Taking steps to lower the risks

Originally Published May 7, 2020 on Pregnancy | By Sarah Garone

Learning the risks of pregnancy for yourself and baby may feel a bit overwhelming. Thankfully, there are steps women of size can take to reduce the chances of landing with weight-related complications.

Your first — and best — line of defense? Start early.

“It’s best to plan at least 6 months ahead of actually getting pregnant so you can be your healthiest self before carrying your most vulnerable passenger,” says Sherry A. Ross, MD, an OB-GYN and women’s health expert at Providence St. John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California.

Ross encourages working with your doctor and/or a dietitian to get into your best pregnancy shape through diet and exercise.

If losing weight pre-baby wasn’t in the cards and you’re already “on the nest,” healthy food choices and increased activity are still best bets for maintaining a healthy weight — and, therefore, a healthier pregnancy.

“Well-controlled weight gain during pregnancy is key,” says Jamie Lipeles, DO, founder of Marina OB/GYN in Marina Del Rey, California. “The most important steps a [woman with extra weight] can take to avoid all the mentioned risks are diet and exercise.”

And don’t forget to stick with your prenatal vitamins. “In addition to a well-balanced diet, I encourage my patients to begin taking prenatal vitamins and additional folic acid prior to getting pregnant,” says Lipeles. (Of course, keep taking them while you’re pregnant, too!)

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