Is losing weight while pregnant safe for your unborn child?
If you are at a healthy shape, this is not something that your doctor will advise.
But here’s the thing:
If you have a BMI (body mass index) above 30, losing some pounds may be beneficial for both you and your baby’s health. This shouldn’t, however, be done without consulting your doctor or dietitian.
While you are pregnant, your body nourishes another human being. The growth and overall health of your child depend mainly on the nutrition you provide.
So, if you are cutting down on calories, you should make sure not to cut on nutritious foods.
Pregnancy Weight Gain Chart
All women become heavier while pregnant. This is a natural occurrence since a baby is growing inside of you.
However, it is essential to know how much gaining is healthy. The number of pounds you need to gain depends on your constitution before pregnancy. If you were:
- Underweight (BMI < 18,5) – you should gain 28-40 lb (13-18 kg).
- Healthy weight (BMI 18,5-24,9) – you should gain 24-35 lb (11-16 kg).
- Overweight (BMI 25-29,9) – you should gain 15-25 lb (7-11 kg).
- Obese (BMI>30) – you should gain 11-20 lb (5-9 kg).
In case you had twins or multiple babies, you should ideally gain 37-54 lb (16,5-24,5 kg).
Where do all of these pounds come from? The average distribution is as follows:
- Baby – 7,5 lb (3-3,5 kg)
- Placenta and amniotic fluid – 3,5 lb (1,5 kg)
- Enlarged uterus and breasts – 4 lb (1,8 kg)
- Body fluids – 4 lb (1,8 kg)
- Blood – 4 lb (1,8 kg)
- Fat and other nutrients – 7 lb (3 kg)
Tips for Losing Some Pounds During Pregnancy
Here is how to loss weight when pregnant safely and healthily.
1. Address Weight Issues Early
If you are planning to have a baby, the best time to lose kilograms is before even conceiving. But, we don’t live in a perfect universe, do we?
Maybe you didn’t manage to maintain your kilograms the way you planned. Or yet again, you may have conceived unexpectedly. So here you are, pregnant, and with extra pounds.
You are probably wondering is losing fat while pregnant still an option.
The answer is: “Yes!”. The sooner you start with a healthier lifestyle, the better.
You can expect to get the most pounds during your second and third trimester. This is the period when your baby will be growing rapidly. So, at that point, weight gain won’t be something you can control easily.
Having this in mind, the best period to address weight issues is the first trimester. Many studies have shown that women who made a healthy lifestyle plan between the 7th and the 21st weeks of pregnancy decreased the risk to gain excess pounds going forward.
2. Lower Your Calorie Intake
Contrary to popular belief, pregnancy does not mean that you need to eat for two.
The truth is, 300 calories of extra energy and 20 grams of extra protein are all you need. Everything above that can lead to unwanted gaining, and potentially obesity.
However, you need to make sure that your daily calorie count is no less than 1700 Kcal. This is the absolute minimum calorie intake that helps ensure enough energy and nutrients for both you and your child.
3. Eat Healthily
The only thing you get by eating junk food is empty calories. Chips and candy cannot provide the nutrition your body needs during pregnancy.
Instead, you should eat food that is healthy for you, such as:
- Fruits and vegetables
- Cereals and whole grain bread
- Dairy products
- Plant-based fats, such as olive and peanut oil
- Folate-rich foods, like spinach, beans, and strawberries.
Here are the foods you should try reducing to a minimum:
- Sugar and artificial sweeteners
- Baked goods
- Unhealthy fats, such as butter, margarine, and mayonnaise
- Junk food, like pizza, burgers, chips, pasta, cookies, and ice cream
4. Don’t Skip Breakfast
When you are expecting, breakfast indeed is the most significant meal of the day. It is an excellent opportunity to fill you and your baby with healthy energy.
Skipping breakfast may prove to be counterproductive, as you may end up overeating later in the day.
5. Eat Multiple Smaller Meals
As your baby grows, he/she will start to make pressure within your stomach. Therefore, eating large meals leads to indigestion and heartburn.
Eating six smaller meals will not only help better your digestion, but you will also reduce cravings and overeating.
During pregnancy, it is crucial to be well hydrated. Doctors suggest drinking at least two liters (ten 8-ounce glasses) of water daily.
Being hydrated will help with constipation, which is very common in expecting women. The good news is, it can also aid weight loss during pregnancy, as you will be feeling full for more extended periods.
7. Exercise Lightly
Regardless of your constitution, exercising moderately during pregnancy is a great idea. It will not only burn fat but can also help ease any pains and aches you may have as your body is continuously changing.
At least 30 minutes of swimming, prenatal yoga, jogging or just walking will help you remain healthy and agile.
You should avoid activities that cause you any pain, dizziness or discomfort. Make sure to consult your doctor about your workout regimen.
8. Take Prenatal Vitamins
Your dietician will prescribe some vitamins that will help you get the extra nutrition your body needs. These will help you remain healthy without consuming a lot of calories.
However, you need to remember that supplements cannot substitute food. For the nutrients to be absorbed adequately, you have to eat healthy food.
Side Effects Of Being Overweight While Pregnant
If you are obese, losing weight during pregnancy may be beneficial for both you and your unborn child. Here is a list of issues that can occur due to having extra pounds:
1. Risks to the Baby
- Difficult monitoring of fetal development
- Risk of miscarriage, premature delivery, and stillbirth
- Increased possibility of the child also being larger than average, which can lead to obesity as an adult
- Risk of diabetes and heart disease later in life
- Doubled risk of neural tube defects
2. Risks to the Mother
- Higher risk of sleep apnea, which can lead to high blood pressure
- Greater risk of developing diabetes
- Higher chances of induced labor
- Increased possibility of a larger baby, which can make vaginal birth difficult
- Forming of blood clots which can cause complications during labor
- Greater chances of preeclampsia
- Increased chance of excessive blood loss and infection in case of a cesarean section
- Frequent UTI’s during and after the pregnancy
You are probably wondering can you lose weight while pregnant.
If your body mass index exceeds 30, your doctor will probably recommend changing your lifestyle for the benefit of you and your baby. The reason is, extra pounds can cause many issues during pregnancy and labor.
On the contrary, an extreme loss of body mass can endanger the well-being of your baby, leading to:
- Giving birth to an undersized baby
- High chances of a miscarriage
- Lesser amniotic fluid
- Problems in the cognitive development of the baby
Regardless of your constitution, you must take care of your health while bearing a child.
The safest way to lose weight while expecting is with a balanced, gradual pregnancy meal plan, approved by your doctor or dietician.