Obesity in Pregnancy

4 min read
Obesity in Pregnancy

Are you a bit worried about putting on a bit of podge when you’re pregnant? Obesity in pregnancy is a growing problem in Australia. With more than 60% of Australian adults overweight or obese, it’s easy to see why there is cause for concern, as so many women are already overweight before they become pregnant, only to gain even more weight whilst cooking their bun in the oven.

Obesity in pregnancy is now one of the most significant challenges in obstetric care. Approximately 50% of women who become pregnant are either overweight or obese , according to their BMI. Adding to this situation is the lack of understanding amongst some women as to the recommended weight gain. Many women gain too much weight during their pregnancy and do not lose it after the baby is born. This increases the risks in future pregnancies.

What’s So Bad About It?

Being obese before you get pregnant carries it’s own health risks, but these risks increase when you become pregnant. These include:

  • The risk of pre-eclampsia doubles in overweight women and triples in obese women.
  • Overweight women have twice the likelihood of developing gestational diabetes and obese women carry eight times the risk, compared with women of healthy weight.
  • Increased likelihood of Obstructive Sleep Apnoea
  • A woman who is obese is more than twice as likely to have a miscarriage as a woman of healthy weight. There is twice the risk that her baby will not survive her pregnancy.
  • During delivery, there can be issues with anaesthesia administration, positioning on hospital beds, difficulty maintaining breathing
  • Post Delivery, there is increased rates of wound infection and delayed healing  
  • Increased occurrence of Postnatal depression
  • Increased risk of long term neonatal consequences, including excessive infant weight gain, child obesity

The risks of being overweight or obese during pregnancy don’t only relate to mothers but also contribute to a rise in the rates of birth defects, stillbirths and late foetal deaths. Infants born to obese women are more likely to be large for their age, need neonatal intensive care or have a congenital abnormality.

Associate Professor Teale of Melbourne University was recently interviewed in The Australian newspaper stating “We have become very strongly aware that the chance of achieving a terrible outcome like a stillbirth or death of a baby in the first month of life is very, very strongly linked to being overweight or obese.” According to Assoc Prof Teale, the risks associated with obesity in pregnancy are at least as bad as the risks of smoking during pregnancy and the significant rates of obesity in the study raised questions about whether obesity contributed to an increased risk of stillbirths or deaths of infants in the first month. Maternal mortality was also higher among obese and overweight women, he said.

Another significant factor is obese women who experience complicated births have longer hospital stays, which stretch already tight hospital resources.

A study of pregnant women in rural South Australia found about 55% were overweight or obese, while Queensland Health recently reported at least 25% of pregnant women were overweight or obese in all of Queensland.

According to experts, obesity should be given the same attention as other health issues in pregnancy including smoking.


Obesity risk in Rural pregnancies (2013) : The study reviewed a total of 6138 pregnancies from January 2005 to December 2010 at Goulburn Valley Health, where about 1100 babies are delivered annually.

Queensland Health

The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists

Krissy Hacker is a wife and SAHM of 2, expecting a 3rd whose arrival is eagerly awaited so she can return to drinking wine and have a husband who speaks to her again. A mad gardening, crafting and baking lady, she loves reviving old school ways of doing things and would do anything to get out of housework!

About Author

Jody Allen

Jody is the founder and essence of Stay at Home Mum. An insatiable appetite for reading from a very young age had Jody harbouring dreams of being a pu...Read Moreblished author since primary school. That deep-seeded need to write found its way to the public eye in 2011 with the launch of SAHM. Fast forward 4 years and a few thousand articles Jody has fulfilled her dream of being published in print. With the 2014 launch of Once a Month Cooking and 2015's Live Well on Less, thanks to Penguin Random House, Jody shows no signs of slowing down. The master of true native content, Jody lives and experiences first hand every word of advertorial she pens. Mum to two magnificent boys and wife to her beloved Brendan; Jody's voice is a sure fire winner when you need to talk to Mums. Read Less

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