With many of us spending more time at home during 2020, our lifestyles may have generally become more sedentary, with less regular exercise or less opportunities to look after our physical (and mental!) health. As a result, many of us have put on weight or struggled to maintain an active lifestyle.
If you are attempting to conceive in 2021, here are some reasons why you may want to consider losing weight before getting pregnant:
Not only can being overweight make it difficult to conceive in first place, getting pregnant whilst overweight can increase the risk of pregnancy complications such as gestational diabetes – a condition that increases the amount of glucose in your body because you don’t produce enough insulin. Gestational diabetes cannot only cause your baby to have a higher birth weight (making labor more challenging and risky), but can also increase the likelihood of premature labor and pre-eclampsia.
How can I lose weight safely before getting pregnant?
Whilst you may have a substantial amount of weight to lose, now is not the time to start crash diets, skipping meals or drastically reduce your calorie intake. On the contrary, restricting your food intake with dangerous diet fads can actually starve your body of essential nutrients and leads to crashes in mood and energy levels.
Instead, it is recommended that you speak to your physician or Ob-Gyn before making changes to your diet and exercise levels. They may recommend some advice from a Nutritionist beforehand to give you the best chances of finding a successful pre-pregnancy diet.
Some of the most obvious practical ways to lose weight before becoming pregnant can include:
- Meal planning – Take a look at the meals you are consuming and aim to reduce calorie intake or portion size, whilst maintaining a balanced diet full of all the main food groups. Meal planning is a great way to ensure that you are eating appropriate meals but can also help reduce waste and mange your budgets more efficiently too.
- Make food swaps – If you are putting on weight, chances are some of your food choices aren’t the most appropriate in terms of their fat content and calorie levels. Look at some simple food swaps you can make to reduce your overall calorie consumption whilst ensuring you are still consuming a sensible amount of calories to provide energy. For example, swap that packet or crisps for a rice cake or two, or swap sugary snacks for fruit or yoghurt, which can satisfy your sweet cravings whilst being better for your overall health.
- To help kick start your weight loss, aim to increase your exercise levels, generally moving more and taking part in activities that can increase your heart rate and help burn calories. You could consider brisk walking around your estate, swimming a few lengths of the pool each morning or some relaxing yoga as a good starting point. It is recommended that you start slow and gradually build up to increase your levels of activity to avoid injury or overexertion.
- If you diet isn’t great, another important factor when preparing to conceive is to add in a prenatal vitamin and folic acid to your diet, usually in the form of a supplement. This will help ensure you get the main nutrients that your diet may otherwise be lacking. For the ideal pre pregnancy diet, you want to keep your iron, vitamin D and vitamin C levels high. Foods that are rich in these nutrients tend to be more healthier options too.
Not only can reducing your weight help improve your chances of get pregnant in the first place, but improving your overall physical and mental health can help your body cope better with the physical challenges of pregnancy itself.
Don’t overdo it, take one step at a time and take those first steps in preparing your body for childbirth.