Obese Women May Actually Benefit From Weight Loss During Pregnancy

Results from a new study indicate that obese women may actually be able to lose weight during pregnancy without harming themselves or their babies. In fact, the weight loss  could reduce the women’s risk of needing a cesarean section.

While the Institute of Medicine (IOM), an advisory panel to the U.S. government, says that obese women should gain 11 to 20 pounds during pregnancy – which is less than the 25 to 35 pound gain they recommend for normal weight-women – researchers have criticized the panel for not considering different levels of obesity.

In this study, Dr. Marie Blomberg found that severely obese women (those with a BMI of 40 or higher) may benefit from losing weight. The results of the study indicate that severely obese women who lose weight, rather than gain the recommended amount, have less need for C-sections and are less likely to deliver large newborns.

Personally, I totally agree with the study and incorporate its logic into my own practice. I think other practicing obstetricians should definitely take note of the findings. Severely obese women with BMIs greater than 40 should have minimal or no weight gain during pregnancy, providing that they continue to eat a balanced diet necessary to maintain a healthy baby and a healthy mother.

The whole mythology of pregnancy weight gain fixed on just a number has been overturned, and now obstetricians should rightfully focus on the initial weight of an expecting mom and decide the best course of action from there. Mapping out balanced diet and exercise program for these women, as long as there are no other risk factors present, is essential in reducing or even eliminating problems during pregnancy.