Weight Watchers can be a real help when you're keeping an eye on your waistline, but a Weight Watcher pregnancy probably isn't a good idea. When you're pregnant, you need plenty of calories and nutrition to keep both you and baby healthy.
The Trouble With Dieting While Pregnant
There's no harm in watching what you eat while you're pregnant. In fact, choosing healthy foods and aiming for a balanced diet is exactly what you should do. However, sometimes women who struggle with their weight feel uncomfortable with the idea of gaining pregnancy pounds. Sticking to a restrictive diet might seem like a good way to keep from plumping up--but think again.
Your growing baby needs protein, carbohydrates, fats, and vitamins to develop. Skimping on your food can mean baby doesn't get enough. Vitamins like folate and minerals like calcium and phosphorus are especially important to prevent birth defects and allow normal growth. Women who don't gain enough weight during pregnancy are also at risk of having underweight babies.
Lose the Weight First
If you're significantly overweight, consider going on your diet before you get pregnant. Instead of trying to create a Weight Watcher pregnancy diet, lose the weight before you conceive. This has several advantages:
- Normal-weight women have an easier time conceiving.
- Starting a pregnancy at normal weight makes it more likely you'll lose the baby weight afterward.
- Keeping fit can help you feel better throughout your pregnancy.
Risks of Obesity
According to the March of Dimes, women who are overweight or obese are at higher risk of both maternal complications and birth defects. Risks to mom include:
- gestational diabetes
- high blood pressure
- labor and delivery complications
Risks to baby include:
- neural tube defects and other birth defects
- stillbirth or neonatal death
- increased size and weight, which can lead to injury during delivery
Weight Watcher Pregnancy? Expect to Gain
Even if you're usually a weight watcher, pregnancy is not the time to lose pounds or to avoid gaining any. Even if you start out overweight, you should still gain about 20 pounds during pregnancy. A lot of that extra weight comes from the baby and the fluid that surrounds him or her. Some of it comes from the extra blood and water your own body needs to maintain the pregnancy.
According to the March of Dimes, a fully developed placenta weighs about 1.5 pounds. Amniotic fluid, in which the baby floats, weighs about 2 pounds. Your body needs about 3 pounds of extra blood and you'll retain about 4 pounds of water. Your breasts, which are getting ready to make milk for the baby, will get larger, adding as much as 2 pounds. Add in the baby's weight just before birth--about 7 pounds--and you're already up to 19.5 pounds.
Knowing all this, you might rethink the meaning of "weight watcher pregnancy!" Gaining the right amount of weight helps make sure the baby has what he or she needs.
Lose the Baby Weight
Many women find that breastfeeding helps them lose the baby weight. If that's not enough, or if you prefer to bottle feed, a healthy diet with plenty of exercise is the way to go.
If you want a structured diet plan, programs like Weight Watchers can help. In fact, research suggests that organized, structured plans can be a good way to lose weight. Outside support, from family or friends, is also a plus, and a Weight Watchers group can be your cheering section. They even have a special program for nursing moms.
For All New Moms
Weight Watchers suggests that all new moms check with their doctors before dieting. Then, assuming it's safe, you can begin trying to lose those baby pounds. Don't expect them to drop off all at once. Instead, aim for one to two pounds a week.
New moms who aren't breastfeeding can follow one of the regular Weight Watchers plans:
- The POINTS plan assigns number values to different foods; you can select from a wide variety of choices, as long as you keep to a certain number of points per day.
- The Core plan guides users to make healthy, nutritious choices without needing to count points.
There is a monthly fee to join a local meeting or you can subscribe to online tools at the Weight Watchers web site.
If You're Breastfeeding
If you're breastfeeding, Weight Watchers recommends waiting 6 to 8 weeks after giving birth before you start a diet, because losing too much weight too fast could interfere with your milk supply. Breastfeeding moms should plan to lose weight slowly, about a pound a week. This helps make sure your diet isn't interfering with baby's nutrition.
Make sure that any Weight Watcher's plan you choose is adjusted for breastfeeding. You need extra calories and protein to make milk, and a standard plan won't give you enough.