Dana, a 29 year old woman, came to see me, wanting to make positive changes in her nutrition and diet, get in shape and lose weight. We started working on healthy foods and exercise when she discovered she was pregnant. She wondered if it was safe to continue to lose weight while she was pregnant.
It can be difficult to change direction like that when you’re all geared up and ready to focus but pregnancy really isn’t a good time to lose weight. A woman’s body is going through so many changes, physically and metabolically, and the growing baby needs adequate nutrition, so restricting calories and pushing exercise is not the thing to do! Healthy habits to follow while losing weight can still be continued while pregnant but calorie intake will be different. It’s always best to check with your doctor but here are a few guidelines that are safe while pregnant:
~ Eat 5-6 small, frequent meals throughout the day
~ Eat a balanced diet of fruits, vegetables, lean protein, whole grains and low fat dairy products throughout the pregnancy.
~ A pregnant mom needs about 300 more calories per day from what she ate to maintain her weight. Make these calories count!
~Keep weight gain during pregnancy to 20-25 pounds.
~Generally, the activity you did before pregnancy can be continued during pregnancy. There have been several women in my kickboxing class that continued to hit and punch those bags until the day they delivered. Always get the OK from your physician however.
Once the baby is delivered, a new mom can continue with her healthy choices and exercise once she’s released. A breastfeeding mom will need 500 more calories per day from her maintenance calories to support breastfeeding. With some careful planning and guidance, she will be able to lose slowly and still have enough milk for her baby. It’s a tricky balance though! Some women lose easily while breastfeeding because of the extra calorie need while other woman are hungry all the time and find it difficult to restrict calories. Finding someone to hold you accountable and provide support will make a huge difference.
The best plan is to get the pregnancy weight off sooner rather than later! Continuing to focus on healthy behaviors will make all the difference.
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