One question that often comes up during pregnancy is whether or not you lose weight before labor. Many women are concerned about how much weight they will have to lose after giving birth, and some wonder if there is any way to avoid putting on too many pounds during pregnancy.
While it is true that many women do lose a few pounds in the weeks leading up to labor, it is important to remember that every woman is different. So don’t worry if you don’t experience any weight loss – it doesn’t mean that you’re going to have a difficult labor. Just focus on eating healthy and staying active, and let your body take care of the rest!
Before we begin — hello! I’m Hilary — many people know me as The Pregnancy Nurse 👩⚕️. I have been a nurse since 1997 and I have 20 years of OB nursing experience, I am also the curly head behind this website Pulling Curls and The Online Prenatal Class for Couples. 🩺 I have seen thousands of women in labor and the days leading up to it, so I am a good resource for this information.
What are the rumors about weight loss and labor?
I can’t confirm with any studies, but I do believe the consensus is that many women lose a few pounds before labor begins.
Before we talk more about it grab my hospital packing list:
Why would you lose weight before labor?
The idea is a few different things:
Less Amniotic Fluid
There is less amniotic fluid. In the few weeks before labor, the baby doesn’t output as much urine (read more about that here), and the baby also swallows more amniotic fluid than previously, so there is less due to that as well (more about that here).
This is part of why weighing in during each pregnancy visit is important especially towards the end of pregnancy.
If we find that you’ve gained a lot of weight week to week, we might think that you’re retaining fluids, and may probe more to see if preeclampsia is an issue.
If you’ve lost a lot of weight, we might want to check your amniotic fluid levels to make sure that they are safe. Breaking your water is more confusing than it sounds and some women have a slow leak without knowing it — and that could put their baby (and them) in danger.
I go into a TON of information on third trimester testing in my free beginning prenatal class.
Many women start to move more towards the end of their pregnancy. This can be for several reasons:
Nesting: You might have projects around the house that you want to get done before baby comes.
Less Risk: You may have been laying low to prevent preterm labor prior to 37 weeks, but now that baby is ready you are moving more and doing more things.
Working Out the Baby: Many people will walk more, lunge more, workout more in hopes it will help the baby to come.
All of this extra movement can help you lose weight as well.
Of course, these couple of pounds could also be from water retention, drinking less, or just the salty enchiladas you had before the previous weigh in.
Either way, this weight loss isn’t huge — it’s just a few pounds and your healthcare provider will monitor it and see if there are any other issues that are arising.
Does losing weight before labor help or hinder the process?
Well, if it’s due to decreased amniotic fluid that can get to a level that is too low for baby to remain inside safely.
If it’s due to increased movement that can often help prepare your body for the labor process. You’re about to do a big thing in pushing a baby out — so a bit of “training” in advance can help out.
There is no scientific evidence to suggest that losing weight before labor helps or hinders the process in any way. So, if you are concerned about your weight, focus on eating healthy and staying active. Trust your body to do what it needs to do, and don’t worry about the numbers on the scale!
How can you safely lose weight before labor begins?
If you are concerned about your weight and want to try to lose a few pounds before labor begins, there are a few things you can do.
First, focus on eating healthy foods. This means plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains — balancing carbs and proteins.
Second, make sure you are getting plenty of exercise. This can be anything from walking to swimming to taking a prenatal yoga class.
Third, try to reduce your stress levels. Stress can lead to weight gain, so find ways to relax and de-stress. This might include activities like meditation, journaling, or spending time with friends and family. Do the things you love to do, that’s important too.
Should You Be Looking to Lose Weight Before Delivery?
I think you should make an attempt to be as healthy as possible in those few weeks before delivery.
Your body is about to go through a major event, and the kinder you can be to it the better off you will be.
That would be:
- Whatever moderate exercise looks like for you
- Eating the rainbow (lots of different colors of foods, and I’m not talking cheetos)
- Balancing carbohydrates and proteins in your meal
- Making sure you’re not over-eating (you’ll feel more miserable than usual)
- Drinking a TON of water. Just as much as you humanly can — preferably before bed so you’re not peeing all night.
- Trying to get as much sleep as you can, including naps if possible
I think trying to focus on losing weight during that point in time isn’t a great choice.
But, focusing on being as kind to your body (and I’m not talking about giving into cravings) as possible will serve you well as you finish your home stretch of pregnancy.
The other thing you need to focus on is feeling confident in the labor room.
Did you know that people who take a good quality prenatal class are 10% less likely to have a cesarean section? The combination of understanding movement, what will go on, and how to talk to your providers is a dynamite team to help you have the birth you’re hoping for.
Come join me in The Online Prenatal Class for Couples. In just a few hours we can prepare you for the confident, collaborative hospital birth you want.
And, if you’re not quite sure you’re ready for that whole thing, check out my free prenatal class. It’s your first step toward becoming your own birth boss.
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A nurse since 1997, she has worked in various fields including pediatrics, geriatrics & hospice.
She has 20 years of labor and delivery experience in the San Jose, CA and Phoenix, AZ areas.