Being obese and pregnant is worse than you think

Posted on April 2, 2018

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(Last Updated On: April 2, 2018)

The CDC recently came out with,

Prevalence and Trends in Prepregnancy Normal Weight

In the last ~five years, we’ve continued to increase the proportion of women who begin pregnancy at an unhealthy weight. 55% now start their pregnancy in a disadvantaged position.

-> The point of this post is not to pick on women. Men are no help in this situation, but the child doesn’t come out of them.

I have a pregnancy series where I’ve detailed many issues with being heavier. I want to hit on some other points.

First, since writing that series this has only gotten worse. You can see it statistically and, if you’re around that crowd, through life experience. Since I’ve now had a child and been around a lot of pregnant women -they tend to congregate through classes and such- I’ve been alarmed at not only how heavy many are (and their husbands), but how many women (and men) in their 30s now on blood pressure medication.

I’m eight years into full-time personal training. Personal training lends itself to an older clientele. Those in their 20s don’t have any money. People in their early 30s have some, but not much disposable income. Younger people aren’t as health conscious to begin with.

-> Which is a concern. How many youngins have high blood pressure but don’t know it because they don’t go to a doctor?

Even so, I’ve trained quite a few younger people. I’ve had some mention they were having trouble, but now I’m more and more hearing people on medication. I wasn’t even sure a person could get to that point in only 30 years. Like arthritis. You just don’t see it until certain ages.

Rates do appear to have gone up. In the early 2000s, we were around 6% of 20-34 year olds having high blood pressure. Now we’re at 9. In about 10 years we went from almost 1 out of 20, to almost 1 out of 10.

I’m 31. I’m well aware everybody already hates my generation. We’re unnecessarily shit on. I’m also big on empathy. Just yelling at someone to change a habit is rarely productive. But we need to berate the point here- we’re talking largely self-imposed health issues in young people. No kids. Endless free time. Minimal joint problems where there isn’t any chronic pain preventing activity. To have chronic health issues is fucking insane. This is pure sloth. “Waa, I wanna watch Netflix for the 30th hour this week.”

-> I concede corporate America does not help, at all. If it’s less metabolically costly, it’s probably a business opportunity, unfortunately. Rather than carry your luggage you can wheel it, but soon you won’t even have to do that! (Amazon is the king of this.)

Second, once you’re around a pregnant woman, you learn about all kinds of problems you never knew about. This is my big worry. Many think nothing of higher blood pressure, or being heavier, until something happens. You get rushed to the ER? Well, you always knew being heavier wasn’t great, but suddenly you know it’s not great.

There is nothing like having a child and being rushed to the NICU. A level of fear takes over which you did not know existed within you. No matter the situation, you start rushing through your head like “Oh my god, what did we do? Was there something we missed? Did we do something wrong? Could we have done something better?” Then you get in that NICU and realize you are useless. Life is out of your hands. Your first moment as a parent is complete futility.

I cannot emphasize to potential new parents enough, you do not want to have your kid go to the NICU and realize “That whole pregnancy weight / blood pressure issue is something we did have control over.”

Furthermore, when it comes to having a child survive, if you are in the United States, out of developed countries, you are in the worst country.

Credit: https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr63/nvsr63_05.pdf

Not just for the baby; for the mother too. Maternal mortality, America? Again. The. Worst. Here’s a congratulations-you’re-pregnant! read for you:

The Last Person You’d Expect to Die in Childbirth

As that article details, preeclampsia -high blood pressure during latter pregnancy- often leads to premature delivery, which equals NICU. The more overweight you are? Already have high blood pressure before getting pregnant? The greater odds you get preeclampsia.

And if you do make it out of the birthing process? Hey, survival wise, you’re still in the worst country for your child. America is exceptional, but not always in the ways we want. 75% worse than the average:

Source: https://www.healthaffairs.org/doi/10.1377/hlthaff.2017.0767

For a country with so much money, our childcare numbers are embarrassing. We have a lot of work to do. Compounding the issue is it’s something I don’t think many are aware of, until a major life event happens. I sure didn’t know any of these numbers until starting the pregnancy process. Many just assume, “Hey, ‘Murica, I’m sure the birth will work out smoothly.” Not realizing if you wanted to be in the most dangerous (non third world) place, you’d pick the United States. Off wifey goes, “I’m eating for two.” (While hubby has “sympathy hunger.”) Meanwhile, have high blood pressure when you start pregnancy? You’re automatically considered high risk.

-> Increasing the odds you go on bed rest / miss work, meaning more financial stress, with stress obviously not being good for anybody.

As a future pregnant woman / future significant other of a pregnant woman, one of the easiest ways you can tilt these alarming numbers in your favor is get your health and fitness under control. (That will lessen the odds your kid is obese too!) It’s hard to change how your hospital is doing c-sections, whether you’re in an area with great NICU care, but you can lessen the odds you even need these interventions. These issues are always multi-causal, however, it’s not a coincidence America has terrible childcare numbers and we’re also the most obese.

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