Pregnant women have been cautioned against dieting during those nine months – “pregnancy is not the time to cut down” is the popular view. However a new study conducted by British researchers tells us that a pregnancy diet to limit weight gain and one that is tailored to the needs of each pregnant woman is actually a good idea.
When and what sort of dieting is OK in pregnancy
According to estimates, one in five women who are pregnant may be obese. Also according to estimates, about 40% of women gain more weight during pregnancy than they need to. Considering what negative pregnancy outcomes may result from obese mothers, there is a case made out in favor of a healthy diet in pregnancy.
A balanced diet containing lean protein, whole grain, beans, vegetables and fruit that is tailored for the nutritional needs of a pregnant woman is best. This helps to lower the risk of complications. When pregnant women went on this healthy diet, they cut their gestational diabetes risk by 61% and also had a 33% lower risk of preeclampsia. The risk of preterm delivery was also seen to fall.
So, researchers arrived at the conclusion that for women who were already overweight and obese, losing weight through diet and exercise could help to lower risk of complications during the pregnancy.
Why experts say that weight loss is not for pregnant women
The view hitherto expressed is against weight loss during pregnancy. It is thought that going on a diet or having fewer calories than required to result in inadequate nutrition for the mother and fetus.
While overweight or obese women shouldn’t gain as much as the recommended weight gain for women of normal weight, they certainly should try and lose weight, says this view.
Experts point to the fact that mammals other than humans, also put on significant amounts of weight during pregnancy – even large ones such as whales and seals. These fat stores are required for the rigors of childbirth and subsequent breastfeeding it is argued.
The mother being malnourished and the baby being born with a low birth weight are some of the reasons why women shouldn’t try to lose weight when pregnant.
The best thing to do is to try and lose weight and get to a healthy weight before getting pregnant. The idea is to develop healthy eating habits and an active lifestyle that carry on through and beyond pregnancy.