A significant increase in blood volume, amniotic fluid, and a growing baby add to the mother’s total body weight. Women who are already overweight or suffering from obesity will eventually gain some weight during pregnancy. However, they can lose problematic body fat and get rid of weight-related complications via safe applied methods & naturally during pregnancy. They become nauseous or have food aversions and unintentionally start losing weight during pregnancy (especially at the early stages). Regardless, one should always share all the symptoms with the doctor or health care provider.
Opting for extreme diets during pregnancy to lose weight is not advisable. You should eat enough to provide the baby and yourself with sufficient nutrients. It is essential for your overall health. At the time of pregnancy, going on diets, cutting calories or restricting food groups can impact the development of the foetus and deprive the body of required nutrients. It is essential to learn the risk associated with being overweight and the risk involved in losing that weight through unsolicited methods.
Risks of Being Overweight During Pregnancy
Obesity during pregnancy links to poor health outcomes for both the mother and the child. A study claims that the probability of conception decreases, starting from a BMI of 29 kg/m2. The same study claims that a high body mass index also increases the chances of various other risks like:
- High BP or blood pressure
- A severe form of gestational blood pressure or preeclampsia
- Gestational diabetes
- Intrauterine death
- Obstructive sleep apnea is a condition where you stop breathing for short periods during sleep.
Obstetricians watch blood pressure and blood sugar levels during pregnancy and lookout for signs of high blood pressure or gestational diabetes. Such women are given specific diets or exercise advice to mitigate such conditions to promote a healthy pregnancy & delivery.
Can you Safely Lose Weight when Pregnant?
Medical experts usually encourage women to eat enough nutrients and exercise daily to keep their babies healthy. In addition, most healthcare experts do not recommend pregnant women to follow a weight loss diet as it can increase complications for the baby. However, with more research and advancements, some healthcare experts believe that there are safe measures that one can take during pregnancy to lose or manage healthy body weight. Ideally, women should try to ward off the extra kilos before becoming pregnant to avoid unnecessary risks to their health and babies.
If the woman does not gain any weight during the pregnancy, she will start losing the fat stored. As a result, her body weight might reduce than before the pregnancy. If a woman loses weight during her first trimester of pregnancy, it is due to nausea or morning sickness. Severe morning sickness can also deprive the body of nutrients, and being on call with a doctor during the entire period is advisable. Weight gain is usually experienced by women during the second trimester when they slowly start to feel better.
Optimal Weight Gain Recommendations During Pregnancy
Women often meet with an obstetrician or their doctor to develop a care plan when they become pregnant. Your first visit will involve discussions regarding nutrition and physical activity. The weight gain guidelines will follow your starting weight as per your pregnancy. BMI may not be the perfect indicator of health, but according to the Institute of Medicine, there are different weight gain recommendations for women under different weights. Your BMI does not consider body composition, ethnicity, race, gender, or age. It is quite an incomplete measure but an easy method to analyse your potential health status and outcomes. It is pretty quick and hence holds value in the medical community. However, not all doctors follow BMI guidelines but use IMOM recommendations to guide women towards ideal weight goals.
Considering Weight Pre-Pregnancy
It would help if you considered your weight at the pre-pregnancy stage. Take guidance from the doctor or health care regarding shedding off any extra kilos or gaining an ideal weight to promote fertility & healthy pregnancy. People of all shapes & sizes can get pregnant, but as per studies, prematernal obesity can cause various complications. These complications include the risk of preeclampsia, preteen birth, and macrosomia, where the foetus is larger than the standard size. In addition, it can cause injury during childbirth. Therefore, one should consider positive, sustainable lifestyle changes to support a healthy weight and boost fertility.
Safe Ways to Manage Weight During Pregnancy
Eat Small Meals
Pregnant women should eat small but continuous meals throughout the day and keep snacking too but healthy. Ginger honey paste or ginger candies are said to ease nausea.
Avoid Fatty Foods
Morning sickness is a common symptom during pregnancy which increases because of deep-fried, heavy and oily food items.
