You’re building the family of your dreams, and you want your pregnancy to go as smoothly as possible. Unfortunately, there are several conditions that can place your pregnancy into a high-risk category, and carrying too much or too little weight certainly qualifies.
When it comes to any pregnancy, knowing your risks is important. As part of our extensive obstetric services, Dr. Fernando Otero and the team here at Women’s Clinic of the Rio Grande Valley provide high-risk obstetrics care, which is designed to help keep both mother and child healthy when they’re facing certain challenges, such as maternal weight issues.
Here’s a look at how your weight can play a role in your pregnancy and in the health of your baby.
Defining a weight problem
While we hesitate to put definitive numbers to a weight problem, in general terms, these numbers can be helpful.
The go-to number in this case is your body mass index (BMI), which estimates your body fat by doing a calculation using your weight and height.
The BMI categories break out like this:
- Below 18.5 — underweight
- 18.5-24.9 — average weight
- 25-29.9 — overweight
- Over 30 — obesity
The BMI numbers that are cause for concern when you’re pregnant are those that are under 18.5 and those that are 30 and higher.
How carrying too much weight affects pregnancy
If you’re carrying too much weight when you go into your pregnancy, you may be at risk for several potentially serious problems, including:
Women who carry too much weight may experience a dangerous rise in their blood pressure during the second half of their pregnancies. More serious is the development of preeclampsia due to gestational hypertension. Preeclampsia can lead to the shutdown of major organs (kidneys and liver), as well as heart attack and stroke.
Women with obesity are more at risk for developing gestational diabetes, a condition in which the glucose levels in your bloodstream rise to problematic levels. This rise can lead to a larger-than-normal newborn (and an increased probability of Cesarean section), and both the mother and child may struggle with ongoing problems with diabetes.
Obstructive sleep apnea
Carrying too much weight can lead to obstructive sleep apnea, which can interfere with your ability to get restorative sleep. This disruption in your sleep can lead to cardiovascular issues, such as hypertension, as well as general fatigue.
While these issues affect your health, carrying too much weight can impact your pregnancy and places your unborn child more at risk for:
- Birth defects
- Preterm birth due to complications
- Macrosomia — a larger-than-normal fetus
As you can see, the effects of having obesity when you’re pregnant are serious, which is why you’ll need a higher standard of care during your pregnancy.
How carrying too little weight affects pregnancy
On the other end of the weight spectrum are expectant mothers who are underweight, which can also lead to serious pregnancy issues, including:
- Preterm delivery
- Low birth weight in your newborn
Mothers who are underweight also have a higher risk of their babies having gastroschisis — a condition in which the baby’s intestines are located outside the body.
If you’re underweight when you enter your pregnancy, we want to carefully guide your weight gain for the health of you and your baby.
Whether you’re carrying too much or too little weight during your pregnancy, it’s paramount that you have an experienced obstetric team in your corner. To learn more about how our high-risk obstetrics can help you successfully navigate your pregnancy, please contact one of our two offices in McAllen or Edinburg, Texas.