Dr. Wilkes St. Clair
Word count: 1,488
Effects of Obesity on Pregnant Women
Obesity is a major health challenge affecting women of reproductive age worldwide
(Poston et al., 2011). Most developing countries struggle with the effects of obesity on
reproductive women, which has been linked to affecting pregnancies due to poor nutrition. Lack
of good health practices exposes the offspring to vulnerable health conditions, either genetically
or due to poor nutrition. Obesity is characterized by having a body mass index (BMI) higher than
30, based on height and weight. According to research, 15 to 20 percent of pregnant women are
obese, experiencing both short and long-term adverse problems during pregnancy (Khadilkar,
2019). Effects of obesity on pregnant women arise due to adverse conditions such as high blood
pressure. This increases the chances of miscarriages and slows down the healing after cesarean
sectioning (Malaskeiskavia et al., 2021). Gestational obesity can affect fetal development and
result in genetic abnormalities, preeclampsia, and fetus death if not managed in time.
Obesity causes reproductive dysfunction which leads to infertility in some women.
Accumulation of fatty acids, follicular fluid insulin, and oxidized low-volume lipoproteins
contribute to oocyte growth interruptions (Nelson et al., 2021). However, it has undesirable
impacts on implantation and live births (Catalano et al., 2017). Research has confirmed that
obesity increases the chances of a miscarriage occurring at the late pregnancy stages (Saadia,
2020). Obesity causes infertility by changing how a woman’s body stores sex hormones by
converting androstenedione to estrone, which changes the brain’s metabolism to control ovarian
functioning. Still, during the first trimester, insulin reduction can be used to regulate cholesterol
homeostasis and cell cycle in an overweight woman’s placenta tissue. An overweight female’s
placenta is categorized by an upsurge in overall lipid amount and growth of pro-inflammatory
mediators and macrophages than with regular-weight females (Catalano & Shankar, 2017).
Obese females experience low levels of plasma, progesterone, and placenta concentration are
always low, which exposes the mother to miscarriages. Miscarriages are caused due to response
to high absorptions of insulin, leading to altered genes related to mitochondrial steroid hormone
production and fat metabolism. Therefore, obesity is the main cause of infertility and
miscarriages in women of reproductive age.
Furthermore, during the prenatal period, the fetus grows and develops accompanied by
several anatomical processes. A decrease in insulin sensitivity happens during gestation, with
overweight women experiencing severe sensitivity reduction (Lahti-Pulkkinen, 2019). Reduction
in insulin levels causes an increase in several amino acids and lipids, which are harmful to the
fetus. Antepartum problems increase the chances of premature delivery during pregnancies,
labor, and endometritis. Delivery also contains binary trouble with a complex degree of
pregnancy injury and neonatal morbidity. Maternal BMI is inversely proportional to the
prolonged labor hours in females who have never given birth (Carlhäll, 2018). Those who are
severely overweight have an increased possibility of suffering from hypotension and adverse
heart failure frequency, slowing down after regulating epidural bolus treating and hypertensive
conditions than regular-weight females. Therefore, disruption of the anatomical processes during
pregnancy leads to a decrease in insulin sensitivity, which increases premature delivery chances.
Consequently, obesity and anesthesia damage respiratory functioning in pregnant women.
Obesity affects anesthesia by causing sleep apnea which temporarily affects breathing while
sleeping. Excessive deposition of fats on the neck, chest, and abdomen affects normal breathing
patterns due to hormones that affect the respiratory system, which affects the part of the brain
that controls breathing. Furthermore, there are several hindrances to successful breastfeeding in
obese females due to low prolactin hormones. Effects include physical challenges of
considerable size, high risks of birth through surgery, and newborns regularly require to be
assessed in unique maintenance nurseries (Filippi, 2015). Newborns experience a decrease in
milk production, but it does not affect the mother not to breastfeed. Breastfeeding is essential due
to the postpartum mass decrease and reduced danger of diabetes in overweight females who
develop gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM). Therefore, obesity affects anesthesia by
temporarily affecting the respiratory system, which causes sleep apnea. Obesity also affects
breastfeeding in obese women due to lower levels of prolactin which delay lactogenesis II.
