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Weight loss during pregnancy: causes and risks

Weight loss during pregnancy


Weight is one important indicator you need to constantly monitor during pregnancy. Weight loss during pregnancy is considered normal only in the early stages due to toxicosis. If the pregnant mother continues to lose pounds after the first trimester, this can signal a variety of pathologies: from serious illness to emotional exhaustion.

In any case, even a slight weight loss should be a reason to see a doctor. This trend suggests that the baby is experiencing an acute shortage of nutrients and compensates for them from the mother’s reserves. This will affect not only the well-being and appearance of a woman but can also lead to a delay in the development of the fetus.

Only a doctor can understand the causes of weight loss. You should not engage in self-medication and uncontrolled intake of vitamins – this can only harm mom and baby. How should a woman’s weight change during pregnancy, and when should you seek help immediately?

Weight loss during pregnancy: normal

The expectant mother begins gaining weight from the first weeks of pregnancy. The increase is least noticeable in the first trimester – the fetus is just beginning to develop and weighs very little. And toxicosis in the early stages does not allow much to recover.

Starting from the second trimester, the daily weight gain is already 300-500 g. In total, a woman gains an average of 12-16 kg during pregnancy. This figure consists of several indicators:

  • The weight of the baby.
  • Fat deposits are necessary for normal gestation and maintenance of the mother’s body.
  • Enlarged uterus.
  • Extra blood and interstitial fluid.
  • The glandular tissue of the mammary glands.

The overall weight gain also depends on the woman’s physique before pregnancy. The thinner the expectant mother was, the more kilograms she will add.

Why is weight loss during pregnancy dangerous?

Losing weight during pregnancy is dangerous for both mother and baby. It could cause various pathologies and complications, especially if the expectant mother lacks body weight even before pregnancy.

  1. Strong thinness and a slow set of kilograms can cause severe toxicosis. And at a later date, even cause a miscarriage or premature birth.
  2. Almost all pregnant women with low body weight experience iron deficiency anemia – an acute lack of iron. It aggravates the course of pregnancy and negatively affects the health of both mother and baby.
  3. The lack of nutrients also affects the state of the placenta – the baby does not receive enough oxygen and the trace elements it needs. As a result, this can lead to a delay in the growth and development of the fetus.
  4. According to statistics, the greater the mother’s body weight deficit, the higher the likelihood the child will have impaired blood circulation in the brain area.
  5. Insufficient weight gain can provoke the appearance of edema, increased blood pressure, and disorders in the kidneys and thyroid gland functioning.
  6. Poor nutrition and slow weight gain can cause low birth weight in babies.
  7. Childbirth in mothers with poor weight gain is usually more difficult, with rare and weak contractions. All this can cause injury to the mother or baby.

To reduce the risk of possible complications, it is important to know what affects weight gain in each pregnancy period and take action in time if the first alarming symptoms appear.

Causes of weight loss during pregnancy

Causes of weight loss during pregnancy
Causes of weight loss during pregnancy

If the weight is slightly reduced in the early stages of pregnancy, and there are no other alarming symptoms, there is likely no cause for concern. But it’s still worth knowing about the possible causes of weight loss, which may differ depending on the trimester.

Weight loss in the 1st trimester

The main reason for losing weight during this period is toxicosis. Most often, expectant mothers experience toxicosis up to 12, maximum, 14 weeks of pregnancy. During this time, the expectant mother can lose up to 4 kg.

The following symptoms should be the reason for going to the doctor:

  • Weight continues to decrease rapidly.
  • Attacks of vomiting occur 3-4 times a day.
  • General health deteriorates.

Even one of these signs is a reason for immediate medical attention. In a particularly severe case, the doctor may decide to hospitalize to prevent dehydration and further deterioration of well-being.

Weight loss in the 2nd trimester

By the middle of the second trimester, the outlines of the tummy are already appearing. The fetus grows quickly, and there should be no reason for weight loss. If the body weight of the expectant mother decreases, it is important to find out why this is happening. There may be several reasons:

  • Prolonged toxicosis.
  • Stress and fatigue.
  • Great physical activity.
  • Unbalanced nutrition and diets.

