You’re usually told that you shouldn’t compromise on a healthy diet during pregnancy as your baby needs all the vital nutrients and minerals for healthy growth, but what if you’re overweight even before you get pregnant?
Obesity itself can cause enough health problems for one, but obesity and pregnancy, the combination could lead to several types of complications during pregnancy and birth. There is an increased risk of preeclampsia and gestational diabetes, and the baby could suffer from certain birth defects.
Previously weight loss during pregnancy was not encouraged as it was believed that it could harm the baby, but today, you can lose weight without having any negative effects on the baby through pregnancy-friendly exercises and healthy diets.
What are the Health Risks of Obesity During Pregnancy?
The complications that obese pregnant mothers may face are as follows:
- Blood clots
- High blood pressure
- Gestational diabetes
- Heavier blood flow post delivery
- Caesarian section delivery
- Premature birth
- Sleep apnea
The health risks that the baby could face could be any of the following:
- High birth weight
- Birth defects such as spina bifida
- Excessive body fat
- Risk of heart conditions or diabetes in later stages of life
- Premature birth
Slow and Gradual Weight Loss During Pregnancy
As your baby depends on you not only after birth but also during the gestational period, you should take care of your diet and your body so your baby can be nourished and survive a safe pregnancy. You should consult your doctor or a pre-natal dietician for the best diet plan and weight loss process.
Your weight loss process shouldn’t be all too sudden but gradual and consistent. It would only be the best way for you and your little one. Here are some tips that would help you in consistent and gradual weight loss.
Keep track of How much Weight you Should Gain
Keep in mind that there is a life growing and developing inside of you, and you will be gaining some weight. You just need to know how much you should be gaining and how much would be considered healthy. Some weight gain guidelines that you should take a look at are as follows:
- BMI 30 or 30+: obese: expected weight gain 11-20 pounds
- BMI 25-29.9: expected weight gain 15-25 pounds
- BMI 18.5-24.9: normal, expected weight gain 25-35 pounds
- BMI below 18.5: underweight, expected weight gain 28-40 pounds
You should start managing your diet plan in a way that all the required nutrients are fulfilled for your body and the baby but excess calories are not taken to avoid weight gain. The number of calories you take shouldn’t be more than the number of calories you burn.
To lose one pound, your body should be deficient in about 3500 calories, so you would need to cut off 500 calories per day to drop a pound in a week. Trimester-wise, your calorie intake should be as follows:
- 1st trimester: no additional calories as to the daily calorie intake prior to pregnancy
- 2nd trimester: 340 calories additional per day
- 3rd trimester: 450 calories additional calories to the daily calorie intake before pregnancy.
Consult your healthcare provider and cut your calorie intake accordingly such that would help you and not harm your baby. You can keep a note of your daily calorie intake, and your pre-natal dietician can help you with how much you should cut off. The groceries you buy would have the number of calories of the item on the product label, which would help you keep track of it.
Some ways in which you can cut off calories could be:
- Cutting out condiments
- Having smaller portions
- Having fresh fruits instead of baked goods
- Have unsaturated fats (olive oil/canola oil) instead of saturated fats (butter)
- Instead of other sources of carbs, go for vegetables
- Hydrate yourself with water instead of consuming sugary drinks
- Try to avoid eating junk foods
Take care that while you’re cutting calories, you should also be fulfilling your daily nutrient requirements with what you consume for the well-being and proper development of your baby.
While some women might be careful not to carry out many physical activities, as they think it might hurt their baby, you should know that pregnancy-friendly exercises can prove to be very beneficial. We all know that regular exercise overall is very healthy for the body. Some exercises could harm expecting moms and should be avoided, but overall, it is quite beneficial.
Some of the positive impacts of regular exercises during pregnancy are that they could help reduce some body pains, maintain weight, and help reduce the risk of premature delivery.
It would be best if you were careful of how you carry out your exercise before you get pregnant and during your pregnancy. If you were exercising half an hour consistently before pregnancy, during pregnancy, you should break that time into breaks as you may run out of breath quickly. Some of the best types of exercises during pregnancy are as follows:
Physical activities that should be avoided during pregnancy are:
- Exercise that causes pain
- Make you dizzy
- Cycling or other exercises that require body balancing
- Exercises in heat
- Exercises that are done on the back, especially in the 2nd and 3rd trimesters
Address Weight Concerns Early:
You can’t control the weight gain due to the growth of the baby and the weight attributed to the fetus, such as that of the placenta. During the last 2 trimesters, you gain most of your weight as the baby grows more during that time. You should address these weight gain issues early or, ideally, by the end of the first trimester, for professional advice in order to control your weight gain.
If you want to control your weight gain throughout your pregnancy, consult a doctor and try to eat healthy foods, and avoid extra carbs. Your doctor then, depending upon your condition, would refer you to a professional dietician for a proper diet plan which would be helpful for you and your baby.
Don’t do everything on your own, and don’t depend on the internet entirely. Everybody and every pregnancy are different, and you should talk to your doctor about your concerns and weight beforehand and on time before it’s too late. Let them know of your concerns and what you want, and they will plan accordingly. You may be referred to a pre-natal dietician for better advice or a proper diet plan. You can get guidelines on your diet as well as your exercise routine, which would help you and your baby.
You can go for pre-natal supplements if you feel you’re not getting enough nutrients and the required calories. You should take care of your nutrient and mineral supply on your end, and the gaps can be filled by the pre-natal supplements. There is a difference between pre-natal supplements and multivitamins. Where multivitamins are only for your body’s requirements, pre-natal vitamins consist of adequate nutrients required by both your body and your baby’s growth.
To avoid any birth defects or other defects, such as neural tube defects, the pre-natal vitamins contain an adequate amount of iron to prevent anemia in the mother, which is pretty common among expecting moms.
Anything at extreme levels harms the baby, such as extreme amounts of food or extreme diet and exercise. Everything should be done within the healthy range. It is very much possible to have a healthy pregnancy being obese, but there are many health risks for the baby.
Precautionary measures should be taken to reduce the chances of any health risks. Mothers should maintain a healthy diet and consult their dietician occasionally to update their progress and reports. Extra calories and carbs should be cut off, and healthier diets should be opted for.
Other than that, the key to a healthy life is a healthy lifestyle. Lifestyle change should be bought about by consuming healthy foods and exercising regularly. Pregnant women should go for pregnancy-friendly exercises to avoid any harm.