Being overweight can lead to complications for mother and child, such as blood clots and birth defects.
Almost half of pregnant women in the UK are now obese or overweight, a figure RCM CEO Gill Walton said she was “very concerned” by.
Back in 1990, only a third of pregnant women were overweight or obese, and this change makes maternity care more demanding.
NHS Choices says women whose Body Mass Index (BMI) shows they are obese have a higher risk of miscarriage, blood clots, and birth defects in their child.
Ms Walton said another major issue is the increased likelihood of type 2 diabetes in overweight and obese women. This means they need more care and scans and have a greater risk of needing a caesarean section. Studies have also shown that poorly controlled blood sugar in pregnant mothers, also more likely with diabetes, increases the baby’s chances of being born with a congenital heart defect.
A study in the journal eLife shows heart cells exposed to high levels of glucose matured more slowly, or not at all, showing high blood sugar impacts both mother and child.
A major report on obesity last month found that British women have the second highest rates of obesity (behind Turkey) in Europe; 29.2 per cent are obese.
According to The Sunday Times, Ms Walton said: “If we have an increase in diabetes, women with diabetes need more care, they need more scans, they potentially need more care when they are in labour – they potentially then end up needing caesarean sections.”
However, a UK study published last month shows that nurses and midwives are more likely to be obese than the national average.