Obesity in Pregnancy


In Australia, obesity in pregnancy is one of the most significant concerns for maternity care clinicians, effecting approximately half of all new pregnancies. The onset of adverse events related to maternal obesity can occur at any stage of pregnancy including preconception, during antenatal care, intrapartum, and postpartum. For Aboriginal people, obesity generally is thought to contribute 16% of the health gap between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and the total Australian population.

Obesity during pregnancy increases the risk of gestational diabetes and therefore the increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. The risks associated with obesity during pregnancy extend beyond the mother to the fetus and neonate as there are increased lifelong risks for some diseases for the child. Midwives, Aboriginal health practitioners, Aboriginal health workers, nurses and doctors involved in maternal health care in Aboriginal health services will regularly provide care to women who are either pregnant or hoping to become pregnant and who are also obese. It is essential that of those providing care understand obesity during pregnancy and how they can assist and advise women in a positive, supportive, and empowering way.

This module is brief and provides an overview of the risks associated with obesity during pregnancy. It is directed at all those involved in the care of women who are pregnant or seeking to become pregnant.

Learning Objectives

At the end of this module participants will be able to:

  • Understand the health risks associated with obesity during pregnancy
  • Understand the impact of maternal obesity on neonates
  • Describe the patient education initiatives that may be taken to assist women who are obese during pregnancy

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