Weight gain is a normal sign of healthy pregnancy. According to the Institute of Medicine (IOM) weight guidelines, during pregnancy, underweight women with body mass index below 18.6 should gain between 28 and 40 pounds of weight.
Pregnant women with normal body mass index could safely put on 25 to 35 pounds of extra weight during pregnancy. Overweight women with body mass index between 25 and 30 could gain 15 to 25 pounds of weight, and obese woman could gain 11 to 20 pounds of weight.
Causes Of Weight Loss During Pregnancy
At the early stage of pregnancy, vomiting and nausea might cause a small amount of weight loss. This is usually not a matter of concern. Nausea or morning sickness that occurs in the first trimester of pregnancy is primarily triggered by the hormonal changes that occur during this phase of pregnancy.
Usually the symptoms of morning sickness subside naturally within the 16th week of pregnancy. However, in some pregnant women it might last for a longer period. Moreover, during the early phase of pregnancy, many women develop a strong aversion towards certain food items. Nausea and food aversion tends to reduce the appetite and food intake.
To sustain your total calorie intake, you should modify your dietary habits. Stay away from strong aromas or foods that trigger nausea. Instead of eating large meals, eat small meals four to five times a day. To prevent morning sickness eat a saltine cracker or a piece of bread before getting out of bed in the morning. Drink plenty of fluid. Your doctor might prescribe medications to reduce vomiting.
Even without dieting, some pregnant women might experience weight loss. A small amount of weight loss, especially if you are obese or overweight, will not harm the growing fetus. The extra calories stored in your body could supply your baby the fuel needed to sustain growth and development.
The developing fetus would grow by consuming the nutrient reserve in the mother’s body. To ensure that your baby is getting sufficient nutrition, consume essential nutrients. Weight loss does not necessarily mean that you are eating a poor diet. A calorie dense diet packed with junk foods might elevate your weight but it will deprive you and your unborn child of essential nutrients.
Weight gain during pregnancy might not follow a smooth curve. After a period of rapid weight gain, the weight gain curve might reach a plateau or it might even dip slightly. As long as you are consuming the essential nutrients in the right proportion, you need not be bothered by minor fluctuations in weight.
Risks Of Weight Loss During Pregnancy
Health experts fear that weight loss during pregnancy could be a sign of excess fat metabolism, which might elevate the ketone level in the maternal blood. They speculate that too much ketone in the blood might harm the brain of the fetus. It is advisable to check the ketone level if a pregnant woman experiences excess nausea and vomiting.
Weight loss caused by poor maternal nutrition leads to intrauterine growth retardation. The newborn is small for the gestational age. If nutrient deficiency occurs throughout pregnancy, the baby will be born with a small head and underdeveloped brain.
When Weight Loss Is Safe During Pregnancy
However, researchers at the University of Linkoping, in Sweden, reported in the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology that obese women could safely lose a few pounds during pregnancy. Gaining fewer pounds or even shedding a little body weight during pregnancy is beneficial for both the expectant obese mother and her baby.
Obesity increases the risk of complications during pregnancy. Obese women are more likely to give birth to babies with neural tube defects and congenital heart problems. In addition, most obese women do not lose all the weight they had gained during pregnancy, which further aggravates their obesity related complications.
The Swedish study team, led by Dr. Marie Blomberg, studied the medical records of over 46,000 obese pregnant women. In accordance with their body mass index, these women were divided into three groups. The first group comprised of pregnant obese women with body mass index between 30 and 35. The second group contained women with body mass index between 35 and 40. Women whose body mass index was above 40 formed the third group.
The findings showed that obese pregnant women in the second and the third groups who gained fewer pounds during pregnancy, less than the amount recommended by the Institute of Medicine, or even lost some weight, had a lower risk of undergoing cesarean section than obese women who did put on the extra weight as recommended by IOM.
The study revealed that 24 per cent of pregnant women with body mass index between 35 and 40 who gained the IOM recommended weight needed a cesarean section, whereas only 17 per cent of women with similar body mass index who lost weight during pregnancy had a C-section.
Moreover, babies born to obese women who gained fewer pounds or even lost some weight during pregnancy are as healthy as babies delivered by women who gained the IOM recommended weight. They did not have a higher risk of experiencing fetal distress.
Although losing some weight during pregnancy might bring down the risk of C-section or giving birth to large newborns, it could slightly increase the risk of giving birth to small-for-gestational-age newborns.
In an earlier study, researchers at the Saint Louis University School of Medicine found that losing weight during pregnancy is beneficial for pregnant women suffering from gestational diabetes. Gestational diabetes is a condition that affects women during pregnancy.
It subsides naturally after delivery. Women with gestational diabetes have a higher risk of giving birth to large babies. Researchers found that obese pregnant women with gestational diabetes who maintained their weight or experienced weight loss gave birth to normal sized babies.
Safe Ways To Lose Weight During Pregnancy
If you are obese or a morbidly obese pregnant woman, you can maintain your body weight or lose some excess flab by combining proper diet with exercise. A low calorie balanced diet could supply your body the essential nutrients. Moderate activities such as walking at a moderate speed, at least for twenty minutes, daily, could burn the excess calories.