Getting Fit for Pregnancy
Most women are worried about weight gain during pregnancy and getting rid of it after the baby’s birth. Weight gain during pregnancy is unavoidable and a pregnant woman must eat healthy for the baby’s health and for a trouble free delivery. But even before getting pregnant, being healthy and having near ideal body weight is a must too as it promotes chances of a healthy conception and pregnancy and increased fertility.
An ideal body weight indicates overall good health and attractiveness. Excess body weight reduces fertility in both men and women and lowers sexual desires. Overweight women are more prone to diabetes and other heart related diseases which are known to be harmful for developing fetus.
Pregnant women who are obese can suffer from sleep apnea (breathing pauses for more than 10 seconds during sleep, repeatedly throughout the night) which can lead to reduced oxygen in blood at night, which can pose health problems for the fetus. Obesity is also related to many other health problems (diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and hypertension to name a few). Babies born to overweight women are more prone to be born with neural tube defects (NTDs), structural defects and heart defects. At the time of birth, overweight women may have to face induced labor, preterm labor, premature delivery, stillbirth and larger babies.
Therefore, getting to the ideal body weight helps a lot in giving a right start to your planned pregnancy. It is very difficult to either lose or gain weight during pregnancy either by diet (which should be kept ideal for the fetus) or by exercise (pregnant women should not do vigorous workouts and put their pregnancy at risk).
Body Weight management is extremely important as it cuts the risk of many diseases, improves fertility and prevents premature death. An ideal or near ideal body weight is important and essential for a healthy pregnancy.
What should be my Ideal Body Weight
Calculate your ideal weight by taking 45.36 kg for a height of 5ft. Every Inch after that adds 2.27 kg. E.g. if your height is 5ft and 4 inches then your ideal body weight should be = 45.36+4×2.27 which comes out to be 54.44 or around 54 ½ kg. If your height is 5ft 4 and if you are 52 – 58 kg then you have a well maintained body weight.
BMI is a mathematical tool used to compare the body weight with the height and then tell if the person is in the range of normal body weight or not. It is quite easy and convenient to use. Its formula is
BMI = Body Weight (Kg) / Square of Height in meters (meter square)
The range of BMI tells if a person is underweight, normal weight, overweight or obese. It is not completely accurate as the BMI varies demographically around the globe but it still gives a good idea and is popularly used all around the world.
|BMI Range||Person’s Weight|
|18.5 – 24.99||Normal Weight|
|25 – 29.99||Overweight|
|30 – 34.99||Class 1 Obesity|
|35 – 39.99||Class 2 Obesity|
|>40||Class 3 Obesity|
The BMI calculation for kids is different but the one given above is for adults and is same for men and women. Calculate your BMI to see if you are overweight. The page will refresh after pressing the calculate button. You will find the results in the refreshed page.
It is calculated by dividing the waist (just above the belly button) measurement by hip measurement (both with same units, either inches or centimeters). This ratio is directly related to health and fertility in both men and women and is also a means to determine physical attractiveness.
An ideal WHR for women is 0.7 and for men it is 0.9. Women with the ideal WHR are known to be less susceptible to diseases such as ovarian cancers, or those related to obesity such as diabetes and cardiovascular disorders, and have ideal hormone levels and good fertility.
To avoid all these calculations and go by common sense (Someone can say, “Can’t you just figure out by the looks of a person if he/she is healthy? Well yes!)- if one looks perfectly in shape (not too thin or fat), with bright eyes, shining hair (with very less hair fall) and good skin, an active lifestyle, and positive attitude it means the person is healthy.
A visit to a gynecologist will help with more details and a better judgment of a woman’s state of health.
Exercising is the best way to reach and maintain a healthy body weight. If you haven’t started exercising yet, here’s a simple way to begin:
- Start walking: Walking is the best exercise and the easiest one too. You can ask a friend to join you or listen to music while you walk. It would take you some time to adjust the new walking routine in your time, but you would start loving it once it becomes regular. Developing a walking routine would really help as this routine can continue during pregnancy, as walking is the most common and safest exercise during pregnancy.
- Hit the gym: 30 minutes of exercise regularly at a gym can help keep you fit. Do not go for strenuous exercise, but at least some mild sweating should occur after the exercise. Ask your instructor to help you out. Weight training exercises help build muscle mass and tone the body, so don’t miss them.
- Yoga: Increases flexibility of the body and the breathing exercises help improve oxygen levels in the body. A very good way to de-stress as well. Do not begin with yoga without an instructor or an expert to let you know the proper ways of performing the exercises.
Eating high fiber foods, frequent and nutritious small meals and variety of fresh veggies and fruits is all you need. Visit your doctor for some tests to check your overall health (hemoglobin, folate and vitamin levels, thyroid, blood pressure) to check your health status. People who stay indoors most of the time can develop a Vitamin D deficiency. So do get this checked as calcium levels are very important during pregnancy for both the mother and the developing baby. Please visit Diet and Nutrition page to know more.
- Sleep – Your Questions Answered by Renata L. Riha, MD