How to Lose Weight during Pregnancy?

Losing Weight While Pregnant – Safe Ways & Effects

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Dr. Sabiha Anjum (Gynecologist/Obstetrician)
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Weight gain during pregnancy is a normal phenomenon. But if a woman is overweight before pregnancy, then additional weight gained during pregnancy can make her journey difficult in more ways than one. This could be because of gestational diabetes or any other complication. That is why maintaining a healthy weight during pregnancy is of utmost importance during pregnancy. But, many times, we tend to react over the weight gain and compare it with magazine models, finally asking ourselves – ‘Is it safe to lose weight during pregnancy?’ Well, while losing weight during pregnancy with the help of daily exercise and smaller portions is possible, doing so is not advisable. And why is it so – we’ll learn everything in the following post.

Is It Safe to Lose Weight During Pregnancy?

Usually, pregnant women are not encouraged to lose weight or follow a weight-loss diet during pregnancy. Women who are obese can reduce the risk of certain complications, such as gestational diabetes and preeclampsia by maintaining weight during pregnancy. In one study it has also been noted that maintaining weight may provide the lowest risk for obese pregnant women, but losing weight during pregnancy could prove dangerous to perinatal outcomes. Hence, weight management program for obese pregnant women should be monitored by a doctor or medical professional.

It is normal for a pregnant woman to lose weight during the first trimester naturally because of morning sickness or loss of appetite but then again she would gain it and perhaps more in the next two trimesters. Therefore, losing weight in the first trimester is possible, but if it seems unusual, you should immediately consult your healthcare provider.

Pregnancy Weight Gain Chart

The recommended weight gain during the different stages of pregnancy varies depending on the individual. During the first trimester, you will not gain much weight as the baby is still tiny. On the other hand, morning sickness and loss of appetite in the first trimester can make you shed a few pounds. Your weight gain will really pick up in the second trimester as this is the time when your baby will start growing in size. By the third trimester, your baby will continue to grow but your weight gain should stabilise since your abdomen can get quite cramped and eating food can become difficult.

Take a look at the chart below to understand how much weight you need to gain throughout the nine months of your pregnancy:

Pre–Pregnancy BMI Category
Recommended Weight Gain
18.5 – 24.9 Normal 11-16 kg
<18.5 Underweight 13-18 kg
25 – 29.9 Overweight 7-11 kg
>30 Obese 5-9 kg

Source: PubMed 

If yours is a case of multiple pregnancies (twins or more), then the ideal weight gain should be somewhere between 16.5 kg and 24.5 kg.

Distribution of Weight During Pregnancy

If you are wondering where all that pregnancy weight goes, then you are not alone in asking this question. The amount of weight gained is fairly distributed. Here’s a breakdown of the weight you gain during pregnancy.

  • The baby weighs around 3 to 3.5 kg by the end of the pregnancy.
  • The placenta and amniotic fluid make up about 1.5 kg.
  • An enlarged uterus and engorged breasts can mean an additional 2 kg.
  • Bodily fluids and blood can weigh up to 4 kgs, while fat and other nutrients constitute nearly 3 kgs. So the total weight gained could be anywhere between 10 to 15 kilos.

Can You Follow a Weight Loss Diet During Pregnancy?

It is not advisable for pregnant women to go on crash diets or lower their calorie intake during pregnancy. A weight loss diet can lead to mental retardation or respiratory and neurological issues due to the unavailability of nutrients and micronutrients which are necessary from early pregnancy. Cutting down on calories during pregnancy can increase the risk of obesity in a child in the later years of his life.

pregnancy diet

A healthy diet which constitutes of whole foods and fibre-rich foods is essential during pregnancy. Consult with your doctor about the dietary changes you need to incorporate to lead a healthy lifestyle. Include fruits, vegetables, and lean protein in your diet and avoid consuming processed food, sugary foods, and liquid calories.

How to Lose Weight Safely During Pregnancy?

Being obese during pregnancy can lead to many health issues and can also cause complications during labour and delivery. But losing too much weight too fast while pregnant can prove dangerous for your health as well as your baby’s health. This is why you should know how you can manage weight without harming the baby. Here’s what you can do.

1. Find out how much weight you need to gain.

Even if you are overweight, you will gain some kilos during pregnancy for the well-being of your child. Measure your current weight, and with the help of a pregnancy chart, calculate how much weight you need to gain. Aim to stay within that limit. Be sure to weigh yourself at the same time each day and on the same scale. Limit your weight watching to once a week as fluctuations are normal and weighing yourself daily will only lead to unwanted stress and anxiety.

2. Cut down on calories.

Here again, you will need to calculate how many calories your body needs every day for you and your baby to stay healthy. It is recommended that pregnant women get at least 1,700 calories every day. By keeping a track of what you eat daily, you can figure out if your calorie intake is within the limit or more. It will also help you understand whether you are eating more than what your body needs.

3. Exercise daily.

Moderate exercise is recommended during pregnancy irrespective of your weight as it provides relief from pain during pregnancy when your body goes through so many changes.

pregnancy exercise

At least half an hour of physical activity is recommended every day and you can also do this in blocks of 10 or 15 minutes. Swimmingwalking, and yoga are some of the physical activities you can engage yourself in.

