I am 120kg and pregnant. Can I still lose weight while pregnant? I don't want to lose too much I only want to lose the fat on my arms and legs. Can I walk every day and also do weights for my arms? Will it hurt the baby?
The general recommendation during pregnancy is not to actively try to lose weight. Often women will find that they are at their healthiest during their pregnancy so those that started their pregnancy with a few extra kilos of weight, may actually find that their weight does not increase as the pregnancy continues.
This indicates that the physical changes of pregnancy are occurring, but that the extra stores that they started with are reducing. Existing fat stores become depleted from the increased physical needs of the pregnancy and increased metabolism. As such, provided you eat well and take care of yourself this is completely safe for you and your baby.
During a pregnancy, the recommended weight gain is considered to be 2-3kg in the first 20 weeks and then 500g per week until the baby is due. This averages to be approximately 12-14kg in total. Every woman is different so it is essential not to be too limited by this average. When you review the weight distribution, the average gain of 12-14kg can be attributed to:
- 3-4kg for the baby;
- 500g for the placenta;
- 1kg for amniotic fluid;
- 1kg for the enlarged uterus;
- 1.5kg for increased blood volume;
- 500g for increased breast size;
- 3.5kg for fat stores for breastfeeding; and
- 1.5kg for fluid retention.
Obviously not all women will experience all of the above effects identically. As such, as long as you are healthy your baby will likely be as well.
The most important aspects to focus on are your own and your baby's health. Pregnancy is not a time to put yourself on restrictive diets or aggressive exercise regimes. Ensure that you eat a balanced, nutritionally optimal diet that focuses on healthy, fresh and nutritious foods. Most women are motivated to eat well especially because they are pregnant. Use this time as an opportunity to create and sustain healthy dietary practices, which will provide you with long-term health and wellbeing.
With respect to exercise, the recommendation is to avoid any exercise that increases your heart rate more than 130 beats per minute. Some women will find that in the first and third trimester that fatigue is more pronounced, preventing physical activity. Make sure you listen to your body and do not put too much pressure on it. Now is not the time to start training for a triathlon!
Regardless, regular physical activity is an important part of health and wellbeing. In the first trimester, gentle walking and light weights are often the most important, adding yoga and Pilates in second trimester can provide relief from tired muscles and joints and moving towards swimming in the third trimester can relieve the pressure of the increased weight on your back and joints.
Ultimately, exercise should be about improved physical fitness, relaxation and enjoyment. Other activities, such as running, high-impact aerobics, cycling, contact and competitive sports, weights or martial arts, may need to be modified, reduced or stopped as your pregnancy progresses.
Most importantly, remember that during pregnancy you have a number of hormone surges, including increased progesterone and relaxin, which make your muscles and ligaments more relaxed and softened. As such, you are more prone to strains and sprains so always warm up and stretch before and after exercise and don't push yourself.
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