Updated: Mar 28
Your body is going through lots of changes, including some very visible signs with a change in body shape. It is somewhat inevitable that you might start to think about weight loss during pregnancy.
It's also understandable that some women may find this difficult to deal with - after all, we are bombarded with images and messages about the ideal body image and how to lose weight all the time. Pregnancy is no exception.
Maybe you are always on a diet or watching your weight. Or perhaps the idea of putting on weight during pregnancy scares you. You might find yourself wanting to use the opportunity to lose weight or limit the weight that you put on, but should you? Is it safe to continue an existing diet or consider any weight loss during pregnancy at all?
Weight loss during pregnancy
For many women, you may find that you lose some weight during the first trimester of pregnancy. This is often a result of severe morning sickness and nausea, where you simply aren't consuming as much food.
If you change your eating habits, cutting back on high calorie foods and eating more vegetables for example, or take up more exercise whilst pregnant, this may also affect your weight and see you losing weight.
Generally, weight loss during pregnancy is not recommended, as it could be damaging to your body and to your growing baby. Your baby needs specific nutrients to grow and develop well, and your body needs to be well nourished, and have energy to take you comfortably through pregnancy.
Diets during pregnancy
If you are following a specific diet pre-pregnancy, then it may be safe to continue, provided that it offers ample opportunity to eat the foods you and your baby need to flourish. You need foods that are good sources of energy, B vitamins and fibre - such as starchy wholegrain carbohydrates. Foods that provide calcium and iodine, such as dairy foods (or plant alternatives) are important for your baby's developing bones and teeth. And oily fish that provide omega 3 fatty acids that are vital for health brain and visual development.
Your body needs to maintain a level of fuel to keep going during pregnancy that is slightly different to normal - it's why women find themselves more hungry and may need to eat small frequent meals, to avoid blood sugar dips.
Exercising to lose weight
You should never be encouraged to do exercise in order to achieve weight loss during pregnancy. It is ok to continue exercising, if you are doing extreme levels of exercise as a means of controlling your weight, then this can be damaging to you and your baby.
Use this time as an opportunity to focus on exercise that will benefit and prepare your body for birth and the postnatal period. It is also normal to experience weight gain in areas other than your bump - trust your body that it knows what is best for you and your baby, and don’t try to control this.
Pregnancy should be a time for focusing on creating the best environment for your baby, not controlling weight, so look for inspiration online of other pregnant women embracing their changing bodies, and surround yourself with positivity.
Too often we are surrounded by images of women who have 'lost the baby weight' or 'bounced back' and this gives us an unrealistic expectation of what real women's bodies look like during and after pregnancy.
Your body is doing an incredible thing, and we need to nourish and support it, not punish it my restricting foods.
If adapting your food intake or choosing the foods to eat during pregnancy is something that causes you worry and anxiety, then working with a pregnancy nutritionist could be an option. As a non-diet nutritionist, I NEVER focus on weight loss during pregnancy.
I work with women to take away that concern or confusion over which foods they can eat, or how to bring back foods into their diet that they may have restricted for too long. Having a pregnancy nutritionist, who has been there, gives you the space to work through how you feel about the foods you eat and the changes your body is going through, is an investment in your ongoing relationship with food that will last long beyond your pregnancy.
I can take the time to understand what is important to you, how food fits into your life, and what your goals are for your pregnancy, and bring this together into personal, supportive advice that can take you from feeling nervous to fully confident in the foods you are choosing.