Medical experts are calling for a national strategy to help women maintain a “normal” weight before pregnancy.
Increases in the rate of overweight and obese first time mums are one of the key factors for a substantial proportion of pregnancy and birth complications, research suggests.
"We found that a substantial proportion of the burden of adverse perinatal outcomes for Australian women is linked to maternal overweight and obesity, and that this proportion has steadily increased over the past 25 years," the authors of a new study published in the latest edition of the Medical Journal of Australia wrote.
For almost one in four (23.8 per cent) pregnant women who had pre-eclampsia between 2010-14, the condition was attributable to carrying too much weight.
Being overweight or obese was associated with 17 per cent of gestational diabetes cases and 23.4 per cent of fetal macrosomia (larger than average baby).
Now the studie authors are calling for strategies to help women maintain a healthy weight before they get pregnant.
"Investing in obesity prevention strategies that target women prior to their becoming pregnant is likely to provide the greatest benefit."