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Overweight moms endanger their babies

Dr. Rebecca Jacobi is an OB/GYN and surgeon at the Methodist Physicians Clinic Women's Center. She blogs once a month for livewellnebraska.com. Read more from Jacobi here.

It's no secret: Obesity in the United States is a problem.

More than one-third of U.S. adults, or 36 percent, and 17 percent of children are obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

We see more overweight or obese women at Methodist Physicians Clinic Women's Center who are either hoping to become pregnant or are pregnant, too.

While we celebrate everyone's pregnancy and do all that we can to assure the pregnancy is a healthy one for both mom and baby, being overweight or obese can make that challenging.

If you are overweight, you are at a higher risk for problems for yourself and your baby.

What are the health risks for baby?

• Increased fatty tissue makes it difficult for us to see the baby during ultrasounds. That makes it more difficult to diagnose any problems or determine the size of the baby.

• An overweight woman is more likely to have a large baby. Big babies can be at risk for injuries during delivery and can increase the need for cesarean delivery.

• Stillbirth percentages increase with a higher body mass index (BMI).

What are the health risks for mom?

• Overweight women are more likely to have high blood pressure, which can kick in during the second half of the pregnancy. It can lead to serious complications throughout the pregnancy. A woman with high blood pressure during pregnancy can have issues with her kidneys or other organs and it can result in low birth weight or even early deliver.

• Overweight women are more likely to develop gestational diabetes, or high blood glucose levels, can lead to larger babies and cesarean delivery. Developing gestational diabetes in pregnancy can result in diabetes issues down the road for both mom and child, too. If there is a family history of diabetes, we may screen for gestational diabetes early in the pregnancy.

• Overweight women are more likely to develop preeclampsia, which can cause liver and kidney failure, and in rare situations, a stroke can occur.

Is your weight something we can manage to hopefully avoid these issues? Absolutely!

Prior to becoming pregnant or during the early stages of pregnancy, we will talk about weight gain expectations, the importance of exercise and other actions that will lead to a healthy pregnancy.

We talk with patients who want to have a baby about lowering their BMI before becoming pregnant. For some who need to lose weight, this can be the motivation they need to rid themselves of those extra pounds.

Starting off healthier is best for both mom and baby.

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