Additionally, maternal obesity and insulin resistance lead to increased adiposity in
pregnant women. Neonates born to overweight females have a high chance of overgrowth due to
high umbilical cord concentrations of fats than lean mothers and have more insulin resistance
(Guzman-Barcenas et al., 2016). Females’ placenta weight has the toughest association with
neonatal fat weight. Pre-conceptional obesity results in weight gain in women approaching
childbirth. Increase in weight causes risks like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and metabolic
syndrome. Also, overweight female experiences unnecessary gestational weight gain (WGW),
which increase incidences of neonatal and maternal complications (Suliga et al., 2018). Pregnant
women experience weight gain between 6 to 12 months due to extreme gestational weight gain,
contributing to adverse health outcomes after birth (JAMA, 2019). Therefore, maternal obesity is
the main cause of increased adiposity in pregnant women. Women approaching birth experience
weight gain due to pre-conceptional obesity, exposing them to risks of developing diabetes,
cardiovascular diseases, and metabolic syndrome.
In addition, a lack of a balanced diet affects the provision of nutrients during pregnancy if
not well regulated. Effective management of overweight during pregnancy requires sufficient
nutrients with reduced calories (Zhenyu, 2012). Women must be informed before pregnancy on
the effects of unhealthy lifestyles and lack of exercise to reduce the chances of complications and
diseases like osteoarthritis and sleep apnea. Physicians should ensure pregnant women receive
nutritional consultation when they begin attending clinical checkups to regulate and balance
nutritional requirements (Arabin & Stupin et al., 2014). Therefore, a lack of a balanced diet in
pregnant women by regulating the intake of foods rich in calories increases the chances of the
unborn child experiencing health complications related to obesity.
In fact, an excessive intake of macronutrients increases the amount of starch in the body,
contributing to the development of obesity. The management of the amount of starch that
pregnant women consume is essential in preventing obesity and related complications. Increased
starch consumption affects insulin levels and increases the chances of gestational diabetes
(Gaillard et al.,2020). High consumption of polyunsaturated fats helps by lowering the amount of
LDL cholesterol in the body, which is vital in the protection against heart diseases (king, 2006).
Increased consumption of saturated starch is connected to impaired glucose tolerance growth
(Gaillard et al.,2016. Most women lack other risk factors that expose them to obesity, which
modify fat consumption before and during gestation, which is an effective way to avoid impaired
glucose tolerance. Management of the number of fats and starch being consumed by pregnant
women will positively help regulate the body mass index reducing chances of acquiring obesity
(Octavia et al., 2020). Therefore, excessive intake of foods reaches in starch increases the chance
of acquiring obesity. High starch consumption affects insulin level in pregnant women which
expose them to gestational diabetes. However, high consumption of polyunsaturated fats aids in
lowering the amount of LDL (bad) cholesterol which may increase chances of developing
obesity in pregnant women.
Furthermore, current evidence emphasizes reduced-glycemic bases of fats and increased
fiber while improving polyunsaturated fatty acids and regulating a lot of starch consumption.
Pregnant women suffering from obesity and overweight affect the fetus’s general health, which
results in health complications like heart defects and neural tube defects (O’Reilly et al.,2012).
During the early stages of development, obesity affects the placenta’s efficiency to support the
fetus’s weight, leading to miscarriages. Pregnant women should increase the consumption of
vegetables, rich fiber fruits, and whole grains to maintain weight. Fat intake should be
monitored, and overall starch consumption is maintained within the recommended levels. While
consuming fats, one should choose polyunsaturated fatty acids like nuts, vegetable oils, and fish
and limit saturated fatty acids. Therefore, reducing glycemic fats while increasing uptake of
polyunsaturated fatty acids is an effective way to reduce starch consumption. Consumption of
rich fiber fruits, vegetables, and whole grains during pregnancy aids in weight gain regulation.
To sum up, obesity affects pregnancy in several ways that may cause health
complications to both the mother and the fetus. Obesity and uncontrolled body weight can result
in infertility due to changes in the follicular fluid and ovarian cells surrounding the oocyte.
Furthermore, pre-conceptional obesity and excessive weight gain during pregnancy result in
weight gain in women approaching childbirth, which leads to complications like cardiovascular
disease, diabetes, and metabolic syndrome. However, the improvement of their diet and
participation in various physical exercises will decrease the chances of acquiring obesity.
Furthermore, excessive intake of macronutrients is one of the major causes of obesity. High
levels of macronutrients in the body increases affect insulin levels and increase the chances of
gestational diabetes. Also, reducing the consumption of glycemic bases of fats and increasing
consumption of polyunsaturated fats will protect pregnant women from weight gain
complications. Therefore, reducing foods rich in calories, consuming a balanced diet, and
engaging in daily exercises, are the primary prevention strategies for obesity and overweight in
pregnant women and children.
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