The overweight pregnancy
Being overweight during your pregnancy can have not only physical but emotional consequences.
Any mother wants the best possible start in life for her baby. But reality sometimes has other plans and pregnancy often happens when we are not completely ready or prepared for it.

Obesity is increasing rapidly and a recent study concluded that maternal weight at the first prenatal visit increased by 20% during the last 20 years. There are many overweight women who eat sensibly, exercise regularly and give birth to normal and healthy babies. It is possible and it is being done every day.

The bad news is, you have no guarantee that you will be one of them. Overweight women has an increased chance of serious pregnancy complications such as gestational diabetes, high blood pressure and premature birth. Many doctors have a dismissive attitude towards overweight people, therefore your doctor should be unbiased and advise you of the best course of action.

However, the good news is many overweight women gain very little or no weight during pregnancy. Part of the weight gain for women of healthy weight is fat reserves which the body use as energy during pregnancy, birth and breastfeeding. Overweight women already has these fat reserves, so it is not necessary for them to gain it.

Unfortunately your weight directly influence the way you feel about the pregnancy both physically and emotionally.
  • Physically: Overweight women tend to be more uncomfortable due to the extra weight they are carrying. They frequently suffer from back pain, ligament strain, cramps, exhaustion and breathlessness.
  • Emotionally: Most overweight women are self-conscious and unhappy with themselves. During a pregnancy you will look even bigger. If this is an issue for you, you need to remind yourself constantly that this is only temporary and the most important thing is a healthy baby.
It is important to look after your health and weight when pregnant. Keep in regular contact with your doctor and advise him of any sudden or severe weight gain or loss. The idea that you might not gain any weight, does not give you permission to overindulge.

Overweight women are only supposed to gain about 5-10 kg during pregnancy and just like any pregnant woman you need to look at what you eat. If you eat more than you should, you will end up gaining an unnecessary amount of weight which is going to be difficult to shed after birth.

If you are unsure of what to eat, you can speak to your health care provider, see a dietician or even join Weigh-Less, which supports pregnant women and supply you with a safe pregnancy eating plan. Increasing your high fibre foods, fruits and vegetables and limiting your fat intake should put you on the right track.

Pregnancy is not the time to go on a kilojoule restricted diet since you still need a minimum amount of nutrients to have a healthy pregnancy and baby. And this is definitely not the time to take any pills or potions. These products are not tested for use in pregnancy so there is really no guarantee that is safe. Most of these products have a diuretic effect and this may be very harmful to your baby and in the end you will only lose water, not fat. 

You should try to exercise too. You are not advised to start a vigorous exercise regime at this time, but there are still some safe exercises you can do :
  • take the dog for a walk
  • go for a swim
  • ride a stationery bicycle
  • sit on a gym ball to help stabilise your core and tighten you tummy muscles, which can help alleviate bad posture and resulting back pain.
We are conditioned to think that a mother must be in perfect health and shape to have a healthy baby. Most babies are born healthy and perfectly normal, irrespective of the mother’s weight. If you keep in contact with your health care provider and watch your general healthy, chances are very good that you and your baby will be just fine.

Want to know more about pregnancy weight?
Claiming back your pre-pregnancy body
What you need to know about pregnancy weight gain

Do you have a fear of gaining weight during pregnancy?

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