Doctors warn obese women trying to have a baby: ‘Lose the weight or face complicated risks’

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – Health experts say losing weight before getting pregnant is an increasing priority for infant health.

The topic will be featured in the Labor of Love Summit with the state health department on Wednesday.

“Obesity in pregnancy is a growing problem not only in our country, but here in Indiana,” said Dr. Tovah Buikema, a gynecologist at Ascension St. Vincent.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says nearly 30% of all pregnancies are complicated by obesity.

Obesity is defined by having a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 30 or higher.

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Indiana saw about a 6% increase in pre-pregnancy obesity between 2011 and 2014.

According to Dr. Buikema, risks include macrosomia, preterm birth, IUFD, preeclampsia and gestational diabetes.

The baby’s risks include heart disease, Spina bifida, cleft lip and cleft palate.

“This is a health concern that should be treated like any other chronic disease. If you’re overweight, you should talk to your doctor about the risks associated with being obese while pregnant,” said Dr. Buikema.

It’s a subject providers are often nervous to bring up with their patients.

“It’s often a self-blame situation,” Dr. Buikema said.

Still, having a healthy baby is a big motivator.

Dr. Buikema says when women are faced with the issue and risks, most are willing to make changes to their diet and health.

“Ideally it’s best to have these conversations before getting pregnant during the family planning stage,” she continued.

She advises obese women who are pregnant to speak with a specialist to appropriately lose the weight while keeping baby healthy.

During the Labor of Love Summit, WISH TV’s own Brooke Martin will be speaking about her experience with infant loss.

But, anyone interested in the topic can follow along on social media with the hashtag #INlaboroflove.