Healthy weight before pregnancy is good for you and good for your baby

January 13, 2020

If you’re planning on getting pregnant and one of your goals for the New Year is to get to a healthy weight, then you’re on the right track. Your health before pregnancy matters. Being at a healthy weight can help you have a healthy baby and pregnancy.

What is best for you is also best for your baby

Not only does being healthy and at a healthy weight help improve your chances of getting pregnant, it can also reduce your risk of having pregnancy complications when you do get pregnant. Some other benefits of being at a healthy weight include:

  • Good heart health.
  • It lowers your risk of getting diabetes before and during pregnancy.
  • You’re less likely to have high blood pressure. If you have high blood pressure already, losing weight can help keep it under control.
  • You are less likely to have serious complications like preeclampsia, have a baby that is too big (macrosomia) or need a C-section (considered major surgery).
  • Your baby is less likely to have health problems. Being overweight or obese increases the risk of a baby being born prematurely, having certain birth defects, and needing to spend time in the newborn intensive care unit (NICU). It can also be good for their long-term health and reduce their risk of childhood obesity.

Setting the right goals

It’s easy to feel confused when there are so many different tips about how to achieve a healthy weight. The most important thing is to set a goal that isn’t going to be hard to accomplish. For example, if you want to lose 20 pounds, start with a goal of losing 2 pounds at a time. Once you lose 2 pounds, celebrate that achievement. Then set the goal again to lose another 2 pounds until you reach the final goal.

Being physically active is also key to achieving a healthy weight. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that adults get 2½ hours a week of moderate-intensity activity (like fast walking). This is about 30 minutes, at least 5 days a week. Two of these days should include strength training.

You don’t have to do all 2½ hours at once! Instead, break it up through the week. For example, do 30 minutes on most or all days. If this sounds like a lot, split up the 30 minutes by doing something active for 10 minutes three times each day.

Healthy meals make all the difference

Eating foods from the five food groups at every meal is very important. Make sure your whole meal fits on one plate and don’t make huge portions. Some things that can help you avoid overeating include drinking a glass of water before your meals, eating slowly, and chewing your food well. Here are some other helpful tips:

  • Increase the amount of vegetables you eat. Fill half of your plate with fruits and vegetables. Be sure to choose the ones you like best and avoid adding dressing, cream, or cheese to your vegetables.
  • Don’t drink your calories. Sugary drinks are high in calories. Instead drink 6 to 8 glasses of water each day. 
  • Plan your meals. Check out this easy sample menu. Cook at home, and if you can take lunch to work and a healthy snack, like a fresh fruit.
  • Get the right support. If you have a friend who wants to lose weight or whose goal is to eat healthy and increase her physical activity, do it together!

Not sure what a healthy weight range is for you? Ask your health care provider what your healthy weight is and ask them to help you achieve it.