Big mums risk babies' health

Interested in home birth, hospital birth or Medicare-funded private midwifery care? Questions or comments? Email Melissa Maimann or call 0400 418 448. Link

Pregnant women are packing on too many kilograms, risking their health and that of their babies - and costing the health system a fortune.

A staggering 41.5 per cent of the 7735 women who gave birth at Auckland's National Women's Hospital in 2009 were classed as overweight or obese.

Those with a body mass index (BMI) of more than 25 were considered overweight, while those who exceeded 30 were said to be obese.

... national and international research showed it was a growing problem ...

... Big mums ... were at increased risk of:

* Developing diabetes and other serious pregnancy complications such as pre-eclampsia.

* Having a stillbirth. There is a two-fold increase for obese mothers.

* Needing a caesarean section.

* Breast-feeding problems.

* Having a big baby, which in turn is at risk of becoming an obese child.

... Another concern was a trend in pregnant women, aged under 25, being obese.

... obese mums also had a higher chance of having a baby with an abnormality ...

Nutrition and exercise are the foundations of a healthy pregnancy, healthy birth and healthy baby. In my service. I focus a lot on optimising women's nutrition because it is a modifiable aspect of care that can really make a difference. For women choosing homebirths, I think it's especially important to make really healthy food choices and to exercise most days of the week. I acknowledge that it's really hard to change habits - especially exercise and nutrition habits - so I provide lots of support, guidance and motivational tools to help women work towards health.

Melissa Maimann, Essential Birth Consulting 0400 418 448