In ideal maternal weight gain during pregnancy is essential for the well-being of both the mother and her baby. An improper weight gain can be disastrous to them both.
Maternal weight is a good index of the health of both the mother and her unborn baby. Improper weight during pregnancy means that the mother could be overweight or underweight or even have no weight gain at all when checked at regular antenatal checkups. Unless the mother has an ideal weight all through her pregnancy, the lives of both mother and her baby are in peril.
An overweight mother is in danger of developing pregnancy hypertension and diabetes. Hypertension in itself or through causing pre-eclampsia hinders the baby’s normal growth so that the baby is either born with low birth weight or may even die inside the womb. Pre-eclampsia, a serious condition peculiar only to pregnancy, can lead to the dreaded eclampsia which can put the baby’s life in jeopardy. . Diabetes, if not brought under control, causes the baby to become unusually large in size, causing its death inside the womb or soon after birth. An excessive weight gain due to indulging in fattening foods and overeating also cause large babies. Complicated delivery of big babies has both the mother and the baby in danger of losing their lives.
An underweight mother for any period of gestation puts her bafy’s life in danger. She may be underweight due to inadequate intake of food. Some loss of weight in early pregnancy is acceptable which should be regained by the end of the 3rd month. Thereafter, she must consistently gain weight appropriate for that period of gestation. She may also not gain weight if her baby has a severe congenital anomaly or if she or someone in her immediate neighborhood is regularly smoking or if she regularly has an insufficient food intake.
If the mother’s weight is stationary during two consecutive antenatal visits, this is a cause of concern too. Such situation indicates that the baby inside the womb has stopped growing. If the mother is not given proper care at this time, it is likely she may lose the baby. Thus, no gain in maternal weight in two consecutive can prove fatal to the baby if immediate and appropriate action is not taken.
Bringing up a low birth weight baby is a strain on the mother and on the family’s economy. Thus, the expectant mother should have regular antenatal checkups with her doctor maintaining the right BMI.