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How Does BMI Affect Pregnancy?

Affinity Health, a leading provider of high-quality healthcare, highlights how BMI affects pregnancy.

Did you know? A high body mass index (BMI) during pregnancy is dangerous for you and your unborn baby? If your BMI exceeds 30, then your weight is classified as obese.

How to Calculate Your BMI?

To calculate your BMI, divide your weight in kilograms by your height in metres squared.

If you are 1.65m tall and weigh 85kg:

weight / height2

= 85 / 1.65 x 1.65

= 85 / 2.72

= 31.25


So, your BMI would be 31.25.

According to CDC, BMI weight status is as follows:






Standard range







Could a High BMI Impact Fertility?

In short, yes. A high BMI can impair fertility by interfering with ovulation. The greater the BMI, even in women who ovulate regularly, the longer it may take to conceive. Additionally, a high BMI may lead to your needing in-vitro fertilisation.


A high BMI during pregnancy raises the risks of the following pregnancy complications:

Can My Weight Affect the Health of My Unborn Baby?

A high BMI during pregnancy may increase the chances of the following health issues in unborn babies:

  • Congenital diseases
  • Abnormal birth weight
  • Growth issues
  • Paediatric asthma
  • Paediatric obesity
  • Cognitive difficulties
  • Developmental delay

How Much Weight Gain Is Healthy During Pregnancy?

Pregnancy weight gain must take your BMI into account.

  • If your BMI exceeds 30 and you are pregnant with one child, you may gain 5 to 9kg.
  • If your BMI is at least 30 and you are pregnant with twins or multiples, you may gain 11 to 19kg.


“Your healthcare professional may advise you to keep an eye on your weight during pregnancy,” says Murray Hewlett, Affinity Health CEO.

Does a High BMI Mean I Need More Treatment During Pregnancy?

If your BMI is 30 or higher, your service provider may suggest:

1. Prenatal screenings for gestational diabetes
Between 24 and 28 weeks of pregnancy, a screening test called the glucose challenge test occurs. Often, women at average risk for gestational diabetes undergo this test. You may need a second screening test if your glucose levels are normal. That will occur between weeks 24 and 28 of pregnancy. If the results show that your blood glucose levels are high, more testing may take place.

2. Changes to your ultrasound
A routine foetal ultrasound may occur to check progress. The ultrasound happens between 18 and 20 weeks of pregnancy. But the ultrasound waves may struggle to transmit through the belly fat tissue. That can compromise the efficacy of foetal ultrasonography.

3. Diagnostic testing for obstructive sleep apnoea
Sleep apnoea has the potential to pause breathing during sleep. Pregnant women with obstructive sleep apnoea may develop preeclampsia and other problems. If your health care physician suspects that you may have sleep apnoea, they may refer you to a sleep expert.

How Can I Ensure a Healthy Pregnancy?

You can reduce the effects of a high BMI on your baby. For instance:

·       Schedule to see a doctor.

Your provider may prescribe a daily prenatal vitamin. They may also refer you to other health care professionals. Doctors will recommend what you need to maintain a healthy weight.

·       Seek regular prenatal care

Prenatal appointments allow your physician to see how you and your unborn baby are doing. They also help manage any medical issues.

·       Eat nutritious food

Work with your doctor or a qualified nutritionist to maintain a balanced diet. Remember that you need extra folic acid, protein, calcium, iron, and other critical nutrients during pregnancy.

·       Perform physical activity

Ask your doctor about safe methods to be physically active throughout pregnancy. Low-impact aerobics such as walking and swimming are beneficial for moms and babies.

·       Avoid dangerous chemicals

If you smoke, consult your health care practitioner for advice on quitting. It is also vital to avoid alcohol and illegal substances.


“A BMI of 30 or over during pregnancy can raise the risk of problems for both mother and child. But there are ways to manage risks and promote a healthy pregnancy. Never hesitate to ask your health care provider any questions,” concludes Hewlett.


Learn More: 9 Essential Screenings for All Women

About Affinity Health

Affinity Health is the leading provider of affordable medical insurance in South Africa. Members enjoy access to a network of healthcare providers. We have designed healthcare products to protect you and your family when it matters the most. We strive to give our clients peace of mind and the highest standard of service. For more information, follow us on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

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