Why is weight loss before pregnancy important?

Answers from Yvonne Butler Tobah, M.D.

Part of having a healthy pregnancy is focusing on your health before you conceive. Achieving a healthy pre-pregnancy weight can improve your chances of getting pregnant and minimize your risk of pregnancy complications.

Being obese — defined as having a body mass index (BMI) of 30 and higher — can decrease your chances of having normal ovulation. Obesity can also affect the outcome of in vitro fertilization (IVF). As your BMI increases, so does the risk of unsuccessful IVF.

Obesity during pregnancy increases the risk of various pregnancy complications, including:

  • The risk of miscarriage, stillbirth and recurrent miscarriage
  • Gestational diabetes
  • A pregnancy complication characterized by high blood pressure and signs of damage to another organ system, often the kidneys (preeclampsia)
  • Cardiac dysfunction
  • Sleep apnea
  • A difficult vaginal delivery
  • The need for a C-section and the risk of C-section complications, such as wound infections

In addition, your pre-pregnancy BMI will affect recommendations for weight gain during pregnancy. If you have a BMI of 25 to 29.9, your health care provider will recommend gaining 15 to 25 pounds (about 7 to 11 kg). If you have a BMI of 30 or more, your health care provider will recommend gaining 11 to 20 pounds (about 5 to 9 kg).

To lose weight before pregnancy:

  • Schedule a preconception appointment
  • Eat a healthy diet
  • Consider talking to a registered dietitian or obesity specialist
  • Get at least 150 minutes a week of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes a week of vigorous aerobic activity, or a combination of moderate and vigorous activity — preferably spread throughout the week

With

Yvonne Butler Tobah, M.D.

April 11, 2018 See more Expert Answers