Women and birthing people who have a high BMI may experience more difficulties in labour. However, it is worth remembering that many women and birthing people have straightforward births. We know that women and birthing people who have a high BMI are at an increased risk of having: 

  • An induction of labour 
  • A longer labour 
  • A caesarean birth 
  • Difficulties in hearing the baby's heartbeat 
  • Larger babies and difficulties delivering the baby's shoulders 
  • Heavy bleeding after the baby is born 
  • Problems having epidurals and drips inserted 
  • Less chance of having a successful vaginal birth after a previous caesarean birth 
  • Baby having breathing difficulties after birth. 


What we advise

If your BMI is 35 or over at your booking appointment we recommend that you give birth in hospital (Bath RUH/ Swindon GWH/ Salisbury SFT)

This is to ensure that doctors and midwives can respond quickly if any problems occur. It may be necessary to monitor your baby's heartbeat continuously.

  • fetal scalp electrode (sometimes called a clip) may be recommended if it is difficult to monitor the baby's heartbeat through your bump. This is attached to your baby's scalp through your vagina and cervix and is then connected to the monitor.

  • You will be given an Antacid tablet regularly in active labour, in order to reduce the acid content of your stomach. This is a precaution in case a caesarean birth is needed. There is specialised equipment for women with an increased BMI, such as a larger blood pressure cuff, beds suitable for ladies who weigh over 120kg (18 ½ stone), and special beds/theatre trolley for larger ladies who are having an epidural.

  • A risk assessment form will be completed if you have a BMI over 35. This helps staff to plan for your needs, and access the correct equipment when you are admitted.

Why your weight matters during pregnancy

Why your weight matters during pregnancy


Why do I need to see an anaesthetist during my pregnancy?

Why do I need to see an anaesthetist during my pregnancy?