Managing Your Weight Prior to Conception

No one should immediately assume that being overweight is responsible for an inability to conceive-it is believed that excess weight is a problem in infertility perhaps only about 10 percent of the time. Ideally, you will be near your ideal weight around three months prior to attempting to get pregnant, however we do not live in an ideal world. Keep in mind that it can be difficult for your body to get all the necessary nutrients it needs in order to promote a successful pregnancy if you are on a very strict diet. If you are overweight and want to have a baby, work with your doctor to devise a safe and healthy manner to eat nutritional foods yet still lose weight, and to get regular exercise which can help prepare your body for the stresses involved with pregnancy and childbirth.

How Does Excess Weight Interfere With Conception?

If your weight truly is the cause of your infertility, then it is likely due to excessive estrogen in your body along with polycystic ovaries. Fat cells produce more estrogen, and when your body receives too much estrogen it reacts in the same way it does to hormonal birth control methods. You may experience no ovulation at all, or it may be ovulation which is not adequate to promote conception. PCOS is an endocrine disorder which can cause irregular menstrual cycles, excessively heavy periods, ovarian cysts and pain, excess body hair and acne.

Studies published in various medical journals have shown that both very lean women as well as women with a BMI above 38 have lower conception rates, however how the fat is distributed on your body appears to be even more important. Those women who had a higher waist to hip ratio (apple shaped) experienced more difficulty in becoming pregnant. Doctors are well-aware that the typical apple shaped body is associated with PCOS.

How Excess Weight Affects a Pregnancy

Excess weight can be responsible for gestational diabetes as well as pre-eclampsia, although gestational diabetes is considered to be quite controllable with diet. Pre-eclampsia can be a potentially serious illness which is accompanied by proteins in the urine and higher than normal blood pressure, although, like gestational diabetes, pre-eclampsia is treatable, and is rare in women who receive good prenatal care. Extra pounds along with PCOS can increase a woman's chance of miscarriage, as the hormonal imbalances may create a more hostile environment for a developing fetus. Babies born to extremely overweight mothers may be at a higher risk of premature birth, and for being overweight in their own childhood.

How Much Weight Should You Lose Prior to Getting Pregnant?

Of course the amount of weight you should attempt to lose prior to conception depends on your current weight and should be judged by your BMI rather than actual weight. Your BMI is the actual amount of fat your body carries and can be calculated very simply. Just take your weight in pounds and divide it by your height in inches squared, then times the result by 703. In other words if you are a woman who is 5'8" tall, and you weigh 220 pounds then you will divide 220 by 68 x 68 (4624) then times that number by 703. In this case you get 33.447, meaning your body mass index is 33.44. Generally speaking a "healthy" BMI for an adult female is between 19 and 26. A good starting point is to take your current weight and figure 10 percent of it (220 pounds x 10% = 22 pounds) Subtract 22 pounds from 220 and you come up with 198, which is a really healthy first goal to shoot for. The BMI in this case drops from 33.44 to 30.10-three full points with a weight loss of only 22 pounds. From this point, set another similar goal and soon you will be at a healthy weight for conception. Remember, though, if you are unable to reach your ideal healthy BMI prior to becoming pregnant, do not continue to diet during your pregnancy. Work with your doctor to set a healthy weight goal during your pregnancy, and once your healthy baby arrives you can continue your weight loss goals.

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