Should I Lose Weight Before Getting Pregnant?

healthy weight before pregnancy

This is a great question! Does being overweight affect fertility? Should you lose weight before getting pregnant? While we don’t want to delve deeply into issues here regarding weight stigma, prejudice and body image, weight loss and getting pregnant are very important issues to discuss. It is particularly important for a couple to discuss if they are planning to conceive and have a baby.

The topic of weight loss before pregnancy or being overweight before pregnancy needs to be discussed for proper prenatal care.

There are so many questions that you may have regarding this topic around wether or not you should lose weight before getting pregnant;

  • How does being overweight affect fertility?
  • Is it harder to get pregnant if you are overweight?
  • Does being overweight affect male fertility?
  • What is the ideal weight for getting pregnant?
  • How much weight do I need to lose to get pregnant?
  • What is the ideal weight for fertility and many more?

Let’s try and unpack some of these thoughts. I would like to preface it all however by saying, as we talked about in prenatal nutrition if you are planning a pregnancy this is the perfect time to be trialling and introducing new healthy habits into your daily lives.

should I lose weight before getting pregnant
It is like a doorway into the next stages of your life…

If you are carrying a few extra kilograms or pounds, then by adjusting some small habits, may take care of these kilograms or pounds for yourself. If you do have a lot of weight to lose and are interested in losing weight to conceive then it may be necessary to seek help from a qualified professional or a registered dietitian or an accredited practising dietitian, and your GP.

What about if you are already pregnant? Well, congratulations jump here to learn about pregnancy nutrition.

What is A Healthy Weight Before Pregnancy?

We know that there are many benefits of being in what we call a “healthy weight range” for your height. These health benefits provide long-term and immediate results for your prenatal care, pregnancy care and postpartum.

The healthy weight range can be used in most countries to help determine what is a healthy weight for us to be. It tells you, for your height, approximately what weight range is considered healthy for you.

The table below shows what your weight range is in comparison to your height. Please note that it is a guide only from the NHS – UK. Some countries may use the BMI (body mass index scale) but the BMI is a population tool and should not be used at an individual health level.

Everyone’s healthy ideal weight for conceiving is slightly different and it is important to note that this table does not take into consideration your sex or your age. Have a look at the table below or use this interactive tool to determine your healthy weight range.

Healthy Weight Range Chart
ideal weight for fertility

Why is A Healthy Weight Range Important for Everyone?

The US Department of Health and Human Services state that a healthy weight range is important at any age for these reasons:

  • Important for our overall health
  • Helps prevent lifestyle diseases such as;
    • Heart disease
    • Type 2 diabetes
    • High blood pressure
    • Some cancers
    • and breathing problems
  • Being a healthy weight helps you to feel good about yourself and
  • Also helps you to have more energy to do the things you need to do and love to do

Why is a Healthy Weight for Pre-Pregnancy Important?

There are so many reasons why being a healthy weight before pregnancy is important for your future pregnancy and also for the health of your baby. Some reasons are listed below;

  • Being overweight/obese can reduce fertility and also reduce the chance of having a healthy baby broadly speaking due to;
    • Hormonal imbalances
    • Ovulation issues
    • and menstrual disorders
  • Overweight/obesity can also make assisted reproduction more difficult, ie; it can make IVF treatment difficult for example
  • Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome – (PCOS) can also reduce fertility and it is well known that PCOS is related to obesity issues. PCOS weight loss and fertility are linked.
  • We also know that being overweight affects male fertility. Obesity can lower fertility in men too, not just women. This is due to;
    • Hormone problems
    • Erectile dysfunction 
    • and other health concerns that are linked with carrying too much weight. 
    • Hot tip: We know that weight loss in men can lead to an increase in sperm count. If you have time to plan, losing weight (if needed) is a great objective, as sperm can take 3 months to develop, so reaching a healthier weight 3 months before conception is ideal. 
  • The closer you are to a healthy weight for pre-pregnancy the better chance you have to conceive and also of having a healthy baby. The baby is more likely to be healthier at birth and throughout its life into adulthood.
  • Being overweight and getting pregnant, may lead to some complications for your pregnancy. These can include; high blood pressure, miscarriage, pre-eclampsia, gestational diabetes, caesarean births and stillbirths.

Please remember even a small weight loss before getting pregnant can make a positive impact on fertility and baby health

Catherine

The Factors That Affect a Healthy Weight? 

Many factors affect a healthy weight and interplay with your decision to lose weight before getting pregnant and in the section on prenatal nutrition, you can see specific information for you to follow, but general factors that can play a role in being a healthy weight are;

  • Family history
  • Genetics
  • Our Environment
  • Personal Metabolism
  • Energy balance, which is how much energy (calories/kilojoules) you consume.
    • If the total amount of calories or Kj’s you consume is more than you exert (use up) then you will put on weight over time – but the reverse is true as well. For weight loss, you need to exert (use up) more calories than you eat or drink. Another hot tip: If you are trying to lose weight adjust your calories slightly by approximately 500 calories/2100 Kj per day and see how you go.
  • Activity – try to be active every day and increase your activity if you are able
  • Limit how much time you sit around (either working or playing)
  • Sleep well. Set up some good sleep hygiene habits now (Yes they will be tested when your baby comes along, but you may as well enjoy the many benefits of a goodnight’s sleep now – whilst you can).
  • And our habits ………

A Final Note on Should You Lose Weight Before Getting Pregnant 

If you are thinking of getting pregnant while overweight, or wondering if you should lose weight before getting pregnant, then starting a healthy prenatal nutrition plan and an exercise plan to be the healthiest version of you may improve your chances of becoming pregnant and having a healthy baby. It is not really a matter of should you lose weight before getting pregnant, but what steps can we do today to make out life as healthy as possible for ourselves.

So the take-home message is that what you eat and what you do makes a huge difference to your health and the health of your future children. Take one day at a time and start practising some healthy habits that you can pass on to your children.

weight loss
  • Better Health Victoria – Better Health Channel
  • National Health Service – UK
  • Dietitians of Canada Association
  • Dietitians of Australia
  • CDC- Healthy Weight – Nutrition and Physical Actvity
  • US Department of Health and Human Services