Is it safe to lose weight during pregnancy?

Even though weight gain is expected, it can also be extremely difficult at times.
Written by
Kaitlyn Wilson
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Last updated on
November 10, 2023
min read
Is It Safe to Lose Weight During Pregnancy? | Kin Fertility
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Pregnancy can be filled with a number of heartwarming moments, but it can also be extremely difficult at times.

And, if you've had some concerns about gaining weight over the course of your pregnancy, that's totally understandable. Even though weight gain is expected, it can still be a thought that plays on your mind.

On the flip side, weight loss during pregnancy without trying can also happen to some people but is this considered safe? While being overweight during pregnancy can pose certain dangers, so can losing too much weight.

It can be difficult to navigate, so we're covering everything you need to know about weight loss during pregnancy, why it can happen and when it's considered unsafe.

Is it safe to lose weight while pregnant?

Losing weight unintentionally during pregnancy is only safe during the first trimester or early pregnancy; a small amount of weight loss during this time won't cause any harm.

However, the same can't be said for intentional and dramatic weight loss. Your body works overtime to support your growing baby, and weight loss can cause pregnancy complications.

Moderate to dramatic pregnancy weight loss carries an increased risk for the developing foetus. And it may mean you're not getting enough nutrients to maintain a healthy pregnancy and can affect the mum's overall health too [1].

Pregnancy weight loss can cause:

  • Preterm birth
  • Developmental delays
  • Small size for the baby's gestational age
  • Excessive fatigue for pregnant women.

Why might I be losing weight unintentionally while pregnant?

Within the first trimester, it can be common to lose weight and a number of factors play a role in this.

Most women will experience weight loss during early pregnancy because of the following:

Morning sickness

Severe morning sickness is a major culprit of early pregnancy weight loss. Nausea can often reduce your appetite, while vomiting means you get fewer calories.

Certain food aversions can also affect the calorie intake of pregnant women.

Dietary changes

Adopting a healthier diet during pregnancy is encouraged by healthcare professionals, and if you're really leaning into all of the good things, including moving your body, when you find out you're expecting, it can result in some weight loss.

So, how much weight do you typically lose in early pregnancy? Many people find that they lose 1-2 kilograms within their first few weeks of pregnancy. However, this varies from person to person.

Some may lose more, some may lose less, and others may lose none. However, by the second or third trimester, weight loss should have come to a halt for most expectant parents.

If you continue to lose weight in the second and third trimesters or are experiencing excessive weight loss, you should speak to your doctor as soon as possible [2].

Is there a recommended amount of weight to lose during pregnancy?

Generally speaking, there is no recommended amount of weight loss that is considered safe during pregnancy. For those who fall into the category of overweight or obese, doctors usually recommend trying to lose weight before conception rather than during pregnancy.

While there is some research that suggests that losing weight while pregnant could have some benefits for those who are overweight, this would need to be undertaken with the guidance of a doctor [3].

How much weight gain is normal during pregnancy?

Just as losing a large amount of weight during pregnancy isn't recommended, the same goes for excess weight gain.

While this will vary slightly from person to person, the recommendations for weight gain during pregnancy range from 10-25kgs, with most pregnancy weight gain occurring after week 20.

Most of this weight will come from the growing baby, but your body also stores extra fat for breast milk after giving birth.

Increased weight gain can cause similar complications to losing weight during pregnancy, such as diabetes and preeclampsia [4].

What if you want to lose weight during pregnancy?

This is a conversation you'll need to have with your doctor in order to ensure this is safe and being undertaken with medical guidance.

Try your best to focus on moving your body when you have the energy and filling your plate with healthy fats, proteins and carbohydrates so you and your baby are getting all of the nutrients you need.

Tips for maintaining a healthy pregnancy

A balanced diet

Eating a healthy and balanced diet is never as important as it is when you support a growing baby. Consider adding the following to your daily diet to ensure you're receiving all of the important pregnancy vitamins and minerals:

  • Dairy products for calcium and protein
  • Legumes such as chickpeas, lentils, peas, beans and more contain fibre, protein, iron, folate, and calcium and are particularly good for plant-based parents
  • Salmon is a good source of omega-3
  • Dark leafy greens are packed with fibre, vitamin C, vitamin K, vitamin A, calcium, iron, folate, and potassium and are one of the best things for mum and bubs.
  • High-quality lean proteins such as beef, pork and chicken are rich in iron which can be great for combating iron-deficiency anaemia
  • Berries for antioxidants
  • Whole grains for fibre and vitamins

Kin's Omega-3 DHA is formulated to maintain cardiovascular health and healthy cholesterol while supporting cognitive function and mental well-being.

We know pregnancy can be a little overwhelming — but it doesn’t have to be. Kin's Pregnancy Checklist consists of bite-sized checklist items personalised to your pregnancy journey. Approved by fertility specialists and OBYGN approved, you'll feel prepared to tackle each day as it comes and enjoy the process, rather than get lost in it.

Monitor your calorie intake

The recommended calorie intake for pregnant people varies from trimester to trimester, so knowing how many calories you should be consuming can help you maintain a healthy weight.

Generally speaking, it is recommended that women with a BMI of 29 or below should consume around 2,200-2900 calories per day.

But during each trimester, this intake will increase as follows:

  • Trimester 1: no additional calories
  • Trimester 2: an extra 340 calories per day
  • Trimester 3: add around 450 calories per day to your usual intake when not pregnant [5].

Weight gain recommendations

While women typically gain 10-25 kgs during pregnancy, weight gain recommendations can vary from mum to mum.

The Royal Women's Hospital total pregnancy weight gain guidelines are as follows:

  • Less than 18.5 BMI (underweight): 12.5kg to 18kg
  • 18.5 to 24.9 BMI: 11.5kg to 16kg
  • 25 to 29.9 BMI (overweight): 7kg to 11.5kg
  • 30 or more BMI: 5kg to 9kg [6].

Get moving

While exercise can feel difficult while pregnant due to a lack of energy, try your best to get moving when you're feeling up to it. This is not only great for your body but we can't forget the stress-relieving benefits as well.

Some of the best pregnancy-friendly ways to get active are:

If you're struggling with your energy levels during pregnancy, you might want to have a look at how much protein you're consuming. Kin's Essential Protein is designed to help you meet your heightened nutrient needs during pregnancy and can help support energy levels so you can remain active during each stage.

Image credit: Getty Images

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