Maintaining Nutrition and Weight: A Reliable Approach to Pregnancy Planning?
Having an ideal and healthy body weight before getting pregnant is one of the best ways to ensure a smooth and healthy pregnancy. Moreover, women with an ideal body weight find it easier to achieve pregnancy and give birth to a healthy baby. Furthermore, women who are accustomed to consuming a balanced and nutritious diet during pregnancy will find it easier to shed weight after childbirth.
Why is it important to have an ideal body weight before getting pregnant?
Attaining an ideal body weight before pregnancy is crucial. This is because both excess and insufficient body weight before pregnancy can pose health risks to both the mother and the fetus. Numerous studies have confirmed that a mother’s pre-pregnancy body weight directly influences the birth weight of the baby.
Specifically, here are the effects of pre-pregnancy body weight on women’s fertility, as well as maternal and infant health:
Effects of Excess Weight (Overweight) or Obesity:
Excessive body weight or obesity in women can impact fertility by causing hormonal imbalances, ovulation disorders, and menstrual irregularities. Obesity is also associated with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), which is a common cause of difficulty in conceiving.
Additionally, both overweight and obese conditions generally complicate assisted reproductive techniques such as in vitro fertilization (IVF), ovulation induction, and others.
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During pregnancy, being overweight before conception increases the risk of various pregnancy complications for the mother, such as gestational diabetes, pregnancy-induced hypertension, preeclampsia, vascular blockages, and the need for a cesarean section. Babies born to overweight or obese mothers are at a higher risk of neural tube defects, macrosomia (large head) which complicates delivery, prematurity, and stillbirth. Moreover, babies born to obese mothers are also at a higher risk of obesity and various health issues later in life.
Effects of Insufficient Weight (Underweight):
Conversely, being underweight (BMI below 18.5 kg/m2) disrupts women’s fertility by triggering hormonal imbalances that affect ovulation. This directly reduces the chances of conception. Compared to women with an ideal body weight, underweight women tend to take more than a year to achieve pregnancy. This is partly due to a lower implantation rate in this group of women.
If successfully pregnant, prospective mothers with insufficient body weight are at a higher risk of anemia and miscarriage. The fetus is more likely to experience growth disorders (intrauterine growth restriction/IUGR), low birth weight, and premature birth. In the long term, babies born to underweight mothers are at a higher risk of malnutrition.
So, how can you determine whether a body weight is ideal or not?
One of the most common ways to assess ideal body weight is through calculating the body mass index (BMI). This parameter is calculated by dividing the body weight (in kg) by the square of the height (in meters).
BMI = Body Weight (kg) / [Height (m)]2
The resulting BMI value is then used to determine an individual’s nutritional status. According to the latest World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines, the classification of nutritional status based on BMI for adult Asians (>20 years old) is as follows:
|Body Mass Index (kg/m2)||Nutritional Status|
|25-29.9||Obesity Class 1|
|>30||Obesity Class 2|
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