Losing Weight During Pregnancy: Is It Safe?
You may have been trying to lose weight and then suddenly discover that you’re pregnant. If you have a lot of weight to lose, you might wonder whether it’s safe to continue losing weight while you’re pregnant. Plus, some women panic thinking that if they gain too much weight, it’ll be impossible to take off. In response, they cut back on how much they’re eating.
Dieting during pregnancy is typically not a good idea. When you’re pregnant, you’re providing the fetus growing inside you with proper nourishment. The nutrients you give a baby when they’re developing an affect their growth and their brain health after they’re born. If you’re dieting, you may not be getting enough vitamins, minerals to support the health of you and your baby.
Is Losing Weight During Pregnancy Even Safe?
Whether it’s safe for women who are obese to lose weight during pregnancy is controversial. Women who are significantly overweight or obese are at greater risk of losing a pregnancy, having a stillbirth or a preterm birth. Obesity also increases the risk of giving birth to a baby that’s larger than normal and delivering a baby with a birth defect. Being obese during pregnancy also makes complications more likely, including gestational diabetes and pre-clampsia. Plus, if you’re obese, you’re more likely to need a caesarean section for delivery. These are all valid concerns. Still, the best time to lose weight to reduce the risk of these complications is BEFORE becoming pregnant rather than trying to lose weight while you’re pregnant.
What Happens if You Lose or Don’t Gain Weight When You’re Pregnant?
One study showed that moms who gained little or no weight during pregnancy were more likely to deliver an infant that was small for their age, with a smaller head, and a less healthy body composition. It seems that a certain amount of weight gain is necessary for lowering the risk of problems like this. The amount of weight your obstetrician recommends that you gain will vary depending on how much you currently weigh. If you’re significantly overweight or obese, they may recommend that you only gain a modest amount of weight.
The Bottom Line
Pregnancy isn’t the time for crash diets to weight loss, even if you do have extra weight you’d like to lose. Instead, eat a variety of nutritionally dense whole foods, especially fruits and vegetables, to supply your growing baby the nutritional support it needs. Limit the amount of sugar, salt, and processed carbohydrates in your diet. Packaged foods and processed carbs are usually higher in calories and lower in nutrition.
If your doctor gives the okay, take a brisk walk each day. If you’re obese, get your doctor’s recommendation on how much weight they’d like for you to gain. Also, keep in mind that there’s plenty of time to lose weight after you’ve delivered. The priority now is to give the baby growing inside you every nutritional advantage.
NHS Choices. “Overweight and Pregnant”
Medscape Family Medicine. “Maternal and Neonatal Outcomes in Obese Women Who Lose Weight During Pregnancy”
The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists “Obesity and Pregnancy”