Can You Lose Weight With Exercise While Pregnant?

Pregnancy is usually a joyous time in a woman's life.

Despite this joy, you might worry about gaining too much weight during your pregnancy.

If you were overweight before becoming pregnant, you might be especially motivated to control your weight gain in order to have a healthier pregnancy.

There are a variety of exercise options you can pursue when you are pregnant. Any efforts to lose weight, however, should be determined by your doctor.

Pregnancy Weight Gain

Talk to your obstetrician about your weight but in general, if you are a normal weight the recommended weight gain is 25 to 37 pounds during pregnancy.

If you are overweight when you become pregnant, the recommended weight gain is 15 to 25 pounds, and if you are obese, it is 11 to 20 pounds. In some cases, your doctor may recommend that you maintain your current weight or even lose a few pounds. Only part of this weight gain is fat. The baby will weigh about 8 pounds, the placenta will weigh 2, and your body will hold up to 6 pounds of extra fluid.

Safely Exercising

Happy overweight woman stretching

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The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends 30 minutes of exercise daily, five to seven days a week. There are a variety of exercise options for pregnant women.

If you are obese and working to maintain or lose weight, your doctor may recommend an easy low-impact exercise, such as walking or water aerobics, beginning at only 10 or 15 minutes daily. Other aerobic activities include swimming, biking, yoga and Pilates. Women who were runners before becoming pregnant can continue running into the early part of the third trimester. According to the American Pregnancy Association, safe exercise does not increase the risk of miscarriage.

Benefits of Exercise

Exercising strengthens postural muscles that support the additional weight of the baby.

Exercise also improves your cardiovascular endurance, which may pay off in the third trimester when it requires more effort to complete the normal activities of daily living.

Because you are increasing your activity level, you may find that your weight is easier to maintain or control according to your doctor's recommendations. Most importantly, performing safe exercise when pregnant can decrease the risk of preeclampsia and gestational diabetes.

Risks of Exercising While Pregnant

Happy overweight woman stretching

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With pregnancy comes a special set of risks. If you experience early contractions, vaginal bleeding or pregnancy-induced high blood pressure, your doctor may recommend limiting your exercise or order bed rest. Avoid contact sports, basketball, ice hockey, scuba diving and exercise at high altitudes. Its not good for the baby to become too hot, so don't exercise in extreme heat. In the second and third trimester, avoid any activities that involve prolonged lying on your back, because it can decrease blood flow to the fetus.

Weight Loss

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services states that "women are supposed to gain some weight during pregnancy." However, recent studies in Sweden indicate that some weight loss among women with a BMI over 40 may benefit the mother and baby. Your doctor will recommend whether you should gain, maintain or lose weight according to your own medical conditions, nutritional needs and fitness level. By following your doctor's instructions regarding exercise combined with a healthy eating plan, you can maintain a healthy weight during your pregnancy.