With increasing numbers of news stories about the UK being an ‘obese nation’ we are not only more acutely aware of the importance of living healthily, but unfortunately we are also becoming very judgemental about other people’s bodies.
Indeed, you only have to look at ThinkBaby forum chats like ‘Is it wrong to try for a baby when you are overweight?’ and you realise that women are feeling self-conscious to a point where they no longer feel free or empowered to even try to have a baby.
Certainly one of many common causes of infertility can be weight – being too fat or too thin – but this does not mean all overweight or underweight women will find it impossible or even find it that hard to get pregnant.
Can you be too overweight to get pregnant?
The answer is no. Many overweight women or even obese women get pregnant without any trouble. However, if your BMI is over 25 you might begin to find that your weight affects your health.
(You can calculate your Body Mass Index online at www.nhsdirect.nhs.uk, but as a guide, if you are 5ft 5inches tall and you weigh 11 stone, your BMI would be just over 25.)
If you have been trying for a baby for six months or even 12 months you still don’t necessarily have to worry that there is anything wrong.
Should you have to resort to some form of assisted conception you might find that achieving a lower weight is one of the pre-conditions of any NHS treatment you do get.
The main reason why weight can hamper your ability to get pregnant is because it can affect your menstrual cycle and the less regularly you ovulate, the less eggs per year stand a chance of fertilisation.
Being very underweight or losing weight drastically in a short period of time can also affect your menstrual cycle. However there are many women who are overweight or thin who will never experience any problems such as this.
Ultimately, if you do decide to strive to lose weight, focus on the goal of pregnancy – you will find this a far more positive way to approach the challenge than dieting in order to meet with other people’s approval.
Being overweight in pregnancy
Once pregnant, some women have encountered negative attitudes from their doctors, midwives or obstetricians because they are warned that being overweight might rule out having a home birth or that they are more likely to end up having their baby by caesarian, or that they are more at risk of developing a problem such as gestational diabetes.
This is not exactly the most empowering introduction to enjoying pregnancy! Instead, if you are over your ideal weight, aim more for achieving the best healthy pregnancy you can. Feeling good and full of energy and optimism is more important than aiming for size zero!