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I Plan to Diet While Pregnant and I’m Not Sorry

Photograph by Twenty20

My husband and I were recently quite shocked to learn that after having declared we were done with having kids, we are in fact pregnant with baby No. 3. Personally, this news startled me because at 30 pounds medically overweight already, I am not looking forward to packing on another 30 pounds and getting even more unhealthy than I already am.

I asked my closest girlfriends, all moms who are all in great shape, if they thought dieting during pregnancy is a solid idea. They each had a shade of no with some sage advice attached. They worried that I meant a crash diet. They wondered if this was about vanity. They pointed out that I could enjoy eating for two and then work on my hot mom bod after I deliver.

But I don’t want to wait.

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I decided that I would use this pregnancy as a leaping off point to make the healthiest choices that I can in order to get through pregnancy without developing some of the consequences of being an overweight pregnant mom. So I called my doctor and asked her a bunch of questions.

Let’s face it, being pregnant is full of unflattering symptoms.

Do I really have to eat for two? Nope. Turns out I can keep my 1,600 daily calories and not worry about bumping up 300 or 400 extra calories until the second trimester when my growing belly will need those extra calories.

Is it safe for me to start exercising? Sure is. As long as I stick to movements that won’t increase my potential to be injured. Gentle yoga, walking, swimming and even some Pilates—all my favorite things anyway—are totally safe for most pregnant women.

Is it possible to lose weight during pregnancy without harming my growing baby? Yes. In fact, if you stick to healthy pregnancy diet under a doctor’s guidelines, get plenty of water, rest and movement, it is totally safe for an overweight woman to lose a little bit of weight during pregnancy. Most women tend to lose at least some weight in the first trimester thanks to morning sickness, which comes with those fun symptoms of retching or loss of appetite.

My motivating fear to get and stay healthy is to avoid some of the problems that can arise for curvaceous moms during gestation. According to the March of Dimes, being overweight while pregnant can lead to high blood pressure, blood clots, gestational diabetes, pre-eclampsia or miscarriage. And while they do not advocate for dieting to lose weight (because that would be unethical), they do suggest adopting a healthy pregnancy diet with exercise in order to get and stay healthy for the baby’s sake.

And isn’t "getting and staying healthy" what this is all about? I’m not suggesting that any woman diet during pregnancy in a manner that will hurt their baby or for vain reasons. Let’s face it, being pregnant is full of unflattering symptoms from farting to peeing while laughing to morning sickness, and crazy wild mood swings. There really isn’t much that is pretty about being pregnant. And so trying to look cute in any outfit is kind of a moot point.

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But to be healthy? That should be a goal for all moms. That is the goal for me. So, instead of shoving that cheese Danish in my pie hole (even though I really, really, want to) I am bringing carrot sticks and hummus to work with me as a healthy snack. And instead of sitting on my butt at night and flipping through the TV stations, I’m rolling out the yoga mat and trying out new prenatal yoga poses.

By making small and steady changes to my health, for the sake of this baby and my sanity, I am hoping that I can effect permanent change to my lifestyle. And I won’t lie, if I end up a few pounds lighter by the time this is all over, then I will surely feel proud that the changes I made worked.

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