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How big a problem is obesity and pregnancy? Dr. Christina Sullivan weighs in

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MILWAUKEE -- Are you trying to conceive? Maybe you're already a mom-to-be. Either way, it's important to keep tabs on your health -- and a big focus of that is your weight. Dr. Christina Sullivan from Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare joined FOX6 WakeUp to talk pregnancy dos and don'ts.

Pregnancy and obesity:

The taboo against talking frankly about obesity needs to end. Doctors need to be sensitive and patients should not take offense, especially when their health and their children’s health is at stake.
Obesity during pregnancy can increase the risk of complications for both mom and baby. Being obese during pregnancy increases the risk of various pregnancy complications, including:

  • Gestational diabetes
  • Preeclampsia
  • Infection
  • Overdue pregnancy
  • Labor problems
  • C-section
  • Pregnancy loss

Ways to limit the impact of obesity on pregnancy and ensure the health of mom and baby:

  • Schedule a pre-conception appointment
  • Seek regular prenatal care
  • Eat a healthy diet
  • Be physically active
  • Avoid risky substances

Pregnancy and exercise:

Exercise during pregnancy can:

  • Ease or prevent back pain and other discomforts
  • Boost mood and energy levels
  • Improve sleep
  • Prevent excess weight gain
  • Increase stamina and muscle strength

Exercise during pregnancy might also reduce the risk of:

  • Gestational diabetes
  • Pregnancy-related high blood pressure
  • Symptoms of postpartum depression
  • Your baby born significantly larger than average (fetal macrosomia)

Before you begin an exercise program, make sure you have your health care provider's OK. Although exercise during pregnancy is generally good for both mother and baby, your doctor might advise you not to exercise if you have:

  • Some forms of heart and lung disease
  • Pregnancy-related high blood pressure
  • Cervical problems
  • Vaginal bleeding
  • Preterm labor during pregnancy or risk factors for preterm labor
  • A multiple pregnancy

 All in moderation

For most pregnant women 30 minutes of moderate exercise is recommended on most days of the week.

Walking is a great exercise for beginners. Other good choices include swimming, low-impact aerobics and cycling on a stationary bike. Strength training is OK too, as long as you avoid lifting very heavy weights.

Warming up and cooling down is important. Drink plenty of fluids to stay hydrated, and be careful to avoid overheating.

Pregnant women should avoid:

  • Any exercises that force you to lie flat on your back after your first trimester
  • Scuba diving
  • Contact sports
  • Activities that pose a high risk of falling; such as downhill skiing, gymnastics, water skiing, surfing, and horseback riding
  • Exercise at high altitude
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