A QUARTER of pregnant women seen by the Wye Valley NHS Trust are obese at the time of their first screening.

Health professionals have warned that women could be putting both their own and their baby’s health at risk by not losing weight before getting pregnant.

According to data from NHS Digital, around 1,570 women were weighed at their first antenatal booking appointment with the trust in the 12 months to April 2018.

Of these, 25 per cent were found to have a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 30 or above, placing them in the obese range.

A further 28 per cent were deemed overweight, with a BMI of 25 or over.

When the number of underweight women is taken into account, the figures mean that less than half of all expectant mothers seen by the trust were considered to be at a healthy weight at this stage of their pregnancy, which is typically between the ten and 12 week mark.

The rate of obesity amongst pregnant women could have been higher still, as accurate data was not available for January of this year.

According to both the NHS and the Royal College of Midwives, obese women are more at risk of a range of complications during pregnancy.

These include a higher chance of miscarriage, high birth weight, gestational diabetes, premature birth, thrombosis, pre-eclampsia and still births.

They may also suffer complications during childbirth, with the RCM warning that overweight and obese women are at a greater risk of having to have a caesarean section or experiencing haemorrhages or shoulder dystocia - where the baby gets stuck during delivery.

A recent US study published in the medical journal BMJ also linked a number of lifestyle factors in mothers, including a high BMI, with an increased risk of their children suffering from obesity during childhood.

Across England, almost half of women were heavier than advised at their booking appointment over the same 12 month period.

Just over 21 per cent were obese, while more than 27 p er cent were overweight.

Tam Fry, spokesman for the National Obesity Forum, described the numbers as “saddening”.