Losing weight before, during, or after pregnancy is a tricky subject for most, as it depends on a large number of factors as to how safe it will be for you and your baby, and how effective it will be depends on several other physical and psychological factors.
The first step before considering any exercise program is to consult with your general practitioner for a clearance to proceed, outline the types of activity you have been doing, and workout what activities will be beneficial and safe for you to undertake if you have not exercised in some time.
Being under weight or over weight, can directly affect your fertility and chances of falling pregnant, and can also cause health problems for you, and your unborn baby once you do fall pregnant.
The risk of developing gestational diabetes is much higher, and other complications associated with an increase in blood pressure during pregnancy, can have long term effects if they cause kidney damage, stroke or worse, for you or your baby.
Starting an exercise and healthy eating plan before falling pregnant will not only help you reach a healthy weight and prepare your body for pregnancy, but improve your chances of falling pregnant, help to minimize the risk of problems during or after pregnancy and set you up for living a healthy lifestyle you can pass on.
NOTE: Crash or Fad dieting to lose weight could cause other serious health issues and is not recommended at anytime!
Gaining weight during pregnancy is natural due to a foetus growing inside you (around 10-15kg), but losing excess body fat can still be achieved if you follow a controlled program designed specifically for weight loss during pregnancy.
There are numerous potential benefits for women who exercise during pregnancy. These include better weight control, improved mood and maintenance of fitness levels.
Exercise also helps prevent the onset of gestational diabetes (GDM) and is certainly an important part of the management plan should GDM occur.
If you have a clearance from your Doctor to be able to exercise during your pregnancy, the following guidelines can help to at least maintain a healthy weight and increase the chances of burning off some excess body fat as well.
- Weight bearing and non weight bearing exercise are both thought to be safe.
- Do not exceed pre-pregnancy exercise intensity. (rule of thumb: decrease all exercise parameters by 10-15%)
- Exercise at a heart rate less than 140bpm or a moderate perceived rate of exertion for 30 min maximum.
- Resistance should involve lower weights with higher reps with emphasis on endurance rather than strength
- Avoid heavy strength training, isometric contractions, ballistic movements and the valsalva manoeuvre.
- Avoid uni-lateral movements such as side lunges
- Continue your regular exercise programme (starting a new one not recommended!)
- Avoid large increases in body temperature, overhead exercises, high altitude activities such as mountain climbing or sky diving, and high pressure activities such as scuba diving.
2nd and 3rd Trimester
- Exercises requiring balance and agility may become more difficult due to changes in weight distribution.
- Small more frequent meals are recommended and regular fluid intake (Consult a dietitian or nutritionist for more accurate information)
- Avoid abdominal and back extension exercises, wide squats, going too low on any squat movement and, avoid over stretching of the muscles and joints
It is surprising how quickly your body will react to exercise and you can start to lose weight after pregnancy.
With clearance from your Doctor to re commence exercise after a natural delivery, gentle exercise including pelvic floor, abdominal exercises and walking can be commenced as soon as you feel comfortable to do so.
More intense exercise should be delayed for up to six weeks to allow for some resolution of the effects of pregnancy and delivery,particularly on the pelvic floor muscles and pelvic joints.
After Cesarean section, six weeks is the recommended time to return to exercise if the wound is well healed.
Exercise has not been shown to adversely affect lactation (breast feeding) as long as fluid and caloric intake are maintained.
Apart from the physical benefits, there are many psychological benefits to returning to exercise as soon as it is safe, after pregnancy.
When done properly losing weight after pregnancy can have long term benefits for both you and your family.
Weight Loss and Pregnancy
It is possible to have the two together, getting pregnant doesn’t have to be the end for your skinny jeans, weight gain during pregnancy is normal for most woman but doesn’t have to be a life sentence, with the right help and information you can be back to your ideal weight to look and feel great like you deserve.