Women who are obese should lose weight before getting pregnant to reduce the risk of complications, a new study finds.
They risk developing gestational diabetes, high blood pressure, pre-eclampsia, depression, higher levels of instrumental birth, caesarean birth as well as surgical site infection.
Their babies have a higher chance of being large, and also of developing birth defects or dying around the time of being born, the research, led by the School of Nursing and Midwifery in Trinity College Dublin, revealed.
The study appeared in 'Obesity Reviews'.
Professor Cecily Begley, the author, said: "Up to one in five pregnant women in Ireland suffers from obesity, a serious health problem that is not currently being adequately addressed.
"However, it is important not to stigmatise women because of their weight.
"We need to provide pre-conceptual health education, through national subsidised programmes, to support and encourage women with a high BMI to lose weight before they conceive."
Prof Michael Turner, the HSE's clinical lead on obstetrics, said: "The potential complications of obesity in pregnancy can lead to longer duration of hospital stay and greater costs. Given the high proportion of pregnant women with obesity, it is crucial to invest in weight loss support for these women, to reduce the risks for mothers and babies."