Doctors are aware of many of the conditions and actions that could cause pregnancy complications. For example, gestational diabetes can cause macrosomia, and many mothers with the condition need a cesarean section. Drinking alcohol during pregnancy also causes a wide range of dangerous complications, one of the worst being fetal alcohol syndrome and poor development. Some of these complications are preventable while others are not. Many studies have proven that maternal obesity can cause pregnancy complications, but a recent one specifically explores the effect maternal obesity has on a baby’s Apgar score upon birth. Such findings suggest that the negative effects of maternal obesity are sometimes more difficult to pinpoint.

A doctor will give your baby an Apgar examination immediately after he or she has been born and again five minutes later. The examination is relatively general, but will give your doctor a good idea of your baby’s overall health. The examination includes a look at your baby’s appearance and coloration, heart rate, reflexes, muscle tone, and breathing rate. Each of these five tests can be scored from zero to two, so a ten is the highest score any baby can receive and it means that he or she seems perfectly healthy. Babies with a score less than seven usually need additional medical attention or care, as a few things are not checking out. The recent study showed that babies born to obese mothers were more likely to have an Apgar score between four and six. Usually, such a score is not cause for immediate concern or intervention, but it is certainly not in the “healthy” range. This suggests that the womb of an obese woman is not ideal for development. Whether the baby is not getting enough oxygen or does not have the proper nourishment required for muscle development, a low Apgar score is one of the many negative side effects associated with maternal obesity.

To make sure your baby is born as healthy as possible, try getting to a normal weight for your height before you even conceive. It is much harder to lose weight once you become pregnant because you will have to take your baby’s nutrition into consideration, and you will also be gaining weight daily as your baby grows. Even if you only lose weight for the duration of gestation, your baby will benefit greatly and he or she will be healthier from the start.

Source: M Chen et al: Maternal Obesity and Neonatal Apgar Scores. Journal of Maternal and Fetal Neonatal Medicine Volume 23 Issue 1 pp. 89-95 January 2010