Plus Size Pregnancy
Ideally if you're trying to get pregnant, you shouldn't be overweight. There are more risks associated with a plus-size pregnancy than a pregnancy of an average-sized woman. But any woman of any size can have a healthy pregnancy and healthy babies.
Finding Non-biased Treatment
Unfortunately, there is some bias in the medical community against overweight women becoming pregnant and carrying healthy babies to term. There is some basis for this bias. Numerous medical studies have proven there is a higher health risk to both mother and developing baby is the mother is overweight. Risks include, but aren't limited to, gestational diabetes and pregnancy induced hypertension.
It's important that plus size women get the appropriate medical help they need if they want to get pregnant or are already pregnant. Just as someone with high cholesterol seeks (or should seek) appropriate medical care then so should an overweight mother-to-be.
Seek someone who is willing to work with you to help you give birth to a healthy child. Avoid any physician who discourages you from getting pregnant or who encourages you to terminate your pregnancy just because you're overweight. Choose a healthcare provider who makes you aware of the risks and helps you work around them, if possible.
Watch out for subtle bias. A good way to figure out if your practitioner has a bias against larger pregnant women is to ask about if there are any tests you will require because of your size. There will be certain conditions that need to be addressed in heavier women that may not be as big of a concern in non plus-sized women. But a warning signs of bias include if your practitioner believes early induction will be necessary, insists on lots of extra tests, or recommends unusually rigid nutrition and weight gain guidelines.
There are some physicians who discourage vaginal births in overweight women claiming that they're much more dangerous to the health of both the baby and the mother. These physicians strongly push c-sections. This procedure isn't always necessary and in some cases they can be more risky for larger women.
A report in Obstetrics and Gynecology says that surgical births cause an increase in wound problems, more infections, and a higher risk of severe bleeding and higher rates of anesthesia problems in obese women. Some studies connect c-sections in women of any size to future reproductive problems, increased rate of placental problems and decreased fertility.
According to What Every Pregnancy Woman Needs to Know About Cesarean Birth from Childbirth Connection, c-sections also increase health risks for the baby, regardless of the size of the mother. Compared to babies born vaginally, those born by cesarean section have more respiratory problems during the newborn period. They're more likely to experience asthma throughout their childhood and even into their adult years. Some studies suggest that babies born by c-section have a harder time establishing breastfeeding.
The good news is that there are things you can do to avoid one including choosing the right type of doctor and being proactive about your health.
Even with precautions a c-section might be necessary. A woman of size needs slightly different treatment. Ask for extra sutures on the fat layer since many studies show this significantly reduces the risk of infection in larger women. Make sure you get weight-based dosing of antibiotics as another way to reduce the chance of infection.
Just because you're a plus-size woman doesn't give you an excuse not to get regular exercise and practice good nutrition. Pregnancy is not the time to lose weight. But you can greatly reduce your risk for gestational diabetes and blood pressure problems by exercise and eating well.