9 Safe Ways To Lose Weight While Pregnant

Ways To Lose Weight While Pregnant

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Putting on weight during pregnancy? Well, that is pretty normal and healthy too. Your body keeps on growing and undergoes changes to accommodate the growing baby. For this, a normal weight woman needs an extra 300 calories a day than what she required before pregnancy.

But what if you are underweight, overweight or obese? How much should be the recommended pregnancy weight gain? MomJunction tells you all about the weight gain in pregnancy here.

Tool To Check Pregnancy Weight:

Your pregnancy weight gain requirement depends on your weight before pregnancy – whether you are underweight, healthy weight, overweight or obese, or if you are carrying multiples (twins or more).

pregnancy weight gain
Pounds (lb)
  Feet
  Inches
No   Yes
Pounds (lb)

Kilograms (kg)
Centimeters
NO Yes
Kilograms (kg)

You can check out the category under which you fall, and get your target weight range with this pregnancy weight gain calculator. For this, you should know your pre-pregnancy weight, current pregnancy week, your height, your present weight and if you are carrying multiple babies.

This calculator estimates the ideal weight gain during pregnancy week by week. The amount of weight you should gain always depends on your pre-pregnancy weight.

Pregnancy Weight Gain Chart

Pre-pregnancy BMICategoryRecommended weight gain
18.5 – 24.9Normal25-25lb (11-16kg)
< 18.5Underweight28-40lb (13-18kg)
25-29.9Overweight15-25lb (7-11kg)
> 30Obese11-20lb (5-9kg)

In the case of twin babies or multiples, the ideal weight gain should be 37 to 54lb or 16.5 to 24.5kg (1).

The above table helps you know your target weight gain and aim to reach the desired weight levels.

But does the weight that you gain constitute only fat? Also when your baby weighs only a few pounds during birth, it can leave you wondering where the remaining pounds went.

Distribution Of Weight During Pregnancy:

The weight that you gain during pregnancy falls under various categories. The average distribution could be as follows (2):

  • Baby’s weight – 7½lb
  • Placenta – 1½lb
  • Amniotic fluid – 2lb
  • Uterus – 2lb
  • Large breasts – 2lb
  • Body fluids – 4lb
  • Blood – 4lb
  • Fats and other nutrients – 7lb

You require weight in all of these areas to have a healthy baby and to prepare your body for nursing.

Side Effects Of Overweight During Pregnancy:

If you are overweight or obese during pregnancy, you are likely to have the following complications.

1. Gestational diabetes:

Obese women are about four times more likely to develop gestational diabetes than normal women. Therefore, they need a C-section delivery and are likely to give birth to large babies who are at a higher risk of developing congenital disabilities or need a C-section delivery (3).

2. Preeclampsia:

Women with an extremely high BMI are at a risk of preeclampsia or high BP. It can increase the chances of premature birth, blood clots or stroke.

3. Infection:

Overweight women are at an increased risk of infections during pregnancy and also after giving birth.

[ Read: Infections During Pregnancy ]

4. Obstructive sleep apnea:

Obesity commonly causes sleep apnea in people. Pregnancy aggravates this problem in obese women (4).

5. Labor problems:

Obese women are more likely to need induction to kickstart labor. It can also interfere with an epidural block, making the whole labor process a nightmare (5).

6. Pregnancy loss:

Chances of miscarriage go up in obese women. So are the risks of stillbirths.

7. Higher chances of caesarean:

Overweight women usually have less muscle tone in the midsection, and therefore they possess less strength which is not sufficient to push out the babies. Also, the extra fats deposited within the birth canal make the push more stressful for the baby to slip out.

8. Greater risk of birth defects:

Babies born to overweight and obese women have a higher risk of having spina bifida than those born to normal weight women. Also, the risk of hydrocephalus in the babies is 60% higher, heart defect is 30% higher (6) and cleft lip is 20% higher.

9. Inability to detect birth defects:

Though ultrasound is the best tool to detect defects in the babies in the womb, the distance the sound waves travel is limited. Obese women carry three or more inches of fat on the abdominal wall, which will limit the waves to pass inside; therefore limiting the defects to be identified.

10. Pregnancy symptoms:

Some of the common pregnancy problems, such as back pain, headaches, pelvic pressure, heartburn and carpal tunnel syndrome, occur more often in overweight mothers.

