Losing Weight While Pregnant: Risks & Reasons

Losing Weight While Pregnant: Risks & Reasons

Worried about weight loss during pregnancy?

We all expect to gain some weight during pregnancy—after all, there’s a small human growing in there, and our bodies need to provide a safe and cozy home.

So, what happens when, instead of adjusting to the extra pounds, you find yourself losing weight while pregnant?

We’ve got all you need to know to stay safe.

Important note: This is just a guide.

If you’re at all concerned about weight loss in pregnancy, go directly to your healthcare provider and get their professional (and personalized) advice.

In this article: 📝

  • Is weight gain during pregnancy normal?
  • How much should you weigh during pregnancy?
  • How many calories should a pregnant woman eat?
  • Is it normal not to gain weight in early pregnancy?
  • Why am I losing weight while pregnant?
  • Losing weight in the first trimester
  • Why am I losing weight in second trimester?
  • Why am I losing weight in third trimester?
  • Is it safe to lose weight while pregnant?
  • Can you get in shape while pregnant?

Is weight gain during pregnancy normal?

Gaining weight during pregnancy is totally normal and necessary for the task of growing a whole new person.

As for the amount of weight gain, it varies, with most mamas-to-be putting on between 10 to 12.5 kg.

Some of that extra weight is, of course, accounted for by your developing baby and placenta.

But the majority of those extra pounds go into the fat stores that your body is building up to support you through the process of pregnancy, labor, and breastfeeding.

It looks a little something like this:

Baby 7-8 pounds
Breasts 1-3 pounds
Uterus 2 pounds
Placenta 1.5 pounds
Amniotic fluid 2 pounds
Blood volume 3-4 pounds
Fluid volume 2-3 pounds
Fat stores 6-8pounds

How much should you weigh during pregnancy?

The rate of weight gain is different depending on how far through your pregnancy you are.

In the first trimester, you may only put on around one to four pounds in total (your baby is the size of a walnut at this point!).

From four months until delivery, you’re probably looking at around two to four pounds of weight gain each month.

To achieve that, you don’t actually need to follow the old saying to “eat for two”!

How many calories should a pregnant woman eat?

The number of calories each woman needs can vary, so it’s always better to listen to your healthcare provider.

For example, if your recommended daily allowance is 2000 calories, and you’re hitting that each day you won’t need to increase your calories until the final three months of pregnancy.

And even then, you don’t need to increase it much more.

There’s a lot of varying info out there, but on average, the range is from 200-400 calories per day.

And the latest research suggests an extra 300 calories per day in the third trimester.

That’s the equivalent of eating an apple with two tablespoons of peanut butter or one cup of 2% cottage cheese with half a cup of mashed banana.

Not craving any of those? We’ve got lots more healthy and nutritious pregnancy snack ideas for you.

Is it normal not to gain weight in early pregnancy?

No weight gain for the first trimester is perfectly normal—baby won’t be needing much by way of nutrients until about week 16 of your pregnancy.

But not gaining weight during the second trimester could be a sign that baby’s not getting the nutrients they need, so if that’s the case, pay a visit to your doctor.

They might suggest a pregnancy meal plan or for you to increase your calorie intake.

Why am I losing weight while pregnant?

So, if weight gain is essential for growing a baby, why do some women actually lose weight while pregnant?

And is weight loss during pregnancy safe?

Between the pregnancy nausea or food aversion, it’s totally normal to lose a couple of pounds in the first trimester.

It’s if you’re losing more than two to three pounds in your first trimester that experts advise talking with your doctor.

The reasons for weight loss vary depending on what stage of pregnancy you’re in—we break it down by trimester below.

Losing weight in the first trimester

As we mentioned above, it’s common to experience some weight loss in the first trimester when morning sickness strikes.

Around 70 to 80% of pregnant women experience nausea or vomiting at this early stage, which can mean that no appetite in the first trimester is pretty common, too.

