If you are overweight or obese and have just found out that you are pregnant — don’t panic. Around half of American women are in the same boat, and it is possible to have a healthy, safe pregnancy even if you are carrying extra weight to begin with. Read on to find out more about how to lose weight while pregnant — and what is safe and not safe for you and your growing baby.
How Much Weight Should You Gain if You Are Overweight or Obese?
Weight gain during pregnancy is inevitable — but how much you should gain safely should depending on your BMI at the time you get pregnant.
If you are overweight (with a BMI of 25-29.9), you should be gaining no more than 15-25 pounds during the course of the pregnancy. If you are obese (with a BMI of over 30), you should only gain 11-20 pounds.
You can use an online calculator to figure out your BMI — as well as what your recommended weight gain range should be.
Is Dieting During Pregnancy OK?
You probably are wondering at this point about how to lose weight while pregnant — and how to do this safely. The fact is that, though it is tempting, it is not ok to diet during pregnancy. Why? Because when you restrict calories in your diet, you are also restricting nutrients — nutrients which your growing baby needs to develop in a healthy way.
That being said, sometimes overweight or obese women do lose a little weight while they are pregnant. Often, this is due to the decreased appetite and morning sickness which can be especially common in the first trimester. Even if this happens, the extra calories that heavier-set women store as fat can give the growing baby the energy it needs to develop. This is a normal part of pregnancy — just remember not to try to intentionally reduce weight through calorie restriction.
How Do You Stay on Track with Weight Gain While You are Pregnant?
Safe weight gain during pregnancy can be difficult — but diet and exercise can help you to stay on track as your pregnancy advances. It is important to do this, because staying within the recommended range for weight gain will reduce your chances of developing complications like gestational diabetes or pre-eclampsia by 50% compared to women who gain more than they should. In short, it can greatly increase your chances of a healthy pregnancy.
The first thing to remember about your pregnancy diet is that you do not require any extra calories during your first trimester, but you will need an extra 350 calories during the second trimester and 450 calories in the third. However, these numbers can change depending on how much you weighed when you first got pregnant. Also, remembering to cut out certain foods from your diet — such as fish known to have high levels of mercury, unpasteurized dairy products like Brie or queso fresco, alcohol and caffeinated beverages can improve the quality of your diet — and the health of your baby.
In regards to exercise, there are also some rules to keep in mind to keep you and your baby safe. Be sure to talk to your doctor before beginning any exercise program — and avoid high-risk sports like climbing, skiing or horseback riding. Be sure to do a warm-up and cool-down, get extra water and food while you are staying active and don’t overtax yourself or get over-heated, as this is not good for the baby. Also make sure to change positions slowly, as it is easier to get light-headed or dizzy while pregnant. Keeping all this in mind sounds like a lot, but it can help you stay safe — and active — when you are expecting.