How To Lose And Manage Weight When Pregnant?

Many women lose weight while pregnant in the first and last trimester. This is especially common with obese women. But if you start losing weight drastically, talk to your doctor. Most of this weight loss happens because of morning sickness and digestion problems. So, while you may celebrate losing a few pounds, the way you lose it is the main issue.

“I like to take my time and not try to put too much pressure on myself, but it’s hard. I think I forget every time you give birth, you want your stomach to be flat again. It does take a lot of work, but I usually start slowly by going on walks with the baby,“ Kourtney Kardashian

If you want to manage your weight while pregnant, we have some easy tips on how to lose weight during pregnancy if overweight. If you follow these tips, you will prevent extra weight gain, and maybe lose a few pounds too. And all this without harming your pregnancy! Here’s what you need to do to manage your weight during pregnancy:

1. Understand your calorie needs:

As mentioned earlier, all pregnant women don’t need to gain an equal amount of weight. So, you need to know how many calories you need. Talk to your doctor to understand your specific needs.

“I’ve been doing the Atkins diet, but of course, I have my cheat days” Kim Kardashian

Don’t follow low-carb diets like the Atkins diet. Remember, Kim has an army of doctors to keep her safe and healthy, and we, unfortunately, don’t.

[ Read: Calories Consumption During Pregnancy ]

2. Eat frequent but small meals:

This is true when you want to manage your weight, pregnant or not. Eating frequent but small meals helps you manage your portion size. This is especially useful when you are pregnant and eating a full meal can make you sick.

‘In general, I try to eat healthy, but I’ve been eating more fast food because French fries calm my stomach. They’re my reward once in awhile.’ Jana Kramer

3. Take prenatal vitamins:

This is something your doctor will prescribe anyway. But if you needed an additional reason to take your prenatal vitamins regularly, then you should talk with your doctor right away! As you know, your body needs extra nutrition during pregnancy. If you want to manage your weight and take in the nutrients without loading yourself with calories, take your vitamins! But this does not mean that you forego your usual meals and rely on supplements.

4. Eat healthy food:

Now that you know you need to follow a proper diet, let’s see what is healthy for you.

  • Fresh fruits and vegetables
  • Cereals and bread made with whole grains
  • Low-fat milk and dairy products
  • Foods rich in folate such as strawberries, spinach, and beans
  • Unsaturated “good” fats like olive oil, canola oil, and peanut oil

[ Read: Is It Safe To Diet During Pregnancy ]

There is a long list of foods you should avoid to manage your weight during pregnancy. Here they are:

  • Food laced with artificial sweeteners
  • Food and drinks that contain sugar or corn syrup
  • Junk food like chips, candy, cake, cookies, and ice cream. It’s okay to cheat once in a while, just don’t make it a habit
  • Salt causes water retention in the body. So, avoid adding salt to the foods you cook at home
  • Unhealthy fats like margarine, butter, gravy, sauces, mayonnaise, and salad dressings

“My diet and exercise habits — which make me feel good and earn my doctor’s approval — have made it easy to lose the bulk of the weight I gained during pregnancy. I can’t promise my routine will work for you, but I can say it makes me feel good — and beats obsessing over every pound!” Hilaria Baldwin

5. Exercise:

Just because you are pregnant does not mean you should stop working out. Working out is important if you want to manage your pregnancy weight (7).

“I devoted six hours a day to a vigorous workout regime“. “I would do 45 or 55 minutes of cardio then an hour of Pilates or yoga, three times a day,” Kate Hudson

But talk to your doctor before you plan your workout regimen. You need at least two to three hours of moderate aerobic activity a week. Yoga, walking, swimming, dancing, and cycling are great options.

[ Read: Simple Exercises During Pregnancy ]

6. Eating for two:

Pregnancy does not mean you have to eat for two. 20 grams of extra protein and 300Kcal of extra energy is all you need to manage a healthy weight gain. Besides calories and proteins, the body also needs essential nutrients such as folic acid, vitamin B12, and calcium.

Nuts provide protein while milk and cereals supply the extra calories. Eggs and yogurt are a great source of protein, calcium and vitamin D. Spinach is high in folic acid, and should be included in your everyday diet. Red meat provides iron.

