Is It Dangerous to Attempt to Lose Weight While Pregnant?

Updated on April 09, 2012
S.O. asks from Billings, MT
18 answers

I'm not attempting to lose weight while pregnant, but I have a friend who seems to be hell-bent on losing weight while pregnant (even though she doesn't actually verbally admit it.) It's true, she is somewhat overweight, but my opinion is: pregnancy is not the time to deal with trying to lose weight. My question is, what are the dangers of "dieting" and "exercise" while pregnant? I'm concerned about her, and would like to give her some info on why she needs to chill out and wait until after giving birth to worry about it.

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answers from Chicago on

She should definitely not try to loose weight while pregnant! What she could do is try to eat healthier, and incorporate moderate exercise. She could cut back on junk food, and eat only lean meats, fruits and veggies. It sounds like she's anxious about her weight, maybe she can take yoga classes to relax.

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answers from Atlanta on

One should not try to "lose" weight when pregnant. However, if someone is overweight, their doctor may tell them (depending on how overweight they are) that they don't need to or "have" to gain the requisite 20-30 lbs. They may only need to gain the baby's weight or 10-15 lbs if they are obese or nearly obese. The key is that the baby is growing in utero properly and receiving good nutrition through her food and a quality pre-natal supplement.

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answers from Dallas on

When I was pregnant I did lose weight, but not purposefully. And it was not dangerous.
I naturally changed the way I ate, because I was more concsious of what I put in my body. If it wasn't soemthing the baby needed nutritionally I didn't eat it. No cokes, fried food, etc. I thought purely interms of getting enough calcium, green leafy veg, protien, fiber. I naturally lost weight, while the baby thrived.
If done that way - no danger. If starving yourself and taking diet supplements, yeah very dangerous.

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answers from Detroit on

Well. This is tricky. If you are overweight when you become pregnant, and actually lose weight by eating healthy, then no, it is not dangerous to the baby. As long as its not a rapid weight loss.
I have known a few people that have lost weight while pregnant because they ate healthier.
If you notice your friend eating fruits, veggies, lean meats and foods high in fiber and shes losing weight, that is ok.
If she is starving herself, that is a different story.

My neighbor was in great shape before she got pregnant, she is considered high risk pregnancy as well and continues to exercise MORE than I do, and her doctor is ok with it.

I couldnt eat anything (practically) for the first 4 months of pregnancy and managed to have a 9 lb healthy baby.

It really just all depends...

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answers from Washington DC on


The wrong exercises, or overdoing certain exercises can put stress on the baby. If you are currently an avid runner, than continuing to run is fine, just adjust the distance down. If you are not currently an avid runner, during a pregnancy is not the time to start.

Dieting - unless she is working with a nutrionalist or mentor like Jenny Craig or Nutrasystem. Now is not the time to be dieting. Her body needs certain amounts of vitamins and proteins. Diets usually up one and lower the other. For now she should be worried about maintaining her current weight and gaining good weight for the baby, apposed to bad weight which is overeating fatty foods.

Ultimately tho, this is a discussion between her and her OB.

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answers from Tulsa on

While exercising during pregnancy is fine in moderation it is only recommended to do whatever was done before. It's not recommended to begin a new exercise routine that would be stressful on your body. Dieting is most definitely NOT recommended. Baby and mom need nourishment! I have however known overweight women who drastically altered their eating habits from bad to good and have lost weight during pregnancy. Let me stress, that is ONLY healthy if she is losing weight because she is switching to healthy foods and still getting plenty of calories! Tell her to ask her doctor about what can happen if you diet during pregnancy, hopefully they can talk some sense into her.

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answers from Kansas City on

When I was prego with my 2nd I was over-weight but due to morning (all day) sickness I didn't gain any weight until my 6 month check up. My doctors reaction was "you gain 2 pounds, thank you for that". I asked if I should be concerned about the slow weight gain and he said "as long as you are not trying to lose weight, I'm OK with how things are going". He then gave me a hard look and said "Are you trying to lose weight?" Heck, no I just could eat because everything made me sick to my stomach. Any who, he obviously would have been concerned if I was truly trying to lose weight.


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answers from Pittsburgh on

Dieting during pregnancy is generally a bad idea, IMO.
Sounds like Mommy-rexia or Pregorexia.
Once source says that dieting during pregnancy can cause heart defects in the baby.
It's probably not the best time to START a vigorous exercise program, but usually exercise is encouraged during pregnancy.
Here are some links:

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answers from St. Louis on

pregnancy is a time for being eat healthy choices, to stay within exercise parameters set prior to conception.

any & all changes made should be in conjunction with the dr's approval.

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answers from Washington DC on

She needs to talk to her OB. A friend of mine was so sick she actually gave birth below her pre-pregnancy weight! But she was under the care of an OB who monitored not just what she weighed but helped her make diet choices to be healthy and make the most of what she could keep down. But she didn't start to diet. She just ate healthier.

The other thing I wonder is if your friend, who may have struggled for a long time, is really losing weight to be healthy or if she's just really really scared to be bigger again. If she's scared, then she might want to talk to a nutritionist so she can feel better about what she eats and make good choices. Excersize in moderation is good for you. I took a lot of walks with DH when I was pregnant. But I didn't try to start training for a marathon.

If you are worried about her, maybe say so. "Are you okay? Is this pregnancy worrying you?" Remind her that her growing baby needs good nutrition and that people can gain 40 or 50 lbs and lose it after the birth.

Is she a fan of Angelina Jolie? I ask because supposedly she's pregnant with twins and looks like she doesn't eat enough for HERSELF let alone twins. Not someone anyone should emulate, IMO.

