More than half of women ages 20 to 44 are overweight, and of those, nearly a third are obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Overweight women are already more likely to have health complications — but pregnancy increases the risks for both mother and baby. “Obesity is a disease, and as with many diseases, there’s a greater chance of problems during pregnancy,” says Vivian Dickerson, MD, director of women’s healthcare and programs at Hoag Memorial Hospital, in Newport Beach, California.
Here’s a powerful new motivator for moms who’ve struggled with weight all their lives and pray their kids won’t have to. Overweight problems begin in the womb. Yep, pregnant women with too much body fat deliver babies with extra fat, too. And that could set up those bouncy bundles for lifelong struggles with the scale.
So if you’re overweight and even thinking “baby,” now’s the time to slim down. Healthfully, so you and your baby-to-be get all the nutrition you need – no more, no less.
- Start taking pre-natal vitamins before you even try to get pregnant. They’ll get your body in top nutrition condition for the big mission ahead, reducing risks of malformations and maybe autism.
- Here’s what to look for in prenatal vitamins. Focus on fruits, veggies, whole grains, and lean protein. Aim for 9 daily servings of produce, plus 3 servings each of 100% whole grains and lean protein (skinless poultry, low-mercury fish – trout, canned/fresh salmon, tilapia – eggs, nuts, beans, lentils).
- Don’t think “you’re eating for two.” You’re not! You’re only eating for 1.1. So you only need 10% more food during the first trimester – just 100 extra calories per day. Second trimester: 250 calories, or 10 walnuts and an apple. Third trimester: 300 calories, or three pieces of fruit.
- Forget three squares. Go for 5 or 6 mini-meals. Eating small amounts helps curb nausea and fends off blood sugar drops that can spark crazy cravings for pickles and ice cream.
Is it okay to lose weight during pregnancy?
Pregnancy is definitely not the time to go on a weight-loss diet: Restricting your food intake is potentially hazardous to you and your developing baby. But many plus-size women do lose weight during pregnancy without dieting.
In the first trimester, it’s common to lose weight as the result of morning sickness: The nausea can diminish your appetite, and the vomiting can cause you to miss out on calories. But even so, your baby will get all the necessary calories.
Overweight women have an extra reserve of calories in stored fat, so as your baby grows, it’s not harmful to maintain or even lose a little weight at first. What’s not okay is losing weight because you’re intentionally cutting calories (and, as a result, limiting nutrients).