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Are you a plus size woman who is pregnant or considering becoming pregnant? You may wonder how much weight you should gain, and if dieting during pregnancy is safe.

How many pounds should obese women gain during pregnancy?

If your Body Mass Index (BMI) is over 25, you are considered overweight. Those women with a BMI of more than 30 are labeled as obese. Traditional guidelines suggest that both these groups should gain less weight over the course of their pregnancies than women who are at a healthy weight.

Most women who are at a normal weight will gain around 35 pounds. Overweight women are advised to gain between 15 and 25 pounds by the end of their nine months, while those who are obese should gain between 11 and 20 pounds. Studies show that women who gain more than these recommended amounts are at a much higher risk of developing gestational diabetes during their pregnancy as much as half of those expectant moms who gains more than is advised will have pregnancy diabetes.

What happens if they gain less, or actually lose weight during their pregnancy? This is not traditionally advised, but new studies are suggesting that this is safe. We'll get there later on in the post!

Eating habits and exercise during pregnancy

Obese women have no more of an excuse to consume unhealthy foods than any other pregnant woman, and will benefit even more from following a healthy diet. A healthy diet does not exceed the daily recommended amount of calories, but the quality of the consumed calories is even more important than the quantity.

Fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, fish and dairy products are all great. Exercising regularly is also very important. Starting a new, vigorous workout regime while you are expecting is not a wise idea. Running, jogging, high-impact aerobics and similar exercises that really get you sweating are generally discouraged during pregnancy anyway. Swimming, prenatal yoga, and walking are three totally safe and really wonderful prenatal exercise options that will be great for obese women, and anyone else!

Gestational diabetes

Obesity and prediabetes both increase your odds of having gestational diabetes during pregnancy. If you feel you are at risk, talking to your doctor as soon as you realize you are pregnant is the best strategy to avoid gestational diabetes. Find out how to manage your diet and blood sugar levels before you go on to develop gestational diabetes.

Dieting while pregnant what does the latest research say?

The traditional advice for pregnant women who are seriously overweight is that dieting with a baby "on board" is not a wise idea. That attitude is changing fast, though. A recent study from the Saint Louis University School of Medicine monitored obese and morbidly obese women during their pregnancies. The study found that obese women who maintained their pre-pregnancy weight and those who lost weight during their pregnancies had fewer complications than those who gained weight, while still being on a diet. The women who lost weight or maintained the same weight ate a healthy diet that met their nutritional needs and didn't involve excessive amounts of calories.

In addition, these women also walked for at least 20 minutes after every meal. The researchers saw that these women gave birth to normal-weight babies, and that the women in the exercise group suffered fewer pregnancy complications. This study, and some others with similar conclusions, are making the medical community think twice about the old idea that weight loss during pregnancy is definitely unhealthy for mom and baby.

Researchers emphasize the importance of exercise in this. If your regular, healthy program of prenatal exercise gets rid of some of your excess fat, you are not putting your health at risk and are instead reducing your odds of developing gestational diabetes, with all the risks that this brings with it. If you are obese and pregnant, what should you do? Despite the latest research, there is still a good chance that your own OBGYN will caution you against weight loss while you are pregnant. The medical community can take a while to catch up.

Try reading the studies for yourself (using Google Scholar to search, for instance), and show your discoveries to your doctor. You can always seek a second opinion, or decide what is healthiest for you by yourself. Remember that exercising should play a large role in a weight-maintenance program during pregnancy, and that you should never go on a starvation diet especially during pregnancy! The trick lies in avoiding trans fats and highly processed foods and eating a truly healthy diet that isn't excessive in calories. Also read dieting safe for pregnant women for more info.

  • Photo courtesy of Tobyotter https://www.flickr.com/photos/78428166@N00/14268677612/
  • Photo courtesy of Tobyotter https://www.flickr.com/photos/78428166@N00/14268677612/

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