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 baby’s weight – is normal and actually necessary. But too much excess pounds can lead to serious pregnancy complications and put your health and your baby’s health at risk.
Why Should You Lose Weight During Pregnancy?
Having excess weight during pregnancy can lead to health problems and complications which will affect both you and your baby. These include:
- Blood clots, particularly in your legs
- Sleep apnea
- High blood pressure
- Gestational diabetes
- Heart defects in baby
- Caesarian delivery
- Premature birth
With increased risks for certain complications and conditions already present, losing weight, while beneficial and necessary, also carries its own risks. Fortunately, there are safe ways for you to do it if your doctor recommends that you need to lose weight.
Safely Losing Weight During Pregnancy
Your doctor will advise you on how much weight you have to lose, as well as safe ways to lose weight. Below is a guide to get you on track to a healthy pregnancy weight.
Begin Weight Intervention and Management Early
The safest way to lose extra weight during pregnancy is by beginning early on, ideally between your 7th and 21st weeks. Too much weight gain usually occurs during the third trimester, but if weight intervention and management is done during the first trimester, you will significantly reduce the likelihood that you’ll have unhealthy weight-gain problems later.
While you need to eat more when pregnant, you still have to watch what and how much you eat. In fact, you should be more mindful of your diet because you’re completely responsible for your baby’s nutrition.
As early in the pregnancy as possible, make a healthy diet plan that is appropriate for your condition and for each stage of your baby’s growth in your tummy. If you stick to a healthy diet plan from the beginning, you will prevent any weight problems for the duration of your pregnancy and even after.
Cut Back on Your Calorie Intake
If you’re 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 wouldn’t 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 won’t 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 baby’s.
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.
Perform Moderate Exercises
Moderate exercise is safe during pregnancy, and can actually be beneficial especially when it’s time to give birth. Regular exercise will not only help you lose excess pounds; it will also ease pregnancy aches and pains and reduce the risk of birth defects.
Of course, there are some exercises that you should not perform, such as situps and weight-lifting. But low-impact, full-body exercises are safe. Aim for 30 minutes of activity per day; you can break down these 30 minutes into 3, ten-minute sessions spread throughout the day. The best exercises for pregnant women include:
- Prenatal yoga
Avoid activities that require balance (such as riding the bike); exposes you to too much heat; causes dizziness and/or pain; and, after the first trimester, that requires you to be on your back.
How to Safely Lose Weight During Pregnancy – Final Thoughts
Weight gain is a normal part of pregnancy and unless it puts your pregnancy at risk, there’s no need to follow any weight-loss plan. If you were at a healthy weight prior to pregnancy, all you’ll have to do is manage your weight gain during the entirety of your pregnancy to make sure you don’t gain too much. But if you do have too many excess pounds during pregnancy, you should take steps to lose weight for your health as well as your baby’s.
A combination of healthy eating and regular, moderate exercise should be enough to help you safely lose weight without compromising the nutrient needs of you and your baby and without putting too much strain on your already delicate condition.
Always seek and follow your doctor’s advice with regards to what you can and cannot do to achieve a healthy pregnancy weight. It’s just as important not to stress too much over your weight as stress can also negatively impact your pregnancy.
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