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Women's Health

Discover everything you need to know about women’s nutrition in this section devoted solely to woman’s issues. Topics covered include weight gain during menopause, and tips on how to detect and avoid breast cancer.

Everything to Know About Pregnancy Weight Loss and Gain

Knowing what to expect while pregnant and how to control pregnancy weight gain can help prevent complications and lead to a safe, healthy delivery for both mom and baby.

Everything to Know About Pregnancy Weight Loss and Gain


"Eating for two" tends to mislead women into overindulging during pregnancy which can lead to weight gain. Though pregnancy weight gain supports the needs of growing baby, gaining the expected amount is just as important.

What's more, women whose weight gain during pregnancy exceeds recommended ranges may experience various adverse maternal outcomes. Numerous consequences of gestational weight gain for the mother can include:

• Increased risk of pregnancy-related hypertension

• Gestational diabetes

• Complications during labor and delivery

• Postpartum weight retention and subsequent maternal obesity

• Difficulties breastfeeding

In the postpartum period, too, weight retention can lead to higher weight status in subsequent pregnancies. Other long-term maternal health consequences include a greater risk for type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

Obesity and pregnancy also puts baby at risk for miscarriage, birth defects, and preterm delivery. There is also a greater risk of macrosomia, a condition in which the baby has a higher birth weight than normal. This increases complications during pregnancy and the likelihood of being overweight or obese later in life.

Such risks might leave you wondering, "How much weight should I expect to gain?" Or, "Should I lose weight during pregnancy?" and, "How much weight do you lose after birth?"

We address these common questions and provide expert tips for weight management before, during, and after birth.

Pregnancy Weight Gain: What to Expect

Expected and recommended weight gain during pregnancy breaks down into categories based on body mass index (BMI) before pregnancy.

• Women with an average weight (BMI or 18.5 to 24.9) are recommended to gain 25 to 35 pounds.

• Underweight women (less than 18.5) should gain between 28 to 40 pounds.

• Overweight women (BMI 25 to 29) before pregnancy may only need to gain 15 to 25 pounds.

• Obese women (BMI of 30 or greater) should gain about 11 to 20 pounds.

There are also approximate weight gain guidelines if carrying twins, including the ranges based on the women's weight before getting pregnant:

• Women of an average weight should gain 37 to 54 pounds

• Overweight women should gain 31 to 50 pounds

• Obese women should gain 25 to 42 pounds

In addition to overall weight gain, there are more specific advice tailored to the three trimesters of pregnancy:

• First trimester: 1 to 4.5 pounds

• Second trimester: 1 to 2 pounds per week

• Third trimester: 1 to 2 pounds per week

On the contrary, some pregnant women may lose weight due to morning sickness and loss of appetite. A slight loss is common, though drastic reductions in weight can be a sign of an underlying health concern.

However, and while not recommended often, there are instances in which intentional weight loss can be beneficial. This especially serves true if a woman is considered severely obese.

Ultimately, though, weight management should be coordinated with a healthcare professional to ensure the health of both mom and baby.

How Many Calories Should I Eat?

Equipping the body with the right nutrients and calories each day helps ensure a healthy pregnancy. Though dependent on many factors, the average women with a pre-pregnancy BMI of 18.5 to 24.9 should consume the following:

• First trimester: 1,800 calories

• Second trimester: 2,200 calories

• Third trimester: 2,400 calories

These extra calories should be sourced from nutritious foods. A balanced, well-planned diet also ensures essential nutrients particularly important during pregnancy. These include protein, fiber, calcium, vitamin D, folate, and iron to name a few.

Baby Weight Loss After Birth

According to What to Expect, weight lost during delivery depends on the weight of the newborn, amniotic fluid, and placenta. However, most pregnant women can lose up to 12 pounds during delivery.

Losing the excess weight can be accomplished by adopting a healthy lifestyle. From practicing meal prep to staying active, implementing these strategies can help facilitate postpartum weight loss.

Ditch the Concept of "Dieting"

The word "diet" often comes with thoughts of calorie and food restrictions, which can even interfere with postpartum weight loss goals. And the last thing you want and need is added pressure of meeting and adhering to rigid diet guidelines.

Ditch so-called "diets" and incorporate a well-balanced variety of nutrient-dense foods, including:

• Whole grains

• Fruits and veggies

• Beans and other legumes

• Chicken, fish, and other lean proteins

• Milk and dairy products

• Nuts, seeds, and plant-based oils

But also allow indulgences on occasion, as feeling deprived of treats can ultimately lead to a binge later on.

Practice Meal Prep

Preparing freezer meals before the baby arrives is a common practice among pregnant women, supplying mom and family with convenient options.

But if baby has arrived and the freezer is empty, you can still benefit from the practice of meal prepping. When grandma is babysitting or baby is napping, use a few hours to prepare meals you can enjoy at home.

Increase Water Intake

Along with ensuring adequate nutrition, keep hydrated. Drinking more water not only lessens the risk of postpartum constipation, but can assist in your weight loss goals. And especially if swapping sugary beverages, water intake can save hundreds of calories.

Whether in the diaper bag or by the rocking chair, keep water bottles accessible and convenient. Having water on hand helps guarantee the general recommendation of 64-ounces of water daily.

Consider Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding is based on personal preference and should not be promoted as a means for weight loss. However, both mom and baby can benefit from the practice.

Breast milk is considered safe and fresh and offers easily digestible nutrients needed for optimal growth. Breastfed babies can reap the benefits of a strong immune system and lowered risks of infections, allergies, and certain health conditions.

Breastfeeding requires adequate nutrition and calories from mom, which may offer more diet leeway and accelerate weight loss efforts. In fact, breastfeeding exclusively can burn up to 500 calories per day. It is important, though, to eat enough to ensure adequate milk production.

But beyond physical health benefits, breastfeeding can nurture and strengthen the bond between mom and baby!

Take Power Naps

With a new baby, you may be falling short of the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep each night.

Inadequate sleep can take a hit to mood and energy levels while increasing cravings to high-sugar and calorie foods. And, unfortunately, regularly giving into these cravings can lead to some unwelcome weight gain.

A quick 20-minute power nap when baby is asleep can help deter such risks. It can likewise encourage a more positive mindset and mood to relish with your growing family.

Stay Active

Though fulfilling and honoring sleep cycles takes top presidency, tackle a workout whenever possible while considering these post-pregnancy workout tips.

Exercise can be quick and in the comfort of your own home. For instance, complete a fast 10-minute workout or 30-minute boot camp routine.

Mommy meet-ups are also gaining popularity and a beneficial resource. These meet-ups allow moms and babies to connect and interact at local areas while building relationships among both generations.

Explore Other Weight Loss Options

Becoming a new mom can be overwhelming, so do not hesitate to ask for help! Turn to family, friends, or professional help in times of need to ensure both physical and emotional help.

If desiring meal assistance and results in just a few weeks, a meal delivery service can come to your mommy rescue! Well-balanced, fast, and convenient meals directly to doorsteps takes the stress of tackling meal prep.

Individual plans meet nutritional needs and accommodate personal health goals, all while gaining endless support every step of the way!

Reference:

Healthy Weight Gain During Pregnancy. Institute of Medicine. http://resources.nationalacademies.org/Pregnancy/WhatToGain.html#

Written By Christy Zagarella, MS, RDN. Published on November 07, 2012. Updated on February 28, 2020.

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