4. Stay hydrated.

Staying hydrated during pregnancy is of utmost importance and more so if you are indulging in exercises. Drinking one to two litres of water daily can make you feel full and prevent excessive eating.

5. Eat healthy snacks.

Avoid eating junk food and switch to healthier options such as fruits and vegetables. Choose whole-grain cereals and bread along with low-fat milk and dairy products. Look for foods which are a rich source of folate such as strawberries, spinach, and beans. Have a healthy breakfast daily and eat high-fibre foods such as whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and beans as they aid digestion and prevent constipation, which is a common problem in pregnancy.

6. Opt for smaller meals.

If you find yourself feeling hungry all day long, then go for six smaller meals instead of three big ones. This will help control the calories you consume in one sitting. Having big meals can lead to heartburn and indigestion. So have small but frequent meals.

7. Take prenatal vitamins.

Be sure to take your prenatal vitamins regularly as suggested by your doctor. Taking prenatal vitamins daily will help you meet your nutritional needs without having to consume more calorie-rich foods than required.

Prenatal Vitamins

But remember that supplements are not a substitute for actual food and you must eat healthy food to ensure that these nutrients are absorbed by your body.

What Are the Side Effects of Being Overweight During Pregnancy?

Being overweight or obese during pregnancy can pose risks for you and your baby. Following are the complications that you or your unborn child may face if you are overweight.

1. Risks to the Foetus

  • Possibility of a miscarriage.
  • The child may be born larger than the average size; this can lead to obesity later in life.
  • The baby is at an increased risk of having heart disease or diabetes as an adult.
  • The baby might be born with neural tube defects.

2. Risks to the Mother

  • Higher chances of developing gestational diabetes, which can result in a larger baby causing a difficult vaginal birth.
  • There is a high risk of preeclampsia, which can lower the blood flow to the baby.
  • An overweight pregnant woman may face problems during labour and delivery.
  • Difficulties in monitoring foetal development.
  • Increased risk of sleep apnea which can bring on fatigue and lead to disorders like high blood pressure.
  • High risk of urinary tract infections (UTIs) during pregnancy and in the postpartum period.
  • Blood clotting which can complicate delivery.
  • In the case of a C-section, greater chances of infection or excessive blood loss.
  • Labour might have to be induced.
  • High blood pressure.

Effects of Weight Loss on the Mother-to-be and the Baby During Pregnancy

Losing too much weight can prove counter-effective and can have a negative impact on the well-being of you and your child. Unhealthy weight loss, which mainly occurs due to morning sickness or loss of appetite can start in the first trimester of pregnancy and may last up until the end of the first trimester. Weight loss during pregnancy is not always healthy as it might affect the health of the pregnant woman and her baby. Mentioned below are some complications of weight loss during pregnancy:

  • The baby may be born underweight because of a lack of nutrition.
  • There is an increased chance of a miscarriage in the first trimester due to anorexia.
  • Lower levels of amniotic fluid.
  • The baby will have poor cognitive function.
  • You might feel tired all the time and will be prone to infections.

A Word of Caution

As mentioned above, your weight can affect your health as well as your baby’s health significantly. Having a healthy weight before pregnancy is considered ideal, but if you are obese or overweight, you don’t need to cut down your calorie intake drastically or exercise too much. Consult your doctor before you decide anything. Instead of weight loss, you should focus on weight management.


1. Do I Lose Weight Right Before Labor?

Yes, it is possible that you lose weight naturally right before your labour. However, the weight loss is insignificant, usually between 2-10 kg.

2. Why Do Some Women Loose Weight During Third Trimester?

Losing weight while pregnant in the third trimester naturally is possible if your baby is large in size. This is because the baby takes up the space and your amniotic fluid starts to decrease.

Pregnancy is a phase when you should take good care of yourself for the well-being of your child. If you are obese or overweight while pregnant, you can lose weight. But you should aim to lose weight by healthy means. There is no better time than pregnancy to make significant changes in your lifestyle. But remember, these changes shouldn’t affect your health negatively.


1. Kapadia. M. Z, Park. C. K, Beyene. J, et al.; Weight Loss Instead of Weight Gain within the Guidelines in Obese Women during Pregnancy: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analyses of Maternal and Infant Outcomes; PLoS One.; PubMed;; July 2015

2. Healthy Weight during Pregnancy;;

3. Nutrition During Pregnancy; American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists;

4. Comstock. S. S; Time to change weight gain recommendations for pregnant women with obesity; The Journal of Clinical Investigation;; September 2019

5. Obesity and Pregnancy; American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists;

6. Being overweight during pregnancy; March of Dimes;

7. Rasmussen. K. M, Abrams. B, et al.; Recommendations for Weight Gain During Pregnancy in the Context of the Obesity Epidemic; Obstet Gynecol.;; November 2010

Also Read:

Underweight Pregnancy
How to Gain Weight when Pregnant?
Harmful Effects of Overeating in Pregnancy

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