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Keywords:

  • obesity;
  • weight gain;
  • prenatal care;
  • group antenatal care

Introduction

The prevalence of obesity in Australia among women of childbearing age has doubled over the past 2 decades. Obesity is associated with complications for women and their newborns during pregnancy and birth. Limiting gestational weight gain can reduce perinatal complications and postnatal weight retention, but evidence supporting interventions designed to assist obese pregnant women to manage their weight gain in pregnancy is inconclusive. The aim of this article is to describe the gestational weight change of a cohort of obese pregnant women enrolled in a group antenatal program aimed at assisting them to limit their weight gain in pregnancy to levels recommended by the US Institute of Medicine.

Methods

The program was jointly developed by 2 metropolitan maternity services in New South Wales, Australia. This is a descriptive study that presents select data for women enrolled in the program. Body mass index (BMI), prepregnancy weight, last pregnancy weight, and selected clinical outcomes were recorded for 82 obese women enrolled in the program during the evaluation period of 14 months. Data were analyzed using nonparametric tests: the chi-square and the Mann-Whitney U tests.

Results

Parity was associated with prepregnancy BMI, with women of higher parity having higher BMIs. Women with higher BMIs had a significantly lower gestational weight gain than women with lower BMIs. Overall, 27% of women enrolled in the program gained the recommended 5 to 9 kg, 27% gained less than this amount, and 46% gained more.

Discussion

Evidence supporting interventions designed to assist obese pregnant women to manage their weight gain in pregnancy is lacking. This innovative, collaborative program shows promise, as early results compare favorably with international comparisons.