she got pregnant in 2014, Lizzy King, 28, of East Lansing,
Mich., gave herself a "lifestyle overhaul." She
started running and lost 50 pounds. She eschewed processed
food and ate her first banana.
became "hyper-aware of the effects of too much weight
gain before and during pregnancy," she said. "That
was fuel to keep exercising and turn down that extra bowl of
result: Kingís pregnancy and childbirth were smooth sailing,
her baby is healthy, and she quickly returned her
every new mom were this conscientious, doctors would not be
alarmed by the effects of obesity on pregnancy. But according
to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 22.1
percent of women giving birth are obese (175-plus pounds for a
5-foot-4 woman) before they become pregnant.
can adversely affect fertility, pregnancy, childbirth,
postpartum recovery and the baby," said Dr. Raul Artal of
the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
getting pregnant can be thwarted by obesity. A common
fertility enemy for obese women is polycystic ovary syndrome,
which can disrupt ovulation.
woman becomes pregnant, obesity increases her chances of
gestational diabetes, hypertension, preeclampsia, long labor,
labor interventions, miscarriage and ultrasound test
can cause macrosomia, having too large of a baby, which in
turn ups a womanís chances of having a cesarean section, and
that is more dangerous than a vaginal birth.
is more problematic for the obese woman, whether she has a
vaginal delivery or C-section.
pregnancy, the obese mom is more likely to hemorrhage and less
able to drop her "baby weight."
recently, researchers said childrenís obesity was primarily
a reflection of a familyís lifestyle. Now they know Momís
excess pounds also affect the babyís propensity toward
obesity by rewiring its brain.
way weíve learned this is by studying babies born to moms
before and after gastric bypass surgery," said Dr. Lisa
Neff, an endocrinologist at Northwestern Medicine in Chicago.
"The babies born after their moms lost weight have fewer
problems associated with obesity themselves."
momís fetus is "bathed in the hormones leptin and
insulin, which control weight," Neff said. "His
brain is programmed for obesity by having different appetite
set (hungry or full) points."
babies have gene mutations that will affect generations to
come," Artal added.
first trimester is especially crucial, according to a 2014
study of 3,000 women by the University of Southampton in
addition to a propensity for obesity, the obese momís baby
is more likely to have a neural-tube or heart defect, be
stillborn or suffer birth injuries.
is more likely to be premature, too, according to the Seattle
Childrenís Hospitalís Global Alliance to Prevent
Prematurity and Stillbirth. Prematurity increases the babyís
chances of becoming obese, so a viscous cycle begins.
in pregnancy is part of a greater societal problem, said
Gerald Celente, publisher of the Kingston, N.Y.-based Trends
used to be one fat kid in the class, and, yes, we said, Ďfat,í"
he said. "Now we have a generation of fat people who have
grown up on junk food, with sedentary lifestyles."
is part of the "I donít care" trend, Celente said.
"The loss of pride and self-respect is endemic."
blame has shifted from "personal responsibility" to
"a community problem," according to a 2014 study of
38,625 adults and 3,518 health-care professionals, said
co-author Diana Thomas, director of the Center for
Quantitative Obesity Research in Montclair, N.J.
the shift, Thomas noted, was the American Medical Associationís
classification of obesity as a "disease" in 2013.
intervention helps. Obese pregnant women who participate in
intensive nutritional diets and exercise in their first
trimesters are less likely to gain excess weight or have
macrosomia, C-sections, preeclampsia or hypertension than
peers with standard prenatal care, according to a 2014 study
by the Capital Medical University in Beijing.
all about education ó not just for pregnant women but also
for the medical community, Neff said.
obese woman should view pregnancy as "a great window of
opportunity to learn from her doctor and make changes,"
said Michael Goran, director of the University of Southern
Californiaís Childhood Obesity Research Center.
achieve mental health. Liza Vismanos, 36, of Los Angeles,
worked with a trainer to get "in shape physically
mentally and spiritually" pre-pregnancy, she said. During
pregnancy, she "gained weight gracefully. Afterward I
lost it because I had gone from the crazy cardio exerciser to
the scale. A normal-weight woman, for example, should gain 25
to 35 pounds during pregnancy, depending on her height,
according to the American College of Obstetricians and
Gynecologists. Obese women should gain 11 to 20 pounds.
to your body. "Just as you stay away from alcohol and
sushi, stay away from sugary beverages, too," Goran said.
Pregnancy is not a time to indulge, according to Artal.
"Just continue to exercise and eat well," he said.
your partner in your exercise-and-diet team.
websites that urge you to dismiss doctorsí warnings, King
said. "Itís fine to be Ďbold and beautiful,í if itís
just you, but itís not fair to the baby," she said.
activity device that reminds you to "keep active all
day," Neff said. "Take the stairs, get off the bus a
stop early, park in a farther spot."
a realistic weight-loss goal, Neff said. "Even five or 10
percent can significantly affect your pregnancy," she
online exercise class from an instructor who has been there,
done that, like Kelly Coffey, 35, of Northampton, Mass., who
became a personal trainer after having gastric-bypass surgery,
then having children.
line, we have only begun to understand the effects of obesity
on pregnancy, the doctors said.
no longer just about losing your post-prego baby bump.
"Itís about taking charge of your health for the sake
of your baby," Coffey tells her students. "Lose the
weight now, before you get pregnant, or Iím going to tell
you to do it before you have another baby."