Thursday, September 8, 2011

Is it Safe to Diet During Pregnancy?

This is a question that many pregnant women and even those just thinking about getting pregnant have. Can they safely go on a diet while being pregnant? It is not recommended if dieting means trying to lose weight  or not gaining weight while pregnant. Some women are placed on a diet by their doctors, but this is in the rare case when they are putting on too much weight or if they are diabetic and there is a possibility of harm to the mother or the baby.

The issue of pregnant women going on weight-loss or weight maintenance diets while being pregnant has given rise to a new word, pregorexia. This is a condition where women are dieting and exercising to extreme levels while pregnant not to be healthy, but to manage their weight. Some experts believe this is mostly to help them regain their pre-pregnancy bodies quicker.

As it relates to her diet, a pregnant woman should ensure that she eats lots of:
  • Vegetables & Fruits: It is recommended that pregnant women eat at least seven servings of fruits and vegetables daily. The mix of fruits and vegetables could be varied daily, for example 4 servings of fruits and 3 of vegetables one day and the reverse the following day.
  • Protein: This nutrient is necessary for the growth and development of the baby and the health of the mother-to-be.
  • Water: At least eight -8 ounce glasses of water is recommended.

A pregnant woman is generally expected to gain between 20 and 25 pounds. This is not the same for all women as the amount of weight gained is dependent on other factors as well. These include whether or not the woman was underweight or overweight before getting pregnant. With the new focus on being slim many women are trying hard not to gain even that much.

Reasons why Pregnant Women Shouldn’t Diet
When a pregnant woman goes on a diet, she is not only cutting down on what she eats but nutrients for the fetus as well. In fact, since babies will try to pull all they need from the mother, it is the mother who will suffer the greater consequences of dieting. Some other ill effects from not gaining enough weight during pregnancy include:
  • Poor fetal growth, that is, the baby will not grow as much as it should. This is partly due to the fact that while in the mother’s womb the baby experiences its fastest rate of growth.
  • Premature birth is also sometimes associated with poor diet of the pregnant woman
  • Many low birth weight babies are born to women who did not eat properly during pregnancy and as such did not gain enough weight.
Pregnant women owe it to themselves and their babies to eat properly. This will ensure that they are both healthy during and after birth. Any weight issues should be dealt with prior to getting pregnant or after giving birth.

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