Pregnancy & Obesity | Denver Center for Bariatric Surgery
Back To Blog

Risks of Getting Pregnant While Morbidly Obese

How obesity can affect pregnancies

By Denver Center for Bariatric Surgery

For women, pregnancy can be an exciting journey and such a miracle. However, the initial excitement of finding out that you’re pregnant can quickly die down if you’re considered obese, as this comes with several risks. If you’re battling obesity and want to get pregnant, it’s pivotal that you are aware of these risks and complications

How does obesity affect pregnancy? 

There are several ways that obesity negatively impacts pregnancy. Obesity will affect both the mother’s health as well as the baby’s. 

Mother’s Health Risks: 

  • Gestational hypertension: Obesity during pregnancy puts you at risk of developing high blood pressure and can lead to serious complications for the rest of the pregnancy as well as when the baby is born. A more serious form of this is preeclampsia, which usually happens in the second half of pregnancy or shortly after birth. This condition causes the mother’s kidney and liver to fail and, in rare cases, seizures, a heart attack and a stroke can happen. It can also cause growth problems for the fetus. 
  • Gestational diabetes: With obesity comes high levels of glucose and this increases the risk of having a large baby which, in turn, increases the chances of cesarean birth and injury to the mother during birth. This problem can persist in the mother and also become a problem in the child, with a greater chance that they will be obese later on in life. 
  • Sleep apnea: This condition causes a person to temporarily stop breathing during sleep. Obesity increases the chances of this happening and, during pregnancy, can cause fatigue and the increased risk of high blood pressure, preeclampsia and heart and lung problems. 

Baby’s Health Risks: 

  • Birth defects: A baby born to an obese mother has an increased risk of having birth defects such as heart and neural tube defects — a defect that results in a problem in the development of the brain or spinal cord. 
  • Trouble with diagnostic tests: You will have a series of scans and tests during pregnancy and your doctor will need to see all angles of the fetus. Having excessive amounts of body fat can make it difficult to flag certain problems with the fetus’s anatomy during your routine ultrasound exams. Specifically, it may be harder to check the fetus’s heart rate. 
  • Preterm birth: Obesity during pregnancy increases the chance of a medically indicated preterm birth, and the baby will not be as fully developed as those born after 39 weeks of pregnancy. There are short-term and long-term health problems associated with this. 
  • Stillbirth: A sad reality is that there is a greater risk of stillbirth the higher the mother’s BMI is.  

What to do if you are obese and considering pregnancy 

If you’re looking to have a baby and are considered obese, it’s critical you endeavor to lose weight first. Whether you see a dietitian for a tailored diet or hire a personal trainer to help you lose weight through exercise, even losing a small amount of weight can greatly reduce the risk of complications both to you and your baby when you’re pregnant. Weight-loss surgery is also a highly effective option that could help you lose weight quickly as well as help you maintain a healthy weight long-term. What’s most important is that you are prioritizing both your health and your baby’s health throughout this journey. 

If bariatric surgery is what you decide to do, we can help! We’re a team of compassionate and experienced professionals with the core goal of helping you live your best, healthiest and happiest life. We would love nothing more than to help you prepare for bringing your baby into the world as safely as possible. Request an appointment with Denver Center for Bariatric Surgery.