Know Your Body Mass Index
If you want to make changes in your diet, you should keep track of your BMI or Body Mass Index. A normal BMI range is between 18.5 to 24.9, and thus it is advisable to not gain more than 10-12 kgs during your entire pregnancy. But if your BMI falls under 18, you should gain around 10-12 kgs. So weight gain should be 7-10 kgs with a BMI range between 25-29.9 and only 5-9 kgs if overweight.
Don’t Miss Your Dose of Vitamins, Minerals and Calcium
It is essential to consume your vitamins and iron or calcium supplements daily. It is crucial for the optimal growth and development of the baby. Also, please note that you do not combine iron and calcium for best absorption.
If you unintentionally start losing weight during your pregnancy, you may feel weak and feel like staying away from physical activity. In that case, talk to your doctor. Then, once you get the go-ahead, start a gentle form of exercises like walking or prenatal yoga. It would help if you kept at physical activity to eliminate pregnancy woes and abnormal weight gain.
You should be conscious of what is happening to your body. A gradual weight loss during the first trimester is average, but a sudden loss of 4-5 kilos can be dangerous, and you should immediately reach out to your doctor.
Cut Down on Calories
Be mindful of the number of calories you consume to keep the extra kilos at bay for your baby to remain healthy. A pregnant woman should consume at least 1700 calories per day. You should keep track so that you do not exceed the count or go below it. Stay hydrated.
It is always a good thing and beneficial for the body to stay hydrated – pregnant or not pregnant. However, if you indulge in physical activity during pregnancy, you need to add a few extra glasses of water. Drinking 1-2 litres of water will keep you full and keep overeating at bay.
Eat Healthy Snacks and Stay Active
You already know that you should avoid junk food and fill your platter with fresh fruits and vegetables. Go for whole-grain cereals and bread & low-fat dairy products. Spinach, strawberries and beans are rich sources of folates, while high-fibre foods help in better digestion. It also prevents constipation which is a very natural occurrence during pregnancy.
It is also necessary to stay active and go for at least 30 minutes of mild physical activity on most days of the week. You can discuss it with your doctor to find out that it also has a lot of stress-relieving benefits. Ensure you consult your doctor once as not all kinds of pregnancies can accommodate physical exercise. It might be a problem if you weigh on a heavier scale. If recommended, you can go walking, swimming, cycling, plus low-intensity exercises. Avoid exercising on higher altitudes and let go of any forms of exercise that require you to lay flat on your back – as it affects the blood flow to the foetus.
Tips for Diet and Exercise During Pregnancy
It is a given that a balanced and nutritious diet with a well-planned exercise plan is the need of the hour during your pregnancy. Your healthcare professional team should provide you with optimum advice for taking care of your baby. A few tips for the same include:
Tips for Healthy Eating
Always opt for a balanced diet when pregnant, while watching your portion and meal size. It is a healthy practice if you are worried about your weight. One should not go on a crash diet. Consult your physician if you consume any supplements or medications for weight loss.
Do not fall for the age-old concept of eating for two, i.e. including the baby, as the baby is tiny during the first trimester. Instead, one should eat balanced meals.
It is advised not to skip any meals and frequently eat for adequate nutrition. Go for lean protein like fish and chicken along with seafood. In addition, your diet should comprise less processed foods and sugar.
Refined grains vs whole gains? Go for whole-grain wheat, millets, quinoa, rice etc. but not white, refined grains. Your vegetable intake should be more and hence, fill your plate with lots of it during mealtime.
A registered dietician will always give you the best advice. Avoid sugary food items like ice cream and candies but go for apples, peanut butter etc. and high fibre fruits like berries or pears. Keep your sugar intake in check.
Pregnancy Exercise Tips
Physical activity is good for the body during pregnancy. One should never adopt a sedentary lifestyle and not go for strenuous physical activity. Walking has always proven to be an excellent and easy way of weight maintenance, and even sedentary women can benefit from it. Pregnancy yoga classes or prenatal fitness programs are also preferable. Keep in mind to follow a light to a moderate exercise regime. It will also help to deal with labour and postpartum recovery. Do not push too hard and find your comfort level with physical activities. Your primary focus should be on staying healthy during pregnancy. Something is better than nothing – do not sit idle.
