Consult With A Registered Dietitian
If its determined that losing weight is important for the health of your pregnancy and for a healthy delivery, you will need to work closely with a healthcare provider to ensure that you are getting the nutrition and calories you need, both for yourself and your growing baby.
Again, since healthcare providers rarely recommend weight loss, when they do, they will be working carefully with you to ensure that the weight loss is done in a safe manner.
Tips For Healthy Eating
“Dieting during pregnancy can be difficult to assess,” says Dr. Rhee, “as it is important to eat a balanced diet while pregnant.” But she adds that watching portion control can be a healthy practice to continue in pregnancy if your weight is a concern.
She also stresses that if you are on medications or supplements to aid weight loss, you should speak to your health care provider to make sure that they are safe during pregnancy. Lastly, Dr. Rhee advises that diets in which one eliminates certain food groups altogether should be avoided.
Dr. Gersh advises that overweight pregnant women continue to eat wisely and eat large amounts of vegetables while adding some additional protein. “Stop trying to lose weight but dont abandon your overall plan to be healthy,” she says. “Dont focus on weight gain or weight loss. Rather, focus on getting lots of high quality, nutrient-dense foods into your diet and nature will take care of things naturally.”
Deborah Malkoff-Cohen, MS, RD, CDN, CDE adds that eating for two is an outdated recommendation, especially during the first trimester when the baby is very small. She suggests these tips to create the most healthy diet during pregnancy if you are overweight or obese:
Frequently Asked Questionsexpand All
- What is obesity?
Being overweight is defined as having a body mass index of 25 to 29.9. Obesity is defined as having a BMI of 30 or greater. Within the general category of obesity, there are three levels that reflect the increasing health risks that go along with increasing BMI:
Obesity category IBMI of 30 to 34.9
Obesity category IIBMI of 35 to 39.9
Obesity category IIIBMI of 40 or greater
You can find out your BMI by using an online BMI calculator.
Obesity during pregnancy puts you at risk of several serious health problems:
PreeclampsiaPreeclampsia is a serious form of gestational hypertension that usually happens in the second half of pregnancy or soon after childbirth. This condition can cause the woman’s kidneys and liver to fail. In rare cases, seizures, heart attack, and stroke can happen. Other risks include problems with the placenta and growth problems for the fetus.
Gestational diabetesHigh levels of glucose during pregnancy increase the risk of having a very large baby. This also increases the chance of cesarean birth. Women who have had gestational diabetes have a higher risk of diabetes mellitus in the future. So do their children.
StillbirthThe higher the womans BMI, the greater the risk of stillbirth.
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Will My Baby Be Affected If I Lose Weight During Pregnancy
Fortunately, no. In the first trimester, your baby is too tiny to draw out a large amount of nutrients. Your fat reserves are enough for her/him to grow. “The body’s first priority is to nourish the baby and thus it uses maternal reserves,” adds Dr Mukherjee. However, if you are unable to keep any food down due to severe nausea and morning sickness, consult a doctor.
Weight Loss In The First Trimester
Most women gain only between 1 and 5 pounds in the first three months of pregnancy, so if youre experiencing weight loss in your first trimester, chances are, its nothing to worry about. Its not uncommon for women in their first trimester to lose a little bit of weight due to bad nausea and vomiting that precludes them from eating in a normal way, says Henderson. A loss of appetite because of the morning sickness is a common cause of pregnancy weight loss too. According to Henderson, its only a cause for concern if pregnancy weight loss hits 5 and 10 percent of a womans total body weight.
Weight loss during pregnancy could also happen if youve begun exercising daily and making a point of eating healthier foods for you and baby. If thats the case you might need a few extra calories throughout the day to support your quickly-growing baby.
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Is It Safe To Lose Weight During Pregnancy
Women who are obese can reduce the risk of certain complications such as gestational diabetes and preeclampsia by losing weight during pregnancy. But their weight loss program should be monitored by a doctor or medical professional.
Usually, pregnant women are not encouraged to lose weight or follow a weight loss diet during pregnancy. It is normal for a pregnant woman to lose weight during the first trimester because of morning sickness or loss of appetite but then again she would gain it and perhaps more in the next two trimesters.
Can You Lose Fat During Pregnancy
Are you pregnant and feel like youre gaining too much weight?
Are you wondering if there is a safe and effective way to lose fat?
You are in the right place.
In this article you are going to learn everything you need to know about fat loss during pregnancy.
Lets get started.
Although I am a doctor, I am not your doctor. This information is for informational purposes only and should not substitute the advice from your healthcare professional. All kinds of exercise and dietary changes are potentially dangerous, and those who do not seek counsel from the appropriate health care authority assume the liability of any injury which may occur. Please read my full Disclaimer for more information. Also, this post may contain affiliate links: meaning I may receive a commission if you use them.
