Gaining weight during Pregnancy and Losing it post-partum
I see these questions pop up all the time on MFP. To my knowledge, there isn't a solid thread that thoroughly goes through all of this, and MFP has no official Pregnancy or Breastfeeding setting. Having been through the experience myself, I've decided to create this thread in hopes that it helps out a few mothers and mother-to-be. If anyone has anything to add to this, or add their own experiences, feel free to chime in. Please remember, this is a rough guide. Always, before doing anything, please consult with your doctor and/or OBGYN.
Congrats, you're pregnant! Hormones are flowing and a gamut of emotions is pulling you in all directions. You want a healthy pregnancy, but don't want to gain 60 lbs, have an 8 lb baby and be left with 42 lbs to lose afterwards. So how do you maintain a healthy
pregnancy weight gain? First, the old addage "eating for two" needs to be thrown out the window. That's bunk. However, you do need extra calories to grow your little bundle of joy. So how much extra and over what kind of time frame are we talking?
According to the Manual of Nutritional Therapeutics, BMR increases 5% in the first trimester, 10% in the second trimester and 25% in the third. However, because of the powers that be, activity during the first trimester drops 2-6% (can you say, exhaustion????!!!). Therefor:
First Trimester: No extra calories are to be added to your TDEE (Total Daily Energy Expenditure, aka, the calories you need to maintain your current weight)
Second Trimester: Add 350 calories to your TDEE
Third Trimester: Add 450 calories to your TDEE
To add your new calorie goal, First you need to know what your maintenance calories are. You can either do this through MFP's guided setup (maintain) or you can use an online TDEE calculator, such as http://scoobysworkshop.com/accurate-calorie-calculator/
Now that you know your TDEE, you can add your additional calories. Go to "My Home" > Daily Nutrition Goals (EDIT) > Calories > Enter your new number
Alternatively, you can use http://www.freedieting.com/tools/pregnancy_calorie_calculator.htm
to calculate each trimester's calorie needs (with your exercise already included) and customize your goal to that.
So how much weight should you gain total?
Based on BMI (and a singleton pregnancy), if you are:
underweight (BMI* less than 18.5) - 28 to 40 pounds
normal weight (BMI of 18.5 to 24.9) - 25 to 35 pounds
overweight (BMI of 25 to 29.9) - 15 to 25 pounds
obese (BMI of 30+) - 11 to 20 pounds
Therefor, you should expect to gain 1 to 4 pounds total in the first 3 months and 2 to 4 pounds each month from 4 months until delivery. It's important to note the just as weight loss isn't linear, neither is pregnancy weight gain. During your pregnancy, you may experience sudden (large) weight gains. Usually it's a couple of things, such as hormones, growth spurt, milk production, maternal fat storage, increased blood supply, etc. When all is said and done, you're looking at:
Baby: 7 to 8 pounds
Larger breasts: 2 pounds
Larger uterus: 2 pounds
Placenta: 1 1/2 pounds
Amniotic fluid: 2 pounds
Increased blood volume: 3 to 4 pounds
Increased fluid volume: 3 to 4 pounds
Fat stores: 6 to 8 pounds
Also note, it is dangerous to lose weight during pregnancy. If you are looking to lose weight while pregnant, always, ALWAYS, ALWAYS!!!!! consult with your doctor first. Do not attempt to do it on your own, or without your doctor's supervision. There are too many things involved to attempt it on our own and without medical supervision. Remember, pregnancy is not just about you, it's about your baby too. You can always lose weight after baby's arrival.
Please keep in mind too that some women retain more fluid than others. If you're gaining too much weight, or your doctor suspects Pre-Eclampsia, your doctor will let you know. You'll also be tested for gestational diabetes, so prepare yourself for pure liquid glucose! Fun times, that. If you are diagnosed with GD, your doctor should refer you to a GD nutritionist/dietician to help you get your numbers and diet under control.
Lastly, I want to say: Relax. Weight gain happens. Don't stress yourself out too much about the scale going up. Believe me when I say, it's going to drive you crazy. I tried not to stress out from my own pregnancy, having gone from losing 57 lbs, to suddenly gaining. It was a pure mental battle for me. And now after all has been said and done, I really should have just let it be. I freaked out way too much about the large gains and in retrospect, I wish I had given myself more of a 'mental break' from it.