Distribution of Weight During Pregnancy
As per studies, the pregnancy weight gained gets fairly distributed where the baby weighs around 3 to 3.5 kilograms when the pregnancy ends. Also, the amniotic fluid and the placenta come up to 1.5 kgs. An additional 2 kgs are due to the enlarged uterus and breasts.
Body fluids & blood: 4 kgs.
Fat & other nutrients: 3 kgs.
Total weight gain is around 10-15 kilos.
Pregnancy is a phase where you should take good care of yourself for your baby’s well-being. Put in your best efforts to lose the extra weight if you are overweight but always try to do so by healthy means. Your pregnancy can prove to be a good time for you to look at your health positively. It should not have any adverse effects on your body. It is a time for you to practice self-care and be alert and physically active. A healthy diet and exercise can avoid complications like gestational diabetes or high BP. Make sure to maintain a healthy weight and support a healthy pregnancy.
Take the help from a nutritionist to plan a nutritious meal & snack routine for your health. If you are worried about your baby’s growth, you must know that your baby is too tiny to absorb nutrients in the first trimester. Your baby will only grow via your fat reserves.
The very first priority of your body is the nourishment of the baby. However, it can also happen that you cannot digest all of the food due to morning sickness or nausea. Thus, it is better to consult a doctor in such situations. Being mentally fit is also equally essential to get through the pregnancy. You should be happy and send positive vibes to your baby. Avoid stress as much as possible and stay active. Pregnancy can be the happiest time for you. Stay active and positive, have proper food and get plenty of rest, and it will be a breezy phase for you.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q. Is it OK to lose weight during pregnancy?
A. It is OK to lose weight during pregnancy as long as it is healthily and safely. However, doctors do not recommend it.
Q. Can an overweight person lose weight during pregnancy?
A. Overweight women can lose weight during pregnancy by doing sufficient exercise and consuming a healthy diet. It will not negatively impact the baby’s well-being.
Q. Can I lose 10 pounds in the first trimester?
A. You can lose weight in the first trimester due to nausea and vomiting sensations. It’s not uncommon for women in their first trimester to lose weight due to bad bouts of nausea and vomiting that preclude them from eating normally. However, if the weight loss is severe, consult your doctor.
Q. How do models stay skinny during pregnancy?
A. Models can stay skinny during pregnancy because they begin their pregnancy journey at the desired weight, usually due to their healthy eating habits. So, it is easier for them to go back to that weight post-pregnancy. The idea is to eat healthily and not eat for two and pile on kilos. Therefore, you need to know what is good for you and how much you should eat.
Q. Can you get in shape while pregnant?
A. Yes, you can stay in shape when pregnant by incorporating moderate physical activities like walking, swimming and yoga.
Q. Do you lose weight when pregnant with a boy?
A. Compared to a woman carrying a female fetus, women with a male foetus have significantly increased maternal weight gain. There are certain studies available which correlate pregnancy weight gain with the gender of the baby. However, it is not gospel truth and is indicative based on the size of a sample.
Q. Do you burn more calories while pregnant?
A. No, you don’t need to burn more calories when pregnant. Your intestine muscles move slowly and slow down your digestion. It leads to a gas build-up with bloating, burping and flatulence.
Q. What is a plus-size pregnancy?
A. A pregnancy is said to be plus-size when your BMI or Body Mass Index is between 25 – 29.9, and you are tagged obese when you cross 30.
Q. Is it normal to lose weight at 32 weeks pregnant?
A. It is normal to lose weight at the end of your pregnancy. However, it will not affect the baby’s weight and happens due to increased physical activity and lower levels of amniotic fluid.
Q. How can I control my weight during pregnancy?
A. You can control your weight during pregnancy by consuming healthy food rich in vitamins and low in calories and fat. Consume cereals and crackers made of whole grains. Incorporate healthy protein and essential fats. Also, pregnancy does not mean eating double the quantity of what you usually eat. Please assess your nutritional requirement and look for a healthy plating method to fill your meals with colourful veggies, whole grains and lean proteins.