Obese women can get fit during early pregnancy

There are many simple things that you can do to ensure that you'll have a healthy pregnancy. For example, you can avoid smoking and drinking alcohol for three months prior to trying to conceive and visit your doctor and dentist to take care of any underlying medical or dental problems you may have. However, there are some things that you should do before getting pregnant that may not be so easy - such as losing weight. 

It's no secret that obese women face a number of challenges to their pregnancy, such as gestational diabetes and urinary tract infections, according to the Mayo Clinic. However, shedding pounds before getting pregnant is easier said than done, since losing weight is never easy, particularly when you're planning for a family. Luckily, a recent study has shown that if you're obese and pregnant, there are steps you can take to help keep yourself and your baby healthy. 

It's not too late
According to research presented at the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine's annual meeting, if obese women engage in regular exercise and adopt healthier habits during the first trimester of their pregnancy, they may be able to avoid the type of excessive weight gain many obese women experience while expecting a child. 

Furthermore, these healthy lifestyle changes may also help keep obese women from developing hypertension and gestational diabetes, and put them on the path toward being fit following their pregnancy. 

The scientists added that these findings should encourage physicians to counsel obese pregnant women on how much weight they should gain during the time that they are expecting. In the past, studies have shown that physicians may not always give obese women the best advice when it comes to what their weight goals should be during pregnancy. For example, a December 2012 study published by Penn State College of Medicine researchers showed that doctors tend to either tell obese and overweight women to gain too much weight while carrying their baby or give unspecific advice that may leave them confused. 

Positive results
In the recent study, researchers from the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia's mother-infant department examined obese women during pregnancy. Half of them were put on a calorie-controlled diet, paired with 30 minutes of exercise three days a week, while the other group only received counseling from their doctors. 

The scientists found that the women who stuck with the diet and exercise programs experienced many health benefits. First, more than 77 percent were able to stay within the allotted weight gain limit, compare to 30 percent from the control group. Furthermore, these women had significantly lower rates of hypertension, preterm delivery and gestational diabetes than the women who did not diet. 

The researchers discovered that while 57 percent of the women in the control group developed gestational diabetes, only 21 percent of those in the treatment group did. 

"This is important because [the glucose test] was done at 16-18 weeks and, even if negative, repeated at 24 weeks. In other words, if the first evaluation occurred just 12 weeks after the treatment began, the small amount of time was enough to correct the body's level of glucose," said researcher Fabio Facchinetti, M.D., in a statement. 

So if you're obese and pregnant, don't think this means you have to wait till after you have your baby to get healthy. Talk to your doctor about ways to eat right and exercise while pregnant. 

Did you exercise during pregnancy? Do you have any advice for overweight women who want to stay fit during pregnancy? Respond here!