for babies whose mothers take folic acid supplements.

Reasonable Expectations

Keep in mind that plus-size women should not aim for a pregnancy with no weight gain. Most experts find that a 15-20 pound weight gain falls within the boundary of reasonable expectations, even for a plus-sized mom-to-be.


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