By Dr Tan Shu Qi, Consultant and Associate Professor Tan Thiam Chye, Visiting Consultant, Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, KK Women's and Children's Hospital

Plus-sized women may face more problems in pregnancy. Knowing your BMI helps you to know where you stand. To calculate your BMI, divide your weight (in kilograms) by your height squared (in metres). A BMI of over 25 is considered overweight, while over 30 is considered obese.

As an example, if you weigh 70kg and are 1.5m tall, your BMI would be 70 divided by 2.25 (which is 1.5 multiplied by 1.5). That would make your BMI 31, putting you in the obese range.

Although weight gain is an important part of pregnancy, you need to be careful not to put on more weight than is recommended. This is good advice no matter what your BMI is. For example, there's no need to consume extra calories during your first trimester, so you should be sticking to the recommended dietary intake of 1,800 kcal a day.

While many plus-sized women go on to have healthy pregnancies and babies, it's a good idea to be aware of these potential issues in order to be fully informed. Remember to seek advice from your doctor if you have any concerns.

Diagnostic Difficulties

diagnostic difficulties

Added layers of fat around your belly can make it hard for the ultrasound scan to accurately "see" your baby and spot if there are any problems.

Related: How Being Plus-Sized Affects Your Baby

Gestational Diabetes

gestational diabetes

Your body undergoes many hormonal changes when pregnant, which can increase the risk of diabetes in pregnancy. This type of diabetes may clear up after pregnancy, though in some cases it does not. Women who are obese are more at risk at developing both standard diabetes and gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM), which can result in miscarriages or babies who are born at higher weights — leading to a more difficult delivery. Your doctor will schedule an oral glucose tolerance test, or OGTT, to check if you have GDM, and will advise you accordingly.

Related: What You Need to Know About Gestational Diabetes


This condition affects about 10 percent of pregnancies. In many cases, pre-eclampsia is difficult for mothers to pick up on, as it doesn't come with symptoms. If you experience headaches, blurry vision, vomiting, or sudden swelling of your hands, feet and face, see your doctor immediately.

Related: Types of Pregnancy Complications

Labour Difficulties

labour difficulties

You might be in for a longer pregnancy than planned. Women who are obese are more likely to find that the birth occurs after their planned due date. This is why very overweight mothers may find that they need an induced labour.

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Read these next:


The New Art and Science of Pregnancy and Childbirth 2008, World Scientific

Healthy Start for your Pregnancy 2012, Health Promotion Board Singapore