Sometimes mom, afraid of getting too fat, begin to limit herself in food. But doing this without the advice of a doctor is extremely dangerous. Without getting enough nutrients from food, the body will not be able to ensure the full development of the fetus.

Weight loss in the 3rd trimester

Weight loss in the third trimester can be the norm only in one case – before childbirth. The body is cleared of excess fluid and toxins to facilitate the passage of the child through the birth canal. During this period (from about 38-39 weeks), a woman may feel a frequent urge to go to the toilet and lose up to 3 kg of weight.

Another possible reason for losing weight during this period is an enlarging uterus. It compresses the internal organs, including the stomach. This causes heartburn, poor health and loss of appetite.

If weight loss occurs at the beginning or middle of the third trimester, this must be reported to the doctor. He will prescribe the necessary examinations to find and eliminate the cause of weight loss.

Other reasons

Regardless of the gestational age, weight loss can be caused by the following:

  1. Viral or bacterial diseases. Usually, they are accompanied by inflammation and occur against the background of reduced immunity. After treatment, the weight of the expectant mother returns to normal.
  2. High levels of progesterone in the blood. This steroid hormone regulates the menstrual cycle and helps maintain a normal pregnancy after conception. Its excess can lead to disturbances in the digestive tract. Because of this, the expectant mother may lose her appetite.
  3. Smoking and drinking alcohol. Bad habits not only negatively affect the baby’s health but can also provoke the loss of kilograms during pregnancy.

Whatever caused the lack of weight in the expectant mother, at the first appearance of it, you need to contact your doctor.

Weight Loss During Pregnancy: Diagnosis

Weight loss while waiting for a baby can be caused by various diseases: from diabetes to gastritis. To confirm or refute the alleged diagnosis, the doctor may prescribe a comprehensive examination:

  • Ultrasound of internal organs.
  • Blood and urine tests.
  • Hormonal background check.
  • Gynecological examination.

It is very important to monitor the condition of the fetus and placenta during this period. To do this, a woman should regularly do dolorimetry. This study helps to assess the intensity and speed of blood flow in the vessels of the uterus, fetus, umbilical cord and placenta.

How to gain weight during pregnancy

If, after the examination, the doctor finds out that weight loss is associated with a disease or other pathology in the body (for example, diabetes or oligohydramnios), he will prescribe a course of therapy to help minimize the risk of possible complications.

In other cases, the doctor will give recommendations depending on the cause of weight loss.

With toxicosis

The main symptoms of toxicosis are nausea, loss of appetite and dizziness. To eliminate them, you need to make changes in your diet and lifestyle:

  • Refuse fried and fatty foods.
  • Avoid harsh odors.
  • Take special vitamins for pregnant women, but only as directed by a doctor.

Severe toxicosis can be a reason for hospitalization. Because of it, the expectant mother loses important nutrients necessary for the baby’s normal development.

With improper nutrition

Strict or unbalanced diets also lead to a deficiency of vitamins and minerals. Their lack can affect not only the well-being of the mother but also the mental and physical development of the fetus. Therefore, it is so important to follow the basic principles of a healthy diet during pregnancy:

  1. The basis of the menu should be healthy and high-quality products: meat, fish, vegetables, fruits, eggs, dairy products, nuts and cereals.
  2. You need to eat regularly, but little by little – 4-5 times a day for 200-300 grams.
  3. It is important to observe the drinking regime. It is better to prefer pure water, fruit drinks and herbal teas.
  4. It is advisable to limit the amount of sweet, starchy and salty.

Vegetarian moms need to watch their diet. Legumes, nuts and special vitamin supplements will help them provide the body with protein.

Important: Before taking any medication, be sure to consult your doctor! Otherwise, there is a risk of harm not only to yourself but also to the baby.

Under stress

Fatigue, lack of sleep and lack of proper rest can also negatively affect appetite and weight. In this case, you need the following:

  • Sleep at least 8-10 hours a day.
  • Avoid strong feelings.
  • Reduce stress at work and home.
  • Spend more time outdoors.

The doctor may prescribe an additional intake of sedatives for serious emotional disorders.

Weight loss during pregnancy is not always caused by pathology. But it cannot be ignored. Even if the expectant mother is no longer worried about losing weight, you must inform your doctor. This will help prevent the risk of fetal abnormalities and complications during pregnancy.