Ok, moving on.
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Is Losing Weight While Pregnant Safe
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists encourages women to reach a healthy weight before getting pregnant. According to the organization, even a small amount of weight loss can make a difference.
Losing weight before you become pregnant is the best way to decrease the risk of problems caused by obesity. Losing even a small amount of weight can improve your overall health and pave the way for a healthier pregnancy.
But what if you get pregnant unexpectedly and your body mass index falls into the overweight or obese categories? Or what if you are following a healthy diet and exercise program for weight loss and you get pregnant before you reach your goal?
Dr. Dr. Julie Rhee is a reproductive endocrinologist and infertility specialist and Director of the Preimplantation Genetic Screening Program at Vios Fertility Institute in St. Louis. She is double board-certified in obstetrics and gynecology as well as reproductive endocrinology and infertility .
According to Dr. Rhee, if you are overweight or obese, there is no need to discontinue a healthy diet and exercise program once you get pregnant. She adds a few cautions, however, for weight loss during pregnancy.
“Drastic weight loss would be discouraged in pregnancy, but a healthy diet consisting of exercise and portion control with well-balanced meals can be started during pregnancy.”
Julie Rhee, M.D.
Weight Loss Through Week 40
No need for a new maternity wardrobe? Don’t worry. Plus-size women may not gain as much weight during pregnancy as normal-weight or underweight moms-to-be and this is totally fine and should have no impact on your baby’s development. We’ve seen larger women gain as little just five pounds, or in some cases, even lose weight, while they’re expecting. Here’s why:
During pregnancy, very little of the weight you gain goes to the actual growth of your baby. Most is used to build up fat stores so you have energy for the challenges that lie ahead . If you already have enough stored, you won’t pack on as many pounds as women who need to gain more.
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How To Safely Lose Weight During Pregnancy
There are health and medical reasons to lose weight during pregnancy. One is if you were already overweight or obese before pregnancy and another is if you gained too much weight during pregnancy.
Some weight gain during pregnancy or your own extra weight aside from the babys weight is normal and actually necessary. But too much excess pounds can lead to serious pregnancy complications and put your health and your babys health at risk.
Weight Loss In Late Pregnancy
Growing babies gain the most weight during the final trimester, so you likely will too. Thats why weight loss in the third trimester could be especially disconcerting. Losing weight while pregnant at this late stage could be related to poor baby growth, low amniotic fluid or pregnancy-induced hypertension or preeclampsia. If youre losing weight and its beyond your first trimester, call your provider. It could very well be something harmlesssuch as fluctuations in day-to-day water retentionsays Shah. But to be safe, its always best to consult with your doctor.
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Distribution Of Weight During Pregnancy
If you are wondering where does all that pregnancy weight go, then you are not alone asking this question. The amount of weight gained is fairly distributed. Heres a breakdown of the weight you gain during pregnancy.
- The baby weighs around 3 to 3.5 kg by the end of the pregnancy.
- The placenta and amniotic fluid make up about 1.5 kg.
- An enlarged uterus and engorged breasts can mean an additional 2 kg.
- Bodily fluids and blood can weigh up to 4 kgs, while fat and other nutrients constitute nearly 3 kgs. So the total weight gained could be anywhere between 10 to 15 kilos.
Diet And Exercise During Pregnancy
A balanced, nutritious diet becomes more important during pregnancy. And a program of physical activity is helpful as well. Your healthcare team can provide you with the best personalized advice. But there are also some general diet and exercise tips you can use to start a conversation with your doctor.
How Can I Lose Back Fat While Pregnant
As I mentioned above, it is quite difficult to lose fat in a particular area. Studies have shown that you cannot spot reduce fat from specific parts of your body.
Instead, you can focus on building muscle which can help get rid of excess, unwanted fat.
I have an entire article on losing back fat postpartum that may be relevant.
*Note, some of the exercises in that post are done on your back or stomach. While pregnant, it is important to not do any sort of exercise where you are flat on your back or on your stomach.*
Weight Loss Or Weight Gain During Pregnancy Depends On What Stage You Are On Here’s Expert Tips For You
Should you be worried if you are losing weight during pregnancy?
Being pregnant is synonymous with piling on kilos, but what if you notice that you’re actually losing weight instead? If you’re a first time mom-to-be, a drop in the numbers on your weighing scale might worry or even confuse you. But here’s something that you should know – losing weight when you’re expecting is normal, however it depends on which stage of pregnancy you are in.
Why Do Overweight Women Need To Manage Weight During Pregnancy
According to the UKs National Health Services , being overweight increases the risk of a miscarriage, gestational diabetes, preeclampsia , blood clots, postpartum hemorrhage, and heavy babies in the mother.
In the babies, there could be risk of stillbirth or early birth . However, these risks are not unique to women who are overweight because they could happen in any pregnant woman .
