NCT response: CMACE report on maternal obesity

Released on: 20 July 2011

The Centre for Maternal and Child Enquiries (CMACE) report ‘Maternal obesity in the UK’ has found that 5% of the UK maternity population were severely obese (body mass index 35+) with Wales having the highest rate. The outcomes for severely obese women, when compared to the general population, were poorer, the rate of stillbirth increased, and women were more at risk of developing venous thromboembolism (VTE).

Antenatal care for severely obese women was poorly documented, with fewer than 50% of women with moderate or high risk of VTE offered treatment. In the postnatal period, only 55% were prescribed appropriate medication.


Medical conditions for this group of women can also increase – 38% had at least one medical condition – which can in turn increase complications for mother and baby.

Mary Newburn, Head of Research & Information, NCT, says;

“If one in 20 pregnant women is severely obese in the UK, we really need to look at improving the information and support that we offer this group straight away. It is vital that pregnant women with a high BMI are treated as individuals and have the best opportunity to have a positive pregnancy and birth. Women who feel good about themselves are better able to adjust to motherhood and look after their family well.


“We are concerned that the results show so many obese women are not receiving optimal clinical care. It is important to support women with a high BMI to have a more active birth, and to use their own resources such as relaxation and breathing, during labour as surgical interventions carry more health risks.”