New data has revealed that nearly half of British pregnant women attending their first maternity appointment are overweight or obese.
19% of women who attended their booking-in appointment in October 2015 were overweight, while a further 26% were obese.
The data was provided by the Health and Social Care Information Centre and is based on the findings of 80 maternity service providers, who recorded the BMIs of women throughout the month of October 2015.
Obesity in pregnancy increases the risk of complications for both mothers and their children. Obese women have a higher risk of experiencing pre-eclampsia, urinary tract infections and miscarriage. They can also encounter problems with pain relief in labour, such as epidurals. Meanwhile, their unborn babies are at a higher risk of gestational diabetes and are more likely to have a higher birth weight. Research has also shown a link between a pregnancy obesity and the baby experiencing heart disease and diabetes in adulthood.
Louise Silverton, director of midwifery for the Royal College of Midwives, said: “These latest figures…show how much a growing problem obesity in pregnancy has become. Failing to tackle the causes of obesity has serious consequences for women, families and the population as a whole.”
Lisa Squire is a nurse on a hospital postnatal ward and has experienced this disturbing trend first-hand. She says: “I work very closely with mums and their newborn babies. In the last three years alone I’ve noticed that our patients are getting heavier. In the past it was unheard of for mums not to fit in the beds or chairs on the ward, but there have been a few occasions recently where we’ve had to bring in specialist equipment. It’s a real problem, not only for the mothers themselves, but also for their babies.”
At Broccoli & Brains, we know that losing weight is not as simple as eating less and moving more. Everyone, including pregnant women, needs high quality emotional and practical support to tackle the reasons why they overeat.
Read more on this topic from journalist Tanya Gold, who found herself obese and pregnant.