And when all you’ve been able to stomach for days is a couple of crackers or some dry toast, it’s no wonder that losing weight in the first trimester is the result.

The good news is that morning sickness often (though not always) clears up in the second trimester, giving you plenty of time to compensate for the lost pounds.

Remember that, typically, there’s only very minimal weight gain needed in the first trimester anyway.

What can present a problem is a more severe form of morning sickness experienced by some women, called HG (hyperemesis gravidarum).

This is where very frequent vomiting leads to more substantial weight loss.

However, it is treatable with medication and extra fluids, and it usually retreats around weeks 14 to 20.

Why am I losing weight during pregnancy without morning sickness?

We’ve heard from our mamas on Peanut that they’ve lost 10 pounds in first trimester without any pregnancy nausea.

While it’s not that common, losing weight while pregnant first trimester with no morning sickness has been known to happen.

If this is happening to you, check in with your healthcare provider, just in case.

Do you burn more calories when pregnant first trimester?

Technically speaking, no, you don’t burn more calories during the first trimester of pregnancy.

And you shouldn’t need to add more calories to your diet during the first trimester.

The need for additional calories will be needed later in pregnancy, though, as your metabolism increases ‒ you are carrying another human, after all!

Why am I losing weight in second trimester?

There can be a few reasons why you’re losing weight in your second trimester.

Morning sickness might have stuck around, making it hard to keep food down.

However, if you’re losing consistently for more than a couple of weeks of your pregnancy, you should talk with your doctor.

Do you lose weight when pregnant with a boy?

Actually, it could be to the contrary!

According to this 2014 study, not gaining as much weight during pregnancy could mean that you’re pregnant with a beautiful baby girl!

However, the results were pretty close, so how much or little weight you gain or lose during pregnancy may not be linked to the sex of your baby.

Why am I losing weight in third trimester?

A lot of mamas-to-be find themselves losing weight in third trimester, especially as they get closer to their due date.

This pregnancy weight loss is nothing to worry about‒it’s usually because your amniotic fluid levels may be reducing and your energy levels are increasing (which could be a sign of nesting).

Is it normal to lose weight at 32 weeks pregnant?

Weight loss at 32 weeks of pregnancy can be totally normal, but there’s a chance it also might not.

It could be that your energy levels have peaked, and you’re burning more calories than before, but it can also mean that there’s something impacting baby’s development.

As with all unusual pregnancy weight loss, it’s best to talk with your healthcare provider.

Does losing weight mean labor is near?

It might be.

As your amniotic levels drop when you get closer to your due date, that could cause some pregnancy weight loss in the third trimester, too.

🔎 Take a closer look: Signs That Labor is 24–48 Hours Away

Is it safe to lose weight while pregnant?

If you find yourself with some unexplained weight loss during pregnancy, this is something to mention to your healthcare provider.

Some medical conditions can lead to losing weight in pregnancy, including infections, hormonal imbalance, undiagnosed diabetes, and an overactive thyroid.

But if you’re asking because you’re struggling with weight gain, we hear you.

Your body is going through some pretty wild changes—not all of which are visible—and it can be a difficult adjustment.

The discomfort you’re feeling is real, valid, and shared by so many in the Peanut community.

No matter the intention that brings you here, asking is it safe to lose weight during pregnancy shows you’ve got baby’s well-being on your mind.

So, let’s tackle it from all angles to get you the answers you need for both of you to thrive.

Risks of losing weight during pregnancy

You might rightly ask “ok, so when should I worry about weight loss during pregnancy?”

As we saw above, losing weight in the first trimester isn’t usually an issue, but continuing to lose weight during pregnancy can potentially cause problems for your baby.

After all, they need those extra calories to grow and develop!

Losing weight during pregnancy has been linked to a lower birth weight for babies and preterm birth.

This could then lead to other health problems during baby’s life as they didn’t get enough energy or nutrients for their full development in the uterus.

