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Obesity is a growing concern in much of Europe, including the UK. Worldwide, 39 per cent of adults aged 18 years and over were overweight. Obesity is defined as a body mass index (BMI) >30 kg/m2. It is estimated that in the UK, approximately 1 in 20 women are obese during pregnancy.

Obesity in pregnancy is associated with a range of problems, including delivery complications and poor fetal outcomes. Obesity increases the risk of gestational diabetes, hypertension, pre-eclampsia, uncertain fetal position, urinary tract infections, postpartum haemorrhage and thromboembolic events. Women who are obese are more likely to require a caesarean section, and their babies are more like to be large or - ironically - small for gestational age.

Ideally, women will attempt to achieve a normal BMI (18.5 - 24.9 kg/m2) before becoming pregnant. However, if overweight or obese when their pregnancy is confirmed they should be given the opportunity to discuss diet and other lifestyle factors from early in pregnancy and at regular intervals thereafter. Routine weighing is not recommended.

The Practising Midwife featured articles

Obesity in pregnancy part 1: prevalence and risks

2012; 15(9): 20 - 23

Author: Frankie Phillips

Obesity in pregnancy part 2: management

2013; 16(1): 26 - 29

Author: Frankie Phillips

Maternal obesity and the importance of nutrition

2015; 18(5): 22 - 26

Author: Ela Yuregir

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