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Look at a typical preconception checklist, and you'll come across items like taking folic acid, eating a healthy diet and... losing weight. That's easy to say, but often not at all that easy to do.

Women are overweight for many different reasons. Some would already have lost the extra weight if a diet and some exercise would have done the trick, while others are actually very happy with their body.

So, should you try to conceive when you are overweight? If you are overweight yourself, I'm very sure that you have already heard plenty of judgmental comments about your wish to become a mom, while you're "fat". (The very word "fat" brings a whole other discussion, and one that we won't have today. I'm aware that plenty of people in the fat acceptance movement prefer the word "fat" to the word "overweight". This post is not about politics, but about you. No judgment here, that's for sure.)

Back to trying for a baby when you're overweight. Should you? I'll say it again. There are plenty of women who just can't seem to lose the extra weight they have, and who have tried almost everything. Even Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, a reproductive condition, can cause you to be overweight. Should you have a baby the way you are, when that's the only weight you'll ever be at or at least, the weight you'll have for the considerable future? Obviously, fat women deserve to be moms just as much as thin women.

Overweight and trying to conceive what are your odds of getting pregnant?

Lots of different factors influence an individual's chances of getting pregnant. Gender (haha), age, general health, hormones, how often they have sex... the list goes on, and on, and on. But yes, your weight is one factor that impacts your odds of conceiving. One study showed that the chance of getting pregnant decreases by four percent for every BMI point, above 29kg/m2. Women who have a BMI between 35 and 40 were found to have a 26 to 43 percent lower chance of getting pregnant naturally than women who have a BMI in the 21-29 range.

You have to take into account that your chance of getting pregnant dramatically decrease as you age. Women who are both overweight and over 35 do not have great odds. And... Lower chances of getting pregnant were found in overweight women who had irregular menstrual cycles (sometimes a sign you are not ovulating) as well as in those women with normal, regular cycles.

Does this mean you can't get pregnant naturally? Of course not! Many overweight women get pregnant naturally without problems. But this is something you will undoubtedly want to be aware of, so that you can seek medical assistance if necessary. In any case, you will want to have a general preconception checkup before you start trying to get pregnant. Weight is one thing that WILL come up. Your doctor may be prejudiced toward fat people. If you feel bad, obviously look for another doctor. But do listen to sane suggestions. 

What effect does being overweight have on a pregnancy?

How does being overweight or obese affect you and your baby once you do become pregnant? To start with, you will want to know there are different guidelines as to how much weight you should gain during your pregnancy. Women with a BMI within the recommended range are expected to gain about 35 pounds on average. Those who have a BMI between 25 and 30 should gain between 15 and 25 pounds, while those with a BMI of 30 or over (obese) should gain between 11 and 20 pounds. Gain more than that, and you will have a significantly higher risk of such pregnancy complications as gestational diabetes. You may gain less, though, especially if you are obese. Recent studies show that it is safe to lose weight during pregnancy if you are overweight or obese, and that you may go on a responsible weight loss diet, guided by a nutritionist. Remember that every woman who is medically able to should work out regularly during pregnancy. If you are only just starting to work out, do consult your doctor about the best exercises for you. Generally, starting off slowly is best. Since you are at a higher risk of certain pregnancy complications, your pregnancy will most likely be classed as high risk. This means more frequent prenatal appointments and closer monitoring, to make sure you and the baby are OK. 

  • Photo courtesy of Tobyotter
  • Photo courtesy of Tobyotter

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