Optimising a woman’s health prior to pregnancy

In Australia in 2014, almost half (46 per cent) of women who gave birth were overweight or obese (excludes NSW data as unavailable) . About one quarter (26 per cent) were overweight and one fifth (20 per cent) were obese (AIHW 2016b).2

While talking about body weight is a very sensitive issue for many women, it is essential to discuss important benefits for the mother and her baby of being a healthy weight before pregnancy and provide information about the appropriate amount of weight once pregnant. By reaching a healthy weight prior to pregnancy, a woman is protecting her health and baby’s wellbeing.1 

Obesity in pregnancy contributes to increased morbidity and mortality for both mother and baby. Pregnant women who are obese have a higher risk for pregnancy complications including gestational diabetes, pre-eclampsia, thromboembolism, post partum hemorrhage and wound infections 2.

Obesity during pregnancy is typically defined as a BMI of 30 kg/m2  or more at the first antenatal visit consultation.2

It is important that women with an elevated BMI are offered nutritional and exercise information, preconception, during pregnancy and post pregnancy from appropriate specialist services to ensure they are supported appropriately1.

Did you know there are services that provide preconception care and promotion of a healthy lifestyle for women who are considering pregnancy or are pregnant? These services extend to women with complex health needs.


RPA Hospital - Charles Perkins Centre

1) Pregnancy planning Clinic

This multidisciplinary service provides comprehensive assessment of preconception health for women and couples planning a pregnancy (within SLHD).

Referral Process and Patient Information

2) Healthy Lifestyle and Diabetes Prevention Clinic

This clinic provides a one-stop-shop for enhancing your patient’s lifestyle related factors. Including both dietary and exercise assessment and support, this service has been designed to support GPs, to offer a free service for your patients for weight management and prevention of chronic disease.

Referral Process and Patient Information

3) Metabolic Health in Early Pregnancy Clinic

Comprehensive service to manage your patient’s risk of gestational diabetes through diet and exercise.

Referral Process and Patient Information

Royal Hospital for Women - PlaN

PLaN (Pregnancy Planning Lifestyle and Nutrition) is a free service for women and their partners who are thinking about having a baby. The service has been extended to women with complex health or fertility issues requiring specialist care, including from medical physicians, geneticists, and obstetricians including fertility specialists. GP referral is required and Medicare billing is available.

Email referrals to SESLHD-PlanRHW@health.nsw.gov.au.

More information is available on SESLHD website or here.

NSW Health - Get healthy and Get healthy in pregnancy coaching service

Phone counselling services are provide through the Get Healthy and Get healthy in pregnancy programs. These programs offer free personalised health coaching services to help your patients eat healthily and make healthy lifestyle choices, get active and achieve and maintain a healthy weight.

The program offers up to 10 free, confidential coaching calls (over six months) provided by university qualified personal health coaches to help motivate and support individuals to set personalised healthy lifestyle goals and provide information to help track goals, actions and help overcome any problem areas.



Additional resources

Thinking of having a baby – consumer brochure (NSW Health)
Outlines steps women and their partners should take three to six months prior to pregnancy to promote healthy pregnancy. The brochure provides current evidence-based advice with references to appropriate websites for additional information. Available in different languages.


1 Management of Obesity in pregnancy RANZCOG Statement 2016

2 AIHW Picture of overweight and obesity in Australia 2017