Q: I'm 40 pounds overweight--is it okay for me to continue to diet while pregnant?
Related: 25 Lazy Ways to Stay Skinny
A: I don't recommend it. Regardless of your starting weight, it's important to gain, not lose, when you're expecting. Restricting calories in order to shed pounds can starve the fetus of nutrients it needs to grow and develop, and may also increase the risk of miscarriage or low birth weight. That said, for an overweight woman, less weight gain is needed for a healthy pregnancy. On average, a woman who is within a normal weight range should gain between 25 and 35 pounds, while an overweight woman needs to gain between 15 and 25 pounds. Obese women should gain even less--only 11 to 20 pounds. And bear this in mind: Some women think that if they're taking prenatal vitamins, they don't have to be concerned about their diet, but vitamins alone do not supply all the nutrients a baby needs. So make sure you're eating well-balanced meals, loaded with fruits and veggies. Then, after you give birth, talk to your doctor about a safe way to ditch the pounds.
Hilda Hutcherson, M.D., is a clinical professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Columbia University's College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York City and the author of Pleasure. Send your questions to her at email@example.com.
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