Portrait of a Pregnant Woman
Obese women are likely to have larger babies and rates of caesarians are much higher as are births with forceps and other very serious complications. Some years ago I worked with a young woman who was obese yet her desire for children transformed her, over a year, into a bonny woman half her original size, with a more contented outlook and a confidence which hadn't been visible previously.
Unfortunately her efforts to conceive were non-productive and her husband and herself saved hard to pay for IVF treatment (it wasn't available on the NHS then). During her second IVF attempt they emigrated to Canada and we lost touch but I've often wondered if they had a family.
However, society has changed and now obese pregnant women are to be given drugs to stop their babies becoming overweight.
More than 500 pregnant women go to the Liverpool Women's Hospital every year with a body mass index (BMI) of more than 40, meaning they are severely obese and now 100 of them are to be given the drug Metformin, which is usually given to diabetics to reduce blood sugar levels.
The medic involved in running the trial said, "The difficulty comes when you have been living in a particularly way for years that is not healthy. To suddenly change to a different lifestyle is not easy to do. Lifestyle change takes time and we would always encourage this as well but the use of Metformin gives us another option when the other is not realistic."
Metformin is a strong drug which may ensure a smaller baby and therefore less risk during delivery, but what effect will it have on the newborn is not known. I expect this is the reason for the trial but isn't it sad that, in these well-informed times, there are so many grossly overweight women happy to become pregnant in the full knowledge of the risks to their unborn child's health.
Is pill-popping the answer? I don't think so.