It Is Safe to Lose Weight During Pregnancy

“Doctors hadn’t encouraged pregnant women who were obese to limit their weight gain or have them lose weight because they were afraid it would hurt the baby,” says Raul Artal, M.D., principal investigator and chair of the department of obstetrics, gynecology and women’s health at Saint Louis University. “We found that obese women do not have to gain any weight, and, in fact, can lose weight and it won’t hurt the baby. Pregnancy is an ideal time to start an exercise and fitness program, particularly for women who are obese.”

For this study, Dr. Artal and his colleagues examined two groups of pregnant women who were obese and had gestational diabetes, a condition common in about seven percent of all pregnancies. Of the 96 women studied, 39 dieted and exercised to control their weight and 57 followed the diet routinely given to patients who have gestational diabetes.

Those who exercised were supervised riding a semi-recumbent stationary cycle or walking on a treadmill at least once a week. They also were encouraged to maintain an exercise routine the other six days of the week. Half of the women in the group that exercised said they worked out for at least 30 minutes a day, five times a week, which is the recommended exercise guideline for the non-pregnant population.

Significantly more women who exercised and dieted either lost or maintained their weight than women in the group that followed the standard diabetic diet, the study found. Findings suggest the babies born to women who lost or maintained their weight were more likely to be of normal size. Infants born to women who gained weight were more likely to be bigger – eight pounds, eight ounces and heavier.

More women who gained weight during pregnancy delivered their babies by Caesarean section than those who lost or kept their weight constant.; Source: Saint Louis University Medical Center