Can Weight Gain Really Impact Your Odds Of Having A C-Section?

Photo: Marion Curtis/StarPix/SIX:02/Shutterstock.
On last night's episode of Keeping Up With The Kardashians, Kris Jenner is on then-pregnant Khloé Kardashian's case about eating more, because she's concerned she hasn't gained enough weight during her pregnancy.
"I gained and lost — and had the time of my life. And I was healthy, and I was happy," Kris says about her six pregnancies, as she delivers eight dozen Krispy Kreme donuts to Khloé.
Khloé dismisses her mom's attitude as "old school," and reiterates that she wants to stay healthy to avoid having a cesarean section. "If I want a donut or cookies I'll eat them, I'm not depriving myself," she says. "Everything I'm doing is instructed by my doctor. I would love to avoid a C-section if possible, but if my baby turns out to be really big, I'm gonna have to get a C-section." Khloé says she wants to deliver vaginally because it's how her sisters gave birth, and because the thought of a C-section freaks her out — and that's her prerogative. But how much does weight gain actually affect the way a person delivers?
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Well, it's important to note that the amount of weight that a person gains during pregnancy depends on various factors, including the person's pre-pregnancy weight. The Institute of Medicine has weight-gain recommendations or "targets" that range from 11-40 pounds depending on a person's pre-pregnancy weight. But everyone is different and every pregnancy is different, so it's almost impossible to give a range of what's "normal" when it comes to weight gain. Not to mention, weight is just one determinant of health — even for pregnant people.

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So, why give weight-gain guidelines at all? Technically, regardless of your pre-pregnancy weight, gaining a lot of weight rapidly could increase a pregnant person's risk for certain health conditions, like pre-eclampsia and gestational diabetes. On top of that, according to the National Institute of Health (NIH), people who gain a lot of weight during pregnancy (whatever that means for the individual) will likely have a very big child. When an infant's birth weight is more than 8 pounds, 13 ounces (or 4,000 grams), then it's referred to as "fetal macrosomia." It makes sense that a larger baby would be harder to deliver vaginally, and in some cases a baby can get wedged in the birth canal and lead to injuries. For this reason, a C-section is often recommended for pregnant people with fetal macrosomia, which could explain Khloé's preoccupation.
For some people, worrying about gaining "too much" weight during pregnancy could definitely lead to undue stress and worry. So, Khloé's desire to continue eating without depriving herself, and exercising like she always does is not misguided. These habits may lower certain health risks (and are a good idea in general) for certain people, although there haven't been studies showing that this will necessarily lower the risk of complications during birth or the need for a C-section, according to the NIH.
Ultimately, Kris's well-meaning suggestions are understandable — she is a momager, after all. But Khloé's pregnancy, weight, and eating habits are between her and her doctor, even if she chose to share all those personal details with the rest of the world.
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