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Maternity units struggling to cope with obese women

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Maternity units across the country are increasingly unable to cope with an increase in the number of obese pregnant women, a report has warned.

A survey by the Centre for Maternal and Child Enquiries (Cmace) found that many departments lacked the specialist equipment needed to carry out the complex and dangerous deliveries.

While most obstetric units had the right kind of delivery beds and blood pressure monitoring equipment, one in 10 was found not to have suitable operating theatre tables. Others lacked extra-wide chairs, theatre trolleys and ward beds. A further 44% had no guidelines for the care and management of obese pregnant women.

The survey came as Cmace published joint guidance with the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists on the problem.

The document, issued to the NHS, advises that pregnant women with a body mass index of 35 or over should be discouraged from giving birth at home. Instead, they should be referred to a hospital unit led by consultants.

It also calls for overweight women to be given dietary and exercise advice to prevent additional weight gain during pregnancy.

Professor Cathy Warwick, general secretary of the Royal College of Midwives, said: “The bottom line here is that we need to help women to improve their lifestyle and health, for the sake of their own long-term health, and not just in pregnancy.”

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Readers' comments (2)

  • i dont know how they get pregnant in the first place.

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  • that's exactly what i wondered too! i have been trying to conceive unsuccessfully for 4yrs. i am in normal limits in terms of bmi i don't drink, smoke or have any other health issues other than pcos and yet have been told by our nhs i don't stand a chance of having a child. surely being overweight and more so obese decreases the chances of being a mother? the danger of being obese impacts on the health of the infant too. better education of this needs to be given. i was shocked to discover that newborn babies now weigh on average 9lbs 0r 4kgs in new money. i'm all for healthy babies, but i can't help wonder what the long term outcome is for their health. afterall big babies may grow up to become overweight children and that can't be healthy.

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