Losing Weight During Pregnancy

Is Weight Loss During Pregnancy Normal?

Weight loss during pregnancy, especially in the first trimester, can be normal, but it’s not normal to be at a lower weight in the second trimester than you were before you got pregnant, even if you’re classified as overweight or obese. If you find yourself in this camp, you absolutely need to speak with your doctor and possibly see a nutritionist to devise some strategies to increase your energy intake.

American Pregnancy discusses some strategies for meeting your nutritional needs during pregnancy and even lays out how the weight gained during pregnancy is distributed. If morning sickness is an issue or you find you aren’t taking in enough food, focus on higher calorie, healthy foods such as nuts and oils, which shouldn’t make you feel like you are eating extra and can be added to meals quickly and easily.

If you feel that you aren’t gaining enough weight because you are afraid of the weight gain, and worried about taking it off after, it may be best to speak to a counselor or psychologist for some help coping with your changing body image. Pregnancy can be a scary time for women who are very devoted to maintaining a certain physique, and changes beyond your control will happen. If you get assistance to cope with your fears while pregnant, you’ll likely be better off after pregnancy as your body recovers.

Is It Safe To Lose Weight During Pregnancy?

If you struggle with morning sickness (or all-day sickness!) you may have a hard time keeping food down in the first trimester of pregnancy, and you may find yourself losing weight during the first trimester instead of gaining. You may be wondering, is it safe to lose weight during pregnancy? This is normal and generally OK, but there are a few considerations to make.

First and foremost, you must stay hydrated.  Most of us carry enough body fat that if we are in a calorie deficit for several weeks or up to a couple of months, we will be fine.  However, if you’re chronically dehydrated, that could spell bad news for you and your baby. As mentioned above, for most people, changing from eating higher calorie, processed foods to lean protein sources, fresh fruit, and vegetables usually causes a decrease in calorie intake, so it’s just as important to understand your nutritional needs for calories overall when making dietary changes.

In addition, you must keep an open line of communication with your doctor about how much weight you’re losing.  If you’re lean or underweight to begin with, you don’t have as much “wiggle room” to lose weight and still be safe.  If your weight loss becomes significant for you, it can absolutely become cause for concern. Low weight gain during pregnancy is a risk factor for infant mortality, so the child’s size, growth and vitals should be monitored if this is a concern. That’s why you must keep your doctor in the loop so they can alert you if your weight loss is significant enough for concern.

It is possible to lose weight during pregnancy.

Weight gain is a fear for many women, and debate continues to exist over how much weight, or how little weight, is safe to gain during pregnancy. Any pregnancy-based website will have information about weight gain, and many such as The Bump include personal stories from women, all terrified of gaining weight. Some women embrace the “eating for two” idea and aren’t bothered by it, but if you’re reading this, odds are that you have some concern over how much weight you gain in pregnancy.

You don’t hear much about losing weight during pregnancy, beyond that it’s generally not recommended. However, if a woman starts eating healthy and exercising when she hadn’t before, coupled with the increased calorie needs of pregnancy, she may not gain as much weight as is normal or recommended, or may even lose weight.

Is It Normal To Lose Weight During Pregnancy If You’re Overweight?

Over the past few years, you may have heard that women who carry significant amounts of excess body fat can safely lose weight in pregnancy and have a healthy pregnancy, However, the most recent research does not recommend weight loss during pregnancy, and instead, the recommendation for gestational weight gain in obese women is 11 to 20 pounds.

Again, is it normal to lose weight during pregnancy? It’s normal for some women to lose weight in the first trimester of pregnancy, but in general, it’s not normal or safe for women to lose weight throughout their pregnancy. It is, on the other hand, safe for overweight or obese women to gain less than the recommended 25 to 35 pounds, which is the general guideline for women who fall into the “normal weight” category.

Of course, there will always be exceptions where an overweight or obese woman gains no weight and has a healthy pregnancy, but every woman’s pregnancy is a unique experience, and the best recommendations are those based off of large studies of hundreds or thousands of women over a long period of time, not a single woman’s experience!

Additional resources regarding weight loss during pregnancy:

  1. UMD Right Now, Inadequate Pregnancy Weight Gain a Risk Factor for Infant Mortality.  http://www.umdrightnow.umd.edu/news/inadequate-pregnancy-weight-gain-risk-factor-infant-mortality
  2. Kapadia MZ, (2015). Can we Safely Recommend Gestational Weight Gain Below the 2009 Guidelines in Obese Women? A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Obstetrics Review, 16(3): 189-206.  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25598037
  3. Kapadia MZ, Park CK (2015). Weight Loss Instead of Weight Gain within the Guidelines in Obese Women during Pregnancy: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analyses of Maternal and Infant Outcomes. Plos One, 10(7).  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26196130
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