Triesta Fowler, M.D.
Medical Officer, NICHD
Healthy Pregnancy for Every Body, from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) at the National Institutes of Health, educates plus-size pregnant women and healthcare providers about the importance of working together for a healthy pregnancy.
The initiative provides tools and resources for plus-size pregnant women and providers to use together. It explains body mass index as just one part of a healthy pregnancy plan, reminding women and providers to think about factors beyond weight, such as family history and lifestyle.
Taking charge of your pregnancy
The NICHD’s National Child & Maternal Health Education Program and its Pregnancy for Every Body initiative want plus-size women to feel empowered and knowledgeable about their pregnancies. Every woman should be confident that they are equal partners with their providers in their prenatal care.
Research shows that pregnant women who are obese or overweight are at higher risk for pregnancy complications, including gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, preterm birth, miscarriage, and stillbirth. Obesity and overweight also make it more likely that a woman will need a surgical or cesarean section delivery.
A team effort
Healthy pregnancies for plus-size women do not happen alone: women and healthcare providers need to work together to ensure the best outcomes. Most plus-size women can have healthy pregnancies when they get regular prenatal care and are monitored by a healthcare provider.
But many women who are overweight or obese delay or avoid prenatal care because they don’t want to be shamed or judged. That’s why Pregnancy for Every Body offers healthcare providers ideas for discussing weight and pregnancy in a sensitive and respectful way, and tips for supporting plus-size women before, during, and after pregnancy. The provider-focused information also includes guidance from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
Pregnancy for Every Body offers resources for moms-to-be, including how to:
- Talk with a healthcare provider
- Create a Pregnancy Action Plan
- Find a “size friendly” healthcare provider
Pregnancy for Every Body helps pregnant women and their providers work toward their shared goals of healthy pregnancies, safe deliveries, and healthy babies. Visit the Pregnancy for Every Body website to learn more.