We all know maintaining a healthy weight is ideal before and during pregnancy but do we understand the risks of not doing it? Well, apparently not because more than half of expectant mothers are now overweight or obese – and it’s getting worse.
The latest Medibank Better Health Index has revealed almost 60 per cent of expectant mothers are overweight or obese, 10 per cent more than in 2008.
Medibank Medical Director Kevin Cheng says excess weight in pregnancy can be cause for both short and long-term health concerns.
“We are seeing rising levels of obesity at a national level, and it’s even more alarming that this trend is consistent among expectant mothers,” he says.
“Obesity can cause complications for both mother and infant during pregnancy, labour and after the birth, and can put both mother and child at higher risk of developing health issues such as type 2 diabetes later in life.”
He says being overweight put a woman at greater risk of gestational diabetes and complications during birth.
“If you’re in the overweight category, with a BMI of between 25 and 30, and the obese category, which is a BMI of over 30, those are escalating points of increased risk,” he tells The Sydney Morning Herald.
“There’s also a risk of getting gestational diabetes during pregnancy, associated with larger babies, which can obviously cause complications during birth itself.”
Weight can have a huge impact to fertility, Obesity Policy Coalition executive manager Jane Martin tells The Sydney Morning Herald.
“Being overweight can affect your chances of getting pregnant and then having a healthy baby,” Ms Martin said.
“It does that because it causes hormone imbalances and problems with ovulation.”
She says more women are going into pregnancy overweight or obese because not enough is being done to support people to choose a healthy lifestyle.
The index also shows a rise in mothers suffering from antenatal anxiety and depression, with 23.9 per cent of expectant mothers in 2015 compared to just 8.1 per cent in 2010.
At the same time, the index shows the rate of depression among expecting mothers rose almost 5 per cent.
As well as unhealthy foods, there are a number of things women should avoid during pregnancy.