Losing weight Post-partum/Breastfeeding
I see new mothers every single day wanting to lose weight after having a baby. Let's face it, you want your body back. However, between the stresses of having a newborn, feeling like you're starving, and just trying to get a shower in, it's hard to face the mountain that is weight loss and climb it. Fortunately for you, you have this neat tool, called BOOBIES! Haha.
One of the greatest things about breastfeeding, is that it burns calories. And lots of them. It's important though to eat an appropriate amount of calories to make up both weight loss and sustain milk supply. So how do you figure out your calorie needs while breastfeeding and how much is safe to lose without your supply suffering?
Well, as far as I can tell, there are four ways to skin this cat:
LLL (La Leche League) recommends a minimum of 1800 calories a day, and you should not go below 1500 calories (unless the odd day out, sick, etc).
You can customize your MFP goal to 1800+ calories, add your exercise calories in, and voila, your breastfeeding is accounted for. This total, however, does not account for your age, height, weight, etc. So make sure you're eating appropriately. If you are tall or are overweight, for example, expect to eat alot more. For reference (I'll use myself), I'm 5'2 and 152 lbs (AKA, still overweight). I have my calorie goal set to 2000 calories. I'm losing weight steadily. So before going to the bare minimum, try a higher goal (say 2200, for example) and then tweak it from there based on your results and your milk supply.
A 2005 Research Article states that an exclusively breastfeeding mother burns 454 calories (based on 749g of milk, approx 26.4 oz) per day.
This means, for every ounce of milk you produce, you are burning approx 17 calories. For those mommies who like to log by the amount of milk they produce, you can either "Quick Add" your negative calories (put in negative servings, like -454 for the 26.4 oz as an example. Your actual production would vary), or if you want to round up, there are entries in the food database for 1oz= -20 calories. It's really up to you which you choose and/or how accurate you care to be.
For those of you less mathematically inclined, in the past, the previous general rule of thumb was, add 500 calories (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21349230
) if you are exclusively breastfeeding (0 through 5 months), and 300 if your baby is partially on solids (6 months+). You can either add this in a customized goal, or add it daily in your food log under breastfeeding (there are several options).
And lastly, for fans of TDEE calculators, you can simply use
and customize your goal with that number.
So now that you can figure out how many calories to eat (with a slight deficit), how much is safe to lose while breastfeeding?
First, you should wait until you are 8 weeks post-partum and have the go-ahead from your OB. It's important to let yourself heal from the birthing process before putting your body under the stress of weight loss. You also need to establish your milk supply. I know it's hard to wait and you want your body back, but you need to exercise patience and a basic understanding of "your body just went through some major stuff, so be kind to it!".
Secondly, it's recommended to lose about 1-1.1 lbs per week (4-4.4 lbs/month), safely. Without doctor supervision, you should not aim to lose more.
I also want to note, I've seen many women state that they were unable to lose weight while breastfeeding and didn't begin to lose until they weaned. I don't know the science behind that, or whether it's hormonal or what have you. So if your loss is slow or non-existent, please keep this in mind. Sometimes I feel like pregnancy and post-partum is a giant wormhole for weight. Nothing ever makes sense, haha!
So that's the basics. I may be missing something, or maybe missing some good research links, but that's the gist. If anyone has anything to add, go for it.
For those interested, I began losing weight June 2013. I lost 57 lbs and then got pregnant May 2014. I continued to log, and exercised about 3x a week (swimming) for most of my pregnancy. I gained 24.6 lbs (within my recommended amount according to BMI). My daughter was born January 15, 2015. She was 7 lbs. I slowly but steadily began losing my pregnancy weight. At 17 weeks post-partum (4 months), I've lost all of it, and have continued on to work on my ultimate goal and am under my pre-pregnancy weight.
I sincerely hope this helps others out there!
Other threads of note, that I think are helpful during this process:
Lastly, I will impart upon you:
Fit, Fabulous & Pregnant! Group
Post-Partum Pack Group