Is Losing Weight During Pregnancy Possible?

Weight loss during pregnancy is considered a risk to the baby. Adequate weight gain should be maintained to ensure a healthy pregnancy. Here are the reasons why you shouldn't lose weight during pregnancy.
Is Losing Weight During Pregnancy Possible?

Last update: 05 December, 2023

Pregnancy is such a special stage of life that there are now rules and limits regarding the things you were able to do before becoming pregnant. And to prove it, experts have established limits for weight control in pregnant women. So, when in doubt, if you’re thinking about losing weight during pregnancy because it caught you with a few “extra pounds,” you should review what this article says.

Losing weight while your baby is growing in the womb isn’t a good idea because you’re transporting nutrients for their growth. So, if you’re losing weight without apparent cause or you’re doing it intentionally, start by consulting your health professional.

In this article, we’ll clarify whether or not you can lose weight during pregnancy, for example, when you’re overweight, obese, or have a lack of appetite. We’ll also talk about the risks and what you can do.

If you’re overweight during pregnancy, is losing weight advisable?

If you’re overweight, pregnant, and want to lose weight, the truth is that this isn’t the time. During pregnancy, so many changes occur in the body that there’s a natural weight gain.

This extra weight isn’t only given by the growing baby, but also by the placenta and fat reserves that accumulate to support pregnancy, childbirth, and breastfeeding.

Therefore, the weight gained becomes a reference to know that everything is going well, whether or not you have a few “extra pounds.”

A pregnant woman standing on a scale.

However, regarding the healthcare of women who are overweight or obese during pregnancy, the United States Institute of Medicine recommends a lower weight gain than for those who begin their pregnancy with a healthy weight.

In an overweight pregnancy, weight gain should be between 15 and 25 pounds, while in cases of obesity, it should be limited to between 11 and 20 pounds. Those of average weight will gain between 25 and 35 pounds. As you can see, all of these recommendations contemplate weight gain and discourage weight loss.

Undoubtedly, pregnancy and its care are the priority for health agencies. But being overweight or obese poses a risk. For example, the Institute of Medicine Committee mentions some complications, such as gestational diabetes, high blood pressure, preeclampsia, and premature labor.

The Mayo Clinic also explains that babies can be born with weights and sizes that are above average (fetal macrosomia), asthma, congenital disorders, cognitive problems, childhood obesity, and developmental delay.

Why isn’t losing weight during pregnancy a good idea?

The main reason is the baby’s well-being. Cases of excess weight and obesity can be managed by professionals without the need to lose weight as long as women stay within the recommended gain.

However, there may be exceptions where the doctor deems it necessary and redirects the recommendations together with a nutritionist.

If you start losing weight during pregnancy without guidance, the baby may not get the energy and nutrients needed to stay healthy.

In addition, you may have a small baby or a baby that’s born early, as discussed in the study published in the journal PloS One. Therefore, losing weight during pregnancy isn’t recommended.

The American College of Physicians and Gynecologists also explains that restrictive diets during pregnancy to lose weight or not having a healthy weight gain can increase the risk of fetal or newborn death.

Therefore, if you’re overweight from the beginning of pregnancy, it’s important to adjust the diet to a normal calorie diet that covers key nutrients for the baby.

When weight loss is very accentuated at this stage or if some medical conditions, such as hormonal imbalance, undiagnosed diabetes, or a very active thyroid, among other disorders, cause considerable weight loss, you should consult your doctor immediately.

As you can see, evidence shows that it’s not a good idea to lose weight during pregnancy. But how do you control those extra pounds that also cause harm? Read the answer below.

Can excessive weight gain during pregnancy be controlled?

Instead of focusing on losing weight during pregnancy, the focus should be on a balanced diet and a more active lifestyle. It’s very important to attend professional consultations with your doctor and nutritionist, and that they be the ones who guide and authorize a smaller weight gain during pregnancy, if warranted.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guide establishes some steps to help control weight in pregnant women who are overweight and obese. You can follow them to avoid gaining more than recommended.

So, in order to keep the weight off during pregnancy and maintain the appropriate gain, in addition to professional advice, you need an individualized, varied, balanced and balanced eating plan.

It includes fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats such as olive oil, seeds and nuts, lean proteins, and low-fat dairy. It’s crucial that you exclude ultra-processed foods, added sugars, and solid fats.

Accompany all of this with a professionally approved physical activity plan. You can walk, do prenatal exercises, swim, or practice yoga, pilates, and other authorized activities.

After giving birth, will I be able to lose weight?

After the baby arrives comes the breastfeeding stage, and you’re supposed to have prepared yourself during pregnancy to have enough reserves to allow for healthy breastfeeding.

A mother breastfeeding her baby.

You’ll naturally lose body weight, as according to the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services, breastfeeding expends between 450 and 500 additional calories. This produces a gradual and progressive weight loss.

It’s important to wait 6 to 8 weeks for postpartum recovery and then, with the assistance of the nutritionist, you can adjust your eating plan to a balanced healthy diet that allows you to lose any remaining excess weight .

Is losing weight during pregnancy advisable or not?

Unless the treating physician considers otherwise (due to exceptional cases), there’s no reason to lose weight during pregnancy. Your baby must be guaranteed the nutrients and energy needed to grow and develop optimally.

Without having to lose weight, adequate weight gain ensures a healthy pregnancy. So, you should maintain a healthy, varied, and balanced diet and an exercise routine to achieve a happy ending.

It’s important to note that if you’re suffering a very accentuated weight loss at this stage or if some medical conditions such as hormonal imbalance, undiagnosed diabetes, or a very active thyroid , among other disorders, are causing you to lose weight considerably, you should consult your doctor immediately.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.