Many of us strive to be at our ideal weight through life. We do this by exercising and eating a restricted diet that is low in calories. As a teenager or young adult, you probably even tried some diet fads that including drastic measures such as completely cutting out carbs or following a juice diet. Now that you’re of childbearing age, you’ve probably settled into a consistent diet. Even if weight and nutrition aren’t that important to your normally, if you are thinking of conceiving, you should adjust your diet right away to be as healthy as possible, and you should continue it through the duration of your pregnancy.

Before you conceive, you should have a BMI of 18.5-25. This is considered a healthy weight. Any BMI above 30 is considered obese, and it could put you and your baby at risk. If your BMI is over 30 and you are considering pregnancy, focus on getting down to a healthy weight first. The risks associated with obesity in pregnancy can be quite serious.

During pregnancy, it is expected that you will gain weight. This weight gain, however, should not occur through the duration of your pregnancy. It should be mainly limited to the last trimester according to guidelines set forth by the Institute of Medicine. Gaining weight before the last trimester could lead to complications both for you and your baby, and it will make it harder to lose the weight post-partum.

Post-partum, many women are expected to gain weight due to the inability to get exercise with their new lifestyle. However, this gain shouldn’t be drastic, and women should try to maintain a healthy weight with a healthy diet. Though, “dieting” is not recommended at all. Especially for women who are breastfeeding, essential nutrients are often left out of the traditional weight-loss diet. Breastfeeding itself will burn calories, so women should maintain a diet high in nutrients and low in empty calories to safely lose weight while breastfeeding.

While it may seem confusing, the best way to maintain a healthy weight during your pregnancy is to start off with a normal BMI, and maintain a diet that is high in nutrients without “dieting.” Your body weight may fluctuate during your gestation and soon after, but staying true to your healthy eating habits will ensure a natural fluctuation and a return to your normal weight a little while after birth.

Source: H Riley: Weight Management Before, During and After Pregnancy – What are the Rules?. Nutrition Bulletin Volume 36 Issue 2 pp. 212-215 May 2011