As you prepare for motherhood, you tend to do all the right things towards achieving a normal and uncomplicated pregnancy, and the delivery of a healthy baby. In this context, is there a significance of maintaining a normal body weight, in trying to minimise risks and complications in pregnancy?

Your bodymass index (BMI) is a measure of your weight in relation to your height. A normal BMI is between 18.5 and 25. A person is overweight if her BMI is between 25 and 29.9, or obese if BMI is 30 or above. BMI can be measured using BMI charts, or using BMI calculating software, by putting in the values of your height and weight.

The BMI should be calculated at the beginning of a pregnancy, to assess and watch out for potential complications in the pregnancy.

You should aim for a BMI of less than 30, if you are unable to achieve a normal BMI below 25. With increasing BMI, the additional risks become more likely, being much higher for women with a BMI of 40 or above. Therefore, higher the BMI, higher will be the risks.

The risks for you, with high BMI, are the increased likelihood of developing thrombo-embolism (i.e blood clots in your legs or lungs), diabetes in pregnancy and high blood pressure, all of which can make you quite unwell and prevent you from enjoying your pregnancy.

If you have a high BMI, your baby may be very big. There is also slightly increased chance of miscarriage. There is also a slight increase in the rate of birth defects and stillborn babies with very high maternal BMI. Babies born to obese mothers have a risk of developing obesity and diabetes in later life.

There are also increased risks of complications during delivery, such as anaesthetic complications, bleeding and poor wound healing, with obesity.

Therefore if you are planning a pregnancy with a BMI of above 30, it would be strongly recommended to lose weight prior to pregnancy. Weight loss will definitely help by increasing your ability to conceive, reducing additional risks to you and your baby in the pregnancy, and reducing your risk of diabetes in pregnancy and later life.

Weight loss should be achieved with a structured weight loss programme. Crash dieting is not good for health. You should aim to lose about 1kg per week. Do not forget to take Folic Acid when you are trying for a pregnancy.