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Depression, Obesity and Their Comorbidities During Pregnancy

A woman's body undergoes many changes during pregnancy. While some are just temporary and harmless, some can lead to serious complications in both the mother and the developing fetus. Depression and obesity are two of the most common complications in pregnancy. Both can lead to various comorbidities, which can cause further issues in the pregnancy.

Book an online appointment with Dr. Asha Somashekar Hiremath for Pregnancy & Gynecology related issues.

What is Comorbidity?

When a human body has more than one disease or health condition, it is known as "comorbidity." Doctors use this term to describe a condition when a person has multiple medical issues. Usually, "comorbidities" are chronic or long-term.

When one health condition leads to the development of another chronic or long-term health issue, the latter is known as comorbidity. This is very different from a "complication." A complication arises when you are suffering from a disease or after a procedure or treatment to improve or cure the condition.

What are the Comorbidities of Pregnancy?

Health complications during pregnancies are very common. Some women even suffer from comorbidities due to an underlying health condition or due to something they develop during their pregnancy. Some of the common comorbidities of pregnancy are:

  • Hypertension/Preeclampsia
  • Diabetes
  • Thyroid issues
  • Hypertensive disorders
  • Cardia issues
  • Asthma
  • UTIs

Obesity in Pregnancy

A person with a Body Mass Index (BMI)of 25.0 to 29.9 is simply overweight. However, when the BMI crosses 30, they are known as obese. Obesity is further classified into three levels that indicate the health risks associated with increasing BMI.

When pregnant, a woman's weight will go up, so doctors monitor her rate of weight gain. If she gains more than 1 kg in a week, it is a cause for concern. Having a BMI of over 30 even before pregnancy means the woman is already obese and has a high chance of developing other complications.

Obesity symptoms during pregnancy should not be ignored. Obesity during pregnancy causes issues in both the mother and the developing baby. It can increase the risk of developing gestational diabetes, gestational hypertension, preeclampsia, or sleep apnea. When it comes to the baby, obesity during pregnancy can increase the risk of congenital disabilities, preterm delivery and stillbirth or cause the baby to gain too much weight, leading to macrosomia.

A pregnant woman cannot go on a crash diet or undertake a fitness program to lose all that excess weight. She can manage her obesity during pregnancy by following a healthy diet, active lifestyle and following doctor's orders to avoid further complications.

Depression in Pregnancy

Postpartum depression is a well-discussed topic in recent times. People are aware of the various postpartum depression symptoms to watch out for and how to help the new mother get better. Are you aware of depression during pregnancy?

Yes, hormonal fluctuations can cause depression in pregnancy. Many women experience mood swings during their menstrual cycle due to hormonal fluctuations. In pregnancy, the hormonal fluctuations are longer and lasting, thus having a bigger impact on the woman's mood.

The reasons for depression during pregnancy could be plenty. It could be an unexpected or unwanted pregnancy, some complications with the baby that were discovered during the pregnancy scans, a problem with the partner or someone close, lack of support, financial troubles, etc.

Identifying depression during pregnancy can be a real challenge as the symptoms are very similar to the symptoms of hormonal fluctuations. Not treating the expecting mother's depression can lead to many complications.

If a woman is suffering from depression during pregnancy, it could affect the way she bonds with her baby in utero and soon after delivery. In most cases, this depression will continue postpartum and can even affect the way she responds to the baby's cues, which in turn can affect the mother-child relationship as the baby grows.

Depression and Obesity in Pregnancy

What happens when a pregnant woman suffers from both obesity and depression?

Obesity in pregnancy can be hard to manage and can lead to various complications in the pregnancy and the mother-to-be's body. It can, in turn, lead to depression in pregnancy. Similarly, depression in pregnancy due to hormonal changes can lead to overeating, inactive lifestyle and general weight gain. So, both conditions can arise as a complication of the other. Sometimes, both can appear without any connection.

Both depression and obesity are serious complications in pregnancy. When they occur together, they don't cause complications just for the expecting mother but also affect the baby.

Research suggests that the uterine environment is very important for shaping the fetus' brain. The nutrition the baby receives in the womb, and its environment is crucial for healthy development. Known as "early life programming", a baby's exposure to maternal obesity or depression when in the womb can lead to long-term complications. Some possible complications are:

  • Behavioural dysfunction
  • Cognitive impairment
  • Emotional dysregulation
  • Metabolic dysfunctions
  • Brain alterations


Depression and obesity during pregnancy are quite common. The impact of these issues during pregnancy can vary from woman to woman. Remember to talk to your doctor and identify a solution before these issues impact the pregnancy or the baby. You are not alone, and treatment options are available. All you have to do is look!


1. What are the comorbidities of obesity in pregnancy?

Some common comorbidities of obesity in pregnancy are gestational diabetes, hypertension, preeclampsia and sleep apnea.

2. How does obesity affect pregnancy?

When the expecting mother is obese, it can increase her blood pressure, leading to gestational hypertension or preeclampsia. It can affect the way her body synthesises glucose, leading to gestational diabetes or affecting her breathing and sleep patterns. Maternal obesity can also cause the baby to gain too much weight, resulting in a big baby, which can, in turn, complicate the delivery process. It can lead to cesarean delivery, preterm delivery or even stillbirth.

3. What are the complications of maternal obesity in pregnancy?

Maternal obesity during pregnancy can lead to various other complications like gestational diabetes, gestational hypertension, preeclampsia, overweight babies, preterm delivery, stillbirth, delivery by cesarean section, or complications during the delivery itself.

4. Is feeling lonely during pregnancy normal?

A pregnant woman goes through hormonal changes and fluctuations. Many pregnant women experience mood swings, including the feeling of loneliness. While she cannot control these mood swings or feelings, trying to follow an active lifestyle, engaging in activities that make her feel happy, or interacting with friends and family can help alleviate this feeling.

5. Does it affect the baby when you're sad?

When you are sad during your pregnancy, the baby can feel your emotions inside the uterus. Occasionally, feeling sad or angry will not cause any permanent damage or impact on the baby. However, feeling sad often or most of the days requires professional attention.

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