Women who end up eating too much during pregnancy become obese and can develop problems like high blood pressure and gestational diabetes in the third trimester.

[ Read: Vitamin B During Pregnancy ]

7. Carry your lunch to work:

Pregnant women are too tired to prepare lunch for work. If the morning rush seems overwhelming, try making them the day before. Sandwiches, parathas, and rice are easy to make. Add veggies into the diet, mince/puree them and blend them when making parathas. Eat them with curd for a complete meal. Similarly, veggies can be added to rice to make vegetable pulao and fried rice. Even the humble curd rice has proteins and calcium!

8. Make a conscious choice:

A healthy lifestyle is all about making a conscious choice when eating. The cheese burst pizza topped with fat oozing bacon and other toppings is drool-worthy but does nothing to help your baby or your body. Every time we opt for healthy food, we make a conscious decision to respect our body.

9. Accept the changes:

Respecting your body also means accepting what it is. Gaining weight is normal during pregnancy and, in fact, is essential for your baby’s health. Shed those extra pounds after your baby is born.

But don’t stress yourself about losing the added weight immediately after delivery. Your priority is your child.

Is It Safe To Lose Weight While Pregnancy?

If you are already overweight at the time of conceiving, your doctor may ask you to lose some weight. However, you should try to lose weight only under the supervision of a doctor. In most of the cases, women are not allowed to diet or lose weight during pregnancy.

The fact is losing or gaining weight takes its natural course during pregnancy. You may lose weight during the first trimester due to nausea or morning sickness. Then you may add pounds in the next two trimesters and make for the initial weight loss. And this is a healthy way of losing and gaining pregnancy weight.

[ Read: Tips For Losing Weight After Pregnancy ]

Effects Of Unhealthy Weight Loss On Your Growing Baby:

Losing more weight than expected is not healthy. It can only happen at the beginning of the first trimester due to morning sickness. Unhealthy weight loss can cause the following complications:

  • You will give birth to an underweight baby
  • Chances of miscarriage are high, especially in the first trimester due to anorexia (eating disorder with an unwanted fear of gaining weight)
  • Lesser amniotic fluid due to low nutrition
  • Impaired cognitive functioning in the baby
  • Small size of the baby

If you are overweight, you don’t need to ‘eat for two’. In fact, if you are obese, you could stand to lose a few pounds without harming your baby. But the key is to stay aware of your body and consult your doctor. So, get started!

Did you try any other ways to lose excess weight? Share the story in the below comment section.

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Rebecca Malachi

"I believe words have power. They are a powerful tool for a creative soul. Being a 'word addict', I express my thoughts and contribute articles on health, wellness and beauty. Apart from writing, I love listening to gospel music and enjoy observing nature in silence."
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  • Kalpana Nadimpalli

    Hi Dileesha,

    Working out is important if you want to manage your pregnancy weight.
    But talk to your doctor before you plan your workout regimen. You need at least 2 – 3 hours of moderate aerobic activity weekly.
    It’s great that you are doing yoga, walking, and dancing. Do continue the pace.

  • Tofayel Ahmed

    Very useful article,Understanding calorie need, eat frequent small food, parental vitamins and other tips are wonderful. I think. Pregnant women can get a wide knowledge from this. Over weight and under weight both are harmful and dangerous for mom and baby. But we should follow these under supervision of a doctor. Because the pregnancy period is highly sensitive stage for a woman. If any woman gain overweight then she consult with her doctor to get necessary advice which is safe for her and baby also.

    • Kalpana Nadimpalli

      Thanks Tofayel! Very true, agree with you.

      • Tofayel Ahmed

        Thanks Kalpana.

  • Mark

    Hello, I just started this plan!

    WEIGHTLOSSIN3WEEKS.COM/WEIGHT-LOSS

    was surprised that my first fast day was not as hard as I thought it would be. I had my morning cup of coffee with a little milk and off to the gym I went. I was very surprised to find out that I could work out and not pass out! I did 45 min of aerobics! I drank a lot of ice tea and water all day. I ate some oatmeal with blueberries at noon and a salad at 6pm. I wanted to go to bed early so I could get up early and run to the kitchen and start eating! I was very surprised that when I woke up I was not starving!

  • MomJunction

    Thanks for sharing your experience Mishell.