Are you a heavy mum-to-be? Here's what you should know about your impending labour

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The weight gained by an expecting heavy mum cannot be ideal, since every pregnancy is different. However, it should not be above 30 BMI.

Last week, India woke up to an unusual piece of news. A Karnataka teen mum had just delivered a baby girl weighing a whopping 6.8 kilos! The mother herself weighed 94 kilos and was 5'9'' tall.

While many called this a miracle, since the mother and the baby were both healthy, a newborn weighing more than 4 kilos is certainly not normal.

Most experts say that a heavy baby is a result of high blood pressure or a serious condition of diabetes or obesity in the mother.

We spoke to Dr Harpreet Kaur Isher, consultant, Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Paras Bliss Hospital, Panchkula; about the complications related to having a heavy baby and its effect on the mother and the newborn.

Heavy mother = heavy baby?

Women who gain large amounts of weight during their pregnancy or are gestational diabetes mellitus are susceptible to deliver heavy babies.

"Large women may not always deliver large babies, but there is a high possibility that they will. That's because obesity in general leads to several other complications including high blood pressure (HBP). So if women are obese and have HBP then there is a possible chance they will deliver big babies. In fact, most women who suffer from HBP also give birth to children who have restricted growth," explains Dr Isher.

Ideal weight gain during pregnancy

"The weight gained by an expecting mother cannot be ideal, since every pregnancy is different. However, since it is based on the Body Mass Index (BMI), which is measure by the weight and height of a person, it should not be above 30 BMI," says Dr Isher.

She adds that it is normal for women to gain anything between 10 kilos to 13 kilos during pregnancy. "If an expecting mother is almost 40 kilos, the I wouldn't mind her to be 60 kilos. But if she is already 100 kilos gaining even 15 more kilos could be dangerous to her and the baby," she adds.

Ideal weight of a newborn

Dr Isher points that the 'ideal' weight of a baby can only be determined by the duration of the pregnancy.

"For instance, if a baby is pre-term and was born at the eight month and weights 3.5 kilos, he/she is overweight. However, in a normal delivery of a full-term baby who is about 37 weeks, 2.5 kilos will be an ideal weight," she explains, adding that if a full-term baby is over 4 kilos, he/she is overweight or is macrosomia.

Continue reading to know how you may putting your baby at risk if you are overweight.

Dangers of being a big mother

Obesity is dangerous irrespective of gender, however, if you are obese and an expecting mother, you could be posing many dangers to yourself and your unborn child. Dr Isher, consultant, Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Paras Bliss Hospital, Panchkula; lists the following complications that an over-weight expecting mother could face.

  • It increases the chances of miscarriage and also abortion
  • It increases the chances of neural defects in the unborn child
  • Obese women are at higher risk of developing HBP and diabetes, especially if the woman has a family history of the two
  • Diabetes due to obesity could in turn lead to high blood sugar and this could lead to defects in the baby's spine and even its tummy
  • Obesity and diabetes could also lead to preterm labour
  • Women who have high BMI do not 'behave' well during labour. They either go through preterm labour or have prolonged labour or may not have normal contractions
  • Antenatal care for obese women is also extremely difficult. "Since there is a layer of fat covering the body, one has to rely on frequent ultrasounds," says Dr Isher.
  • Obese women also have a higher chance of going in for a cesarean section and this could lead to an infection during labour
  • Obese women may also develop blood clots
  • Obese women out their child at the risk of trapping the shoulder under the mother's pelvic bones. This can damage the nerves in his/her neck, or break his collarbones or even arms.
  • Obese women may face complications in later pregnancies

"There is a concept called genetic programming, wherein we know that whatever the mother feeds or takes in directly impacts the child. Similarly, if she is overweight, it will directly impact the baby and the baby may become obese and may develop HBP and diabetes in his later stages," informs Dr Isher.

She adds that obesity also leads to restricted growth in the unborn child, thereby, making it one of the most dangerous health conditions for an expecting mother.

Delivery of a heavy baby

A heavy mother can just as easily have a normal delivery.

"While a thin patient may have smooth labour without any complications, a heavy mother may develop complications due to abnormal contractions or in case of two large twins," says Dr Isher. She however, adds that although there could be chances of a cesarean section, it is always best to go for vaginal labour.

"A vaginal delivery is any day better than a cesarean section because natural is the most preferred and most beneficial to both- the mother and the baby. A surgery may increase the overall risk of complications," she adds.

Things to remember post delivery

If you had a big baby or are yourself a big mum, then Dr Isher lists a few things you must remember to do:

  • Women should become more focussed to lose weight
  • Be aware of the health issues that accompany obesity
  • Get checked on a yearly basis for blood sugar and blood pressure
  • Obese mothers could also face issues with lactation, so breastfeed as much as possible, it will also help you lose weight
  • Start a diet that is nutritious and help you lose weight
  • If you had a normal delivery, start light exercises after six weeks
  • If you underwent a cesarean section, start light exercise after two to three months

Remember, being overweight could not only affect your health but also the health of your unborn child. So understand your issues, discuss with your doctor and work towards your own betterment.

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