Do obese pregnant women worry about the risks of pregnancy and birth?

Improving advice to obese pregnant women about where to give birth.

Start: September 2018

End: August 2019

One in five pregnant women in the UK are obese. Although these women are more likely to have complicated pregnancies and births, many obese pregnant women actually have no complications at all.

This means that it is important to understand whether obese women worry about the risks of pregnancy and birth, and whether this affects the decisions they make about where they give birth.

Tailored pregnancy care that suits the woman's circumstances

The care a woman receives during pregnancy and birth should be tailored to her individual circumstances, and a wide range of choices are offered. NICE recommends that all obese women with a BMI over 35, and some with a BMI over 30, give birth in a hospital where they can be looked after by doctors and midwives (a BMI over 30 is considered obese, while over 40 is severely obese).

However, there are many more midwife-led birth centres in the UK than there were ten years ago, some of which are alongside hospital birth centres, and it may be appropriate for some obese pregnant women to give birth at these centres.

Good advice on where to give birth is important

We believe that it is important for obese women to be properly advised and supported when they make decisions about where they want to give birth, especially because many do have uncomplicated pregnancies and births.

By looking at interviews with obese women that have already been published in scientific journals, we want to understand how the discussions women have with healthcare professionals make them feel about the risks they face in pregnancy, and whether this influences the decisions they make.

Our hope is that we can then support healthcare providers in their discussions with obese pregnant women, so that these women are better informed and able to make the right choices for their individual circumstances.

Join the fight for healthy pregnancies and babies

Tommy's funds research across the UK investigating the reasons for miscarriage, stillbirth and premature birth, and fighting to make pregnancy and birth safer. We can keep you updated on ways you can support our work. If you would like to join our fight, click here.

More about Tommy's research

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    Research into health and wellbeing in pregnancy

    In addition to our core work on miscarriage, stillbirth, preterm birth and pre-eclampsia, Tommy’s also funds projects that research the effects of lifestyle and well-being on pregnancy and on the later life of the child.

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    Research into stillbirth

    When a baby dies after 24 weeks of gestation, it is called a stillbirth. Nearly 3000 families a year get the devastating news that their baby is not alive. Our research is helping to change this.

  • Nurse monitoring premature baby in hospital

    Research into premature birth

    Around 60,000 babies are born prematurely each year in the UK. These babies are vulnerable – they are born before they have grown to cope with the outside world. Tommy’s is saving lives by researching how we can prevent premature births by finding those at risk early on.

  • Clinical researcher looking at test tube

    Research into miscarriage

    Miscarriage is the most common complication of pregnancy with 1 in 4 women experiencing at least 1 miscarriage during their reproductive lifetime. This is a quarter of all mothers-to-be, a quarter of all families affected by loss.

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    Please note that these comments are monitored but not answered by Tommy’s. Please call your GP or maternity unit if you have concerns about your health or your baby’s health.

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