I had not heard of "mommyrexia" so I looked it up. Does this sound like your friend?

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answers from Houston on

I had a fit pregnancy and worked out EVERY single day up until the day I gave birth.... Then the day after I gave birth I did yoga in my hospital room. She can absolutely keep up her activity but dieting on the other hand is possibly dangerous. She needs 300 MORE calories a day then before she was pregnant. But if by dieting she is merely eating better choices,, that's a good idea.

Tell your friend to make sure she pays attention to her body and eats nutritiously,,, but yeah she can lose weight and work out while pregnant she just needs to educate herself on it.

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answers from Albany on

I lost 25 pounds in the last trimester of my third pregnancy. I was very sick (RSV went through the house), it was not intentional. I fractured 3 ribs coughing, I was in terrible pain.

The result was (in my case) a very small full term baby girl. Just under 6 lbs, but healthy. I got lucky.

So, of course, you're right. I hope she listens to all this good advice.


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answers from Seattle on

She should talk to her OB about this. Women who start a pregnancy obese are at higher risk for complication and can benefit from loosing weight during pregnancy. This should be done under the monitoring of a physician.

If your friend had a terrible diet with excess calories and lack of exercise until now, changing her diet to a healthier intake and reducing calories to a normal level can result in weight loss without having to starve herself. Pregnant women do not actually need a lot of additional calories, it is more important to take in normal levels of healthy nutrition (protein, minerals, vitamins) than "eating for two". Pregnancy is not an excuse to "pig out" - and eating too much and gaining too much weight is usually more dangerous than gaining too little, especially if starting out overweight.

Also there have been numerous studies on the benefit of moderate exercise during pregnancy. So while it may not be a good time to start training for her first marathon, walking, swimming, yoga and moderate cardio can be very beneficial, if ok'd by her doctor!

For most women weight loss during pregnancy equals less gain of weight. It is recommended that woman who weigh more gain less which can result in a net weight loss during pregnancy.
Pre-pregnancy weight: Recommended weight gain
Underweight (BMI less than 18.5) :28 to 40 pounds (about 13 to 18 kilograms)
Normal weight (BMI 18.5 to 24.9): 25 to 35 pounds (about 11 to 16 kilograms)
Overweight (BMI 25 to 29.9): 15 to 25 pounds (about 7 to 11 kilograms)
Obese (BMI 30 or more): 11 to 20 pounds (about 5 to 9 kilograms)

So if you really want to help your friend, tell her to talk to her doctor or midwife about her diet/eating and exercise habits. I had a midwife for my pregnancy and she had me do a food and activity diary for two weeks in my first trimester as part of my regular prenatal care to discuss appropriate nutrition and fitness during pregnancy - but I don't think many OB's do this routinely...
Good luck.

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answers from Fort Walton Beach on

I don't know how much I can believe with regards to weight during pregnancy. I was considered overweight (180) when I first was pregnant with our second, but I was told several times by the nurses I wasn't gaining enough and to eat more! Yet, I had another friend like the one you are describing who lost weight during her pregnancy because her boyfriend at the time (husband now) "liked skinny girls" (this is what she told me!). She delivered a healthy boy and I delivered a healthy girl. She got down to 90 lbs at 5'6" after he was born and looked like no one had fed her in a year. It made me sad for her because it felt she was more brainwashed than anything.

I think if she is hell bent on eating healthfuly and not starving herself, then let her "worry" about it.

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answers from Des Moines on

I'm morbidly obese. When I was pregnant I concentrated on eating my protein and veggies, drinking my water and NOT thinking about my weight at all! I also learned to give in to cravings IMMEDIATELY-- if you've been obsessing about ice cream for an hour a little Blue Bunny personal will be just right, if you've been fight the craving for a month the 5 qt pail is going down!

I also got in the pool and water walked every chance I got-- it felt SO good to use and stetch my muscles AND feel weightless at the same time.

I gained 17 pounds the first three months-- ALL in my bra (I went from a small 50DD to an overflowing 50I, but my pants still fit!) and then bounced within a 3 pound range the whole rest of the pregnancy......

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answers from St. Louis on

So long as you are getting the nutrients you and the baby need it is safe. What happens if you are not is the baby takes what it needs and you get what is left so it can do long term harm to mom.

Exercise is safe so long as your instructor is aware you are pregnant because some exercises can hurt you while pregnant.


answers from Houston on

Excersize is crucial during pregnancy. There are obviously some things she should avoid, but otherwise it is a very good thing to do, it will make delivery and getting back into shape after pregnancy easier. It may even make the rest of her pregnancy healthier. A recent study shows that obese women are more likely to have an autistic child. I even weight lift, with my Dr's okay, and I am 8 months pregnant. Also, improving her diet is also good to do while she is pregnant, especially since she is overweight. So long as she and baby are growing at a healthy rate, and she isn't starving herself, then what she is doing is fine. Unless she is doing a hard core fad diet or weight loss pills, then I wouldn't worry about it.


answers from Hartford on

As long as your friend is working out under direction of her doctor while she's pregnant then I see no issues with her working out for her entire pregnancy.

If she's eating more healthfully, meaning a well balanced diet that's recommended for pregnant women, and she happens to lose fat from it because she's obese then that's not a problem either. She needs to have her diet approved by her doctor or a nutritionist.

If she's fad-dieting, that's different because it's unhealthy for both her and the baby but mainly for her. Whatever nutrients she does take in on a fad diet will go directly to her baby and she'll end up nutrient deficient.

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