So, if you’re concerned about losing weight during pregnancy, be sure to check in with your healthcare provider.

Lack of appetite during pregnancy

In pregnancy, loss of appetite can be par for the course.

If you have no appetite while pregnant, whether that’s due to pregnancy nausea, food aversion, or pregnancy cravings that you can’t satisfy (hello, pica), you’re not alone.

In fact, according to this 2019 study, 69.2% of women had an aversion to at least one food, which can cause a lack of appetite during pregnancy.

Having no appetite while pregnant can be tough but not impossible to solve.

After all, baby needs their nutrients to grow!

Try eating smaller portions or healthy pregnancy snacks more often rather than bigger meals.

Can I lose weight during pregnancy if I’m overweight?

You might have heard stories of some women losing 50 lbs while pregnant, or how another mama lost 60 pounds during pregnancy.

The reality is we can’t really tell you whether an overweight person can lose weight while pregnant.

It depends on your personal circumstances, health, medication, and lifestyle.

While it has been proven that a higher BMI (body mass index) can increase the risk of complications in pregnancy, it’s not the definitive way of telling if someone is actually overweight.

If you think that your weight could impact your pregnancy, have a talk with your doctor about how to safely lose weight while pregnant.

Can you lose fat while pregnant?

Yes, you can lose fat while pregnant, although there’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to healthy weight loss.

Again, the best thing to do if you’re keen to lose weight while pregnant is to speak with your healthcare provider.

As for what happens to existing belly fat when pregnant, it might be that your pregnancy belly isn’t as obvious as you might expect.

But later in pregnancy, you may notice that your belly fat spreads more evenly over your baby bump.

Can you get in shape while pregnant?

If you’re looking for a detailed guide on how to lose weight during pregnancy, let us tell you now that you won’t find it—not here or anywhere else.

The same goes for a “how not to gain weight during pregnancy” handbook.

But staying healthy for your body during pregnancy, postpartum, and beyond—that’s something we can all get behind.

Because the reality is weight gain while pregnant is perfectly normal and pretty necessary (no matter what ‘bounce-back’ culture tells you).

From personal experience, we know it’s easier said than done to stay on top of the healthy stuff—but when it comes to helping your baby grow and keeping you well throughout, there are some things you can benefit from:

1. Eating well 🥙

Fill up on plenty of veggies, whole grains, and protein (lean meats, lentils, nuts, and seeds).

And, you guessed it, keep sugary snacks in moderation—though fruit offers a great energy boost.

Ask your healthcare provider which vitamin and mineral supplements you could be taking, too.

2. Staying hydrated 🚰

Replace caffeinated beverages (tea, coffee, cola) with water, herbal tea, or unsweetened fruit juice (in moderation).

Drinking enough water during pregnancy will help your growing baby get the nutrients they need.

And it’s also great for preventing constipation.

3. Keeping active 🏊‍♀️

Gentle exercise during pregnancy is safe for you and your baby, and may help relieve your bump-related aches and pains.

You could try a walk in the park, a light swim at your local pool, or even a prenatal yoga class.

4. Sleep well 😴

Getting the sleep you need while pregnant is fundamental for absorbing the nutrients both you and baby need, so get those z’s, mama!

5. Pregnancy walks 🚶‍♀️

Sure, we’ve mentioned exercise, but it turns out low-intensity walking can help increase sleep quality and quantity—especially in the second half of pregnancy.

And a 2021 study revealed that walking during late pregnancy could increase the spontaneous onset of labor and decrease the induction of a cesarean.

Weight loss during pregnancy—whether it’s intentional or not—is complicated.

And for some, it’s made even more confusing by the jarring changes the body goes through during pregnancy.

Paying attention to how your body feels is essential, but so is staying mindful of your mental health.

If you’re anxious about losing weight while pregnant or about gaining too much, the mamas and mamas-to-be on Peanut are here.

Better yet, they get it.

You’re not alone. ❤️


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