St. Clair Hospital is offering a healthful lifestyle program called Fit for Two to women who are pregnant, or planning to become pregnant. The free program is for women who are overweight and have concerns about excessive weight gain with pregnancy. Obesity and pregnancy can be a dangerous combination, with risks to mother and baby, says Deborah A. Lenart, M.D., a board-certified obstetrician-gynecologist and chief of Obstetrical Services at St. Clair. Gestational diabetes and hypertension are potential medical complications for the mother, Dr. Lenart says; she may have a more difficult labor, with a greater chance of needing a C-section, which carries a higher risk for infection and blood clots. Obese women have a higher risk of pregnancy loss, through miscarriage or stillbirth. Infants born to obese mothers are bigger themselves, with higher birth weights that can lead to birth trauma, such as fractured or dislocated shoulders; they are also more likely to have birth defects.
Dr. Lenart approaches the subject of obesity with sensitivity. “It’s a complex problem and it’s not an easy topic to bring up,” she says. “My partners and I reassure our patients that we want the best outcome for them and their babies, and weight management is one way to achieve that. The Fit for Two program features nutrition and fitness education, and it also includes closer monitoring of the pregnancy with more frequent non-stress tests and a second ultrasound, because of the increased risks.”
Patient Michelle Iddings is happily participating in Fit for Two, which is conducted the fourth Monday of each month in the Outpatient Center in Bethel Park. “It’s a way to have a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby, and it has given me confidence,” she says. “I am learning that pregnancy can be the healthiest time of my life and an opportunity to make lasting, healthy lifestyle changes.”
To register for a Fit for Two class, please visit www.stclair.org and click on Programs and Events. For more information, call 412-942-5877. To contact Dr. Lenart at Advanced Women’s Care of Pittsburgh, P.C., call 724-941-1866.