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Caring for the Extremely Obese Woman During Pregnancy and Birth

James, Dotti C. PhD, RNC; Maher, Mary Ann BSN, RNC

MCN: The American Journal of Maternal/Child Nursing: January-February 2009 - Volume 34 - Issue 1 - p 24–30
doi: 10.1097/01.NMC.0000343862.72237.62
Original Article

This article describes the special care needed by the pregnant woman who is extremely obese. Many pregnant women who are extremely obese have underlying medical conditions, and a multidisciplinary, coordinated approach to their care involving anesthesia providers, physicians, and the nursing staff is needed to develop a detailed plan for vaginal and cesarean births. Such an approach, begun preconceptionally or during pregnancy, can enable care to be delivered smoothly and safely and should include an evaluation of the unit's equipment and furniture to determine if they are appropriate for obese persons. Equipment that should be evaluated for size and weight limits include beds, operating room tables, commodes, wheelchairs, scales, walkers, blood pressure cuffs, transfer devices, and intermittent pneumatic compression devices.

Women who suffer from extreme obesity require specialized care during pregnancy and during labor. Are you equipped to offer such care?

Dotti C. James is Director, Center for Nursing Excellence, St. John's Mercy Medical Center, St. Louis, MO. She can be reached via e-mail at

Mary Ann Maher is a Nurse Clinician, Department of Labor and Delivery, St. John's Mercy Medical Center, St. Louis, MO.

The authors have no conflict of interest or financial interests with any companies mentioned in the article.

© 2009 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.