We are dedicated to educating you about healthy living and nutrition throughout all stages of life. Having a baby is high on many women's wish list as well as losing weight related to pregnancy. There are many different views of nutrition and weight loss around conception, pregnancy and post-baby weight loss. To shed light onto some misconceptions we pulled together some of our health professionals' expertise to give you an initial snap shot around some of the most discussed topics.
Below we have compiled some basic facts for the three main stages - pre conception, during pregnancy and post-baby/breastfeeding.
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The ideal would be for you to aim to be within the healthy weight range several months before you start to try to become pregnant, although fertility may improve with weight loss of 5-10 %. Your ideal weight may be influenced by other health issues such as diabetes, hypertension etc.
The Jenny Craig Menus will, on average meet the nutritional requirements of the general population. The menus are developed by Accredited Practising Dietitians to reflect current nutrition recommendations outlined in the Dietary Guidelines formulated by the National Health & Medical Research Council (NHMRC).
When trying to conceive, certain nutrients are needed in higher amounts. You should eat the same foods recommended for any healthy diet, with special care for the following nutrients:
- Most women will need to take a folate supplement for at least two months before trying to become pregnant and for the first three months of pregnancy. It is difficult to achieve the recommended intake to reduce the risk of neural tube defect with normal foods.
- Many women have low vitamin D levels and may require either additional safe sun exposure or a vitamin D supplement
- Some areas of Australia are deficient in iodine and so dietary intake may be insufficient to support healthy brain development in the baby during pregnancy
- Calcium requirements are not increased in pregnancy but remember you need to be having 1000 mg of calcium per day. This can be provided by three serves of dairy or calcium supplemented soy foods each day such as milk, cheese or yoghurt. You will need to take a supplement if you do not usually consume dairy or calcium supplemented non-dairy milks, yoghurts and cheeses.
Your doctor may recommend especially formulated vitamin and mineral supplement to be taken in conjunction with following the Jenny Craig Menus.
- During Pregnancy
Weight loss is safer before pregnancy or after pregnancy. It is probably safer to simply minimise weight gain during pregnancy. It may be difficult for you to meet all of your nutrition requirements during pregnancy if you do not consume at least 8,000 kJ per day.
Do not fall into the trap of "eating for two". Many women find if difficult to lose weight in excess of the recommended levels after pregnancy. Health authority recommendations suggest normal weight gain 11.5 - 16 kilos during pregnancy, overweight women 7 - 11.5 kilos and obese women 5 - 9 kilos. If you were under-weight before you became pregnant you may gain a little more than 13 kilos. If you were overweight then you may want to aim for the lower end of 10 kilos. If obese you should aim to limit your gain to 7 kilos.
Some doctors may encourage some obese patients to strictly limit weight gain during pregnancy, but weight loss during pregnancy needs to be discussed with your doctor/midwife and should only be attempted if recommended by your health professional.
The aim for healthy eating during pregnancy is to make sure most of your food is nutrient-dense and to limit high-energy snack foods and take-aways.
Most women do not need extra energy during the first trimester. The additional requirement for second trimester is approximately 1,400 kJ and third trimester about 1,900kJ. If you usually eat about 7,000kJ per day for weight maintenance then you will need about 20% more per day during the second trimester and 25% more during your third trimester.
This means that you need to eat approximately an extra snack per day in the second trimester and two extra snacks in your third trimester.
Many women find that small, frequent meals suit them better during pregnancy and so if you usually ate three meals and one snack per day you may chose to eat three smaller meals and two-three snacks. A snack of a salad and cheese, wholegrain bread sandwich, with a small glass of juice would be about 1,400 kJ, add a skinny latte would make it up to 1,900kJ.
One way to minimise weight gain is to keep exercising throughout your pregnancy, particularly your first two trimesters. Seek advice to ensure that there are no medical reasons for you to limit your activity but walking and swimming and many other activities are safe for most pregnant women.
Discuss this with your health professional but you are encouraged to keep active; keeping up your activity levels helps reduce the risk of extra weight gain. For most women there are very few activities that are discouraged. Exercise during pregnancy is encouraged to maintain general fitness and to decrease the chance or excess weight gain. Appropriate exercise also helps with maintaining strong abdominal muscles, support the back and care for pelvic floor muscles.
For further weight management advice during pregnancy speak to your doctor or a qualified dietitian. Dietitians work in private practice, local community health centres and local hospitals. Details can be found on the Dietitians Association of Australia website (www.daa.asn.au) or the New Zealand Dietitians website (www.dietitians.org.nz).
- Post-Pregnancy and Breastfeeding
Six weeks after the birth of your baby, we welcome you to make an appointment to see one of our Consultants at your nearest Jenny Craig centre. Your Consultant will be able to suggest a plan that fits in with how you are feeding your baby and your new lifestyle. If you wish to start earlier than our recommended six weeks, you will need medical clearance by your doctor.
You can lose weight while you are breast-feeding, but you need to take care that you are having sufficient fluid and nutrients to support feeding your baby. Public health guidelines encourage women to breast feed for at least the first 6 months when solids are introduced and if possible for the first 12 months. How a woman chooses to feed her baby will be influenced by many factors.
If you choose to breastfeed, the amount you ate during the last trimester of pregnancy is enough to meet your nutritional needs and support milk production. Once breastfeeding is well established you may be able to reduce the amount of food you eat by a little to assist with weight loss, as long as you are still consuming adequate nutrients such as calcium and fluid. During breastfeeding Jenny Craig encourages a healthy rate of weight loss of no more than ½ kilo per week.
Weight loss post pregnancy needs to be realistic. Initially there is a greater weight loss obviously due to the weight of the baby plus fluid then after after 6 weeks, the rate of expected should be weight loss is between 1/2 to 1 kilo per week.
see how Jenny has helped others lose their baby weight