The NHS recommends women not to try losing weight during pregnancy even if they are very overweight.
The best way to avoid weight issues during pregnancy is to reduce weight before conception. But if you have conceived even as you were trying to lose weight, make sure you are having a controlled weight gain so that you are not crossing the threshold of the recommended weight gain .
Dont Forget Your Kegels
Youve probably heard that Kegels are a great exercise for moms-to-be, but theyre also very important after birth. Some new moms might experience pelvic floor weakness, and Kegels are the easiest ways to relieve this issue. You can start doing your Kegels immediately after birth, even if at first you might not feel yourself doing them.
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If I’m Obese And Pregnant Is It Too Late To Reduce These Risks
Its unlikely that you can reduce all risks. But there are plenty of things you can do to make sure you have a healthier pregnancy, such as:
- go to all your antenatal appointments, scans and make sure you have any recommended blood pressure or gestational diabetes tests
- take all the recommended supplements
- follow any specialist advice from a dietitian or anyone else involved in your care.
Other Causes Of Weight Loss
If morning sickness is not to blame, unintentional weight loss during pregnancy, especially sudden weight loss, is a concern and should be evaluated by a medical doctor as soon as possible. Likewise, weight loss due to changes in diet, eating disorders, food insecurity, and intentional dieting are not safe and should be discussed with your care provider. Some other potential causes of weight loss during pregnancy include:
- Autoimmune disorders
- Undiagnosed diabetes
- Other chronic diseases
“The most important intervention for a woman who is losing weight in pregnancy is to identify and treat the underlying reason for the inadequate weight gain,” says Dr. Han.
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Your Care In Pregnancy
If you are obese in pregnancy, you’ll be offered a test for gestational diabetes.
You may also be referred to an anaesthetist to discuss issues such as pain relief in labour. You’re more likely to have an instrumental delivery , and it can be difficult for an epidural to be given.
Talk to your midwife or doctor about your birth options. Ask if there are any particular safety concerns for you around giving birth at home or in a birthing pool.
You may be advised to give birth in a hospital where there’s easy access to medical care if you need it.
Find out more about your options on where to give birth.
Can You Follow A Weight Loss Diet During Pregnancy
It is not advisable for pregnant women to go on crash diets or lower their calorie intake during pregnancy. A weight loss diet can lead to mental retardation or respiratory and neurological issues due to the unavailability of nutrients and micronutrients which are necessary from early pregnancy Cutting down on calories during pregnancy can increase the risk of obesity in a child in the later years of his life.
A healthy diet which constitutes of whole foods and fibre-rich foods is essential during pregnancy. Consult with your doctor about the dietary changes you need to incorporate to lead a healthy lifestyle. Include fruits, vegetables, and lean protein in your diet and avoid consuming processed food, sugary foods, and liquid calories.
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Cut Back On Your Calorie Intake
If youre already at an unhealthy weight and have been advised to lose some of it, you will have to start keeping track of your calorie intake. Cutting back on calories when not pregnant is different from cutting back calories when pregnant. You wouldnt want to end up depriving your baby of the nutrients he/she needs by slashing way too many calories from your daily diet.
You may need to consult your doctor or a dietitian to find out how many calories per day you should consume. The easiest way to keep track of your calorie intake is to make a weekly meal plan. This way, you wont have to count your calories during every meal. Check nutritional labels when doing your groceries, or find recipes online that already specify how many calories are present.
Generally, a pregnant woman should not eat fewer than 1,700 calories a day. This is the minimum needed to support both your energy and nutrient needs and those of your babys.
Here are simple ways to reduce your calorie intake:
- Eat smaller portions.
- Use plant-based oils, such as olive oil, and skip unhealthy fats, such as butter.
- Eat more fresh fruits and vegetables and less of traditional carbs.
- Keep junk foods and sweet desserts to a minimum.
- Drink water instead of soda and other sweetened beverages.
When Can I Resume Losing Weight
You should talk to a healthcare provider about when exactly it will become safe for you to lose weight after you give birth. Generally speaking, it is safe to begin losing weight within a few weeks of giving birth.
You will naturally begin to lose weight in the days and weeks following birth, though much of that will be fluid loss, says Shapiro. After that, your weight will naturally shift to fat loss. Postpartum weight loss should happen gradually and the focus should be on nourishing foods, says Phelps. Dont forget that you are recovering from pregnancy and labor, and postpartum is a time to recover.
If you are breastfeeding, you should keep in mind that breastfeeding requires extra calories and that if you lose weight too quickly, you will likely begin to feel depleted. According to the CDC, breastfeeding requires an additional 450-500 calories, so you should factor that in as you consider losing weight while breastfeeding. Again, rather than restricting calories, focusing on eating whole foods and finding ways to incorporate healthy movement into your day should be the focus.
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