Most women strive to lose all of their baby fat after their first pregnancy. Your body after you give birth will look quite different, but with diet and exercise, it will return to how it was before your pregnancy, for the most part. Losing baby fat will boost your self-esteem and give you more energy to be the best new mom you can be. However, a recent study also shows that, if you plan on having another baby in the future, losing any weight you gained during your first pregnancy is vital to you and your baby’s health. Gaining weight or keeping extra weight on between your pregnancies puts you at an increased risk for gestational diabetes.

Gestational diabetes (GDM) during your pregnancy can be extremely dangerous. It is a type of diabetes that only lasts the duration of your pregnancy, and women that get it need to keep their insulin levels steady. Even with proper care and management, babies born to women with gestational diabetes are often born with growth abnormalities. Many women with GDM require a cesarean section because their babies are abnormally large. If you have a normal BMI and eat a healthy diet, your risk for GDM is low. Women who are overweight upon conception are at a high risk, and women who gain weight between pregnancies are at an even higher risk.

Gaining weight between pregnancies even has side effects that go beyond GDM. If you gain weight after your first pregnancy but before your second, you’re at a higher risk for preeclampsia, hypertension during your pregnancy and stillbirth. Obviously, these are serious health risks, so losing weight after your first pregnancy or even just keeping additional weight off can be extremely beneficial. Breastfeeding, exercising, and eating a healthy diet after your first pregnancy are all proven ways to maintain a healthy weight.

Even if you maintained a healthy weight through your first pregnancy, gaining extra weight before your second puts you at a high risk for many complications. If you have your first baby and think you might try for a second anytime in the future, make sure you don’t gain too much weight, as it could put you and your baby at risk for serious problems. If you’re having trouble keeping weight off, speak with your health care provider about a good diet plan that might fit in well with your lifestyle.

Source: Samantha F. Ehrlich et al: Change in Body Mass Index Between Pregnancies and the Risk of Gestational Diabetes in a Second Pregnancy. Obstetrics and Gynecology Volume 117 Issue 6 pp 1323-1330 June 2011