Want Your Pre-baby Body Back? Here’s How
There’s good news and bad news for women who hope to reclaim their pre-pregnancy bodies after delivery. Losing weight can be challenging for some women after pregnancy, but new research indicates that it’s mostly women who gain too much in the first place that struggle to lose it afterwards.
Despite the old myth that you’ll need to “eat for two” during pregnancy, you really don’t need to gain all that much weight. Certainly not excess body fat. The Institute of Medicine recommended in 2009 that normal-weight women gain just 25 to 35 pounds while pregnant. Overweight women who get pregnant should seek to gain just 15 to 25 pounds of additional weight, while obese women should only gain about 11 to 20 additional pounds.
In a recent study of pregnant mothers, women who gained the least weight did so because they paid close attention to what they were eating, they stuck to a sensible exercise plan, and they resisted the urge to increase caloric intake significantly. According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, normal weight women need only about 300 extra calories per day while pregnant. Women who are overweight or obese before pregnancy need even fewer additional calories.
In contrast, women who gained more weight than necessary also stopped exercising regularly, and took the attitude that they were “eating for two.” That’s not an ideal approach to pregnancy, unfortunately. Excess weight during pregnancy increases the risk that you will give birth prematurely. It also boosts the likelihood that you will gain too much weight in the longterm, and struggle to lose it.
In a statement, lead researcher Cynthia Chuang said, “Women who closely monitor their weight gain during pregnancy can prevent future complications.”
Cynthia H. Chuang, Michael R. Stengel, Sandra W. Hwang, Diana Velott, Kristen H. Kjerulff, Jennifer L. Kraschnewski. Behaviours of overweight and obese women during pregnancy who achieve and exceed recommended gestational weight gain. Obesity Research & Clinical Practice, 2014; DOI: 10.1016/j.orcp.2013.12.254