Weight Gain and Pregnancy

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Such a sensitive topic, and rightfully so.

Here is a scenario I heard way too often: You go to the doctor, you step on the scale, and then later, the doctor might say something about your weight gain. “Susan, at 16 weeks,  according to your current weight, you should only really gain 10 pounds more this pregnancy. Are you watching what you are eating?” UGH the annoyingness! But worse is THE ANXIETY that comes with the appointment and weighing yourself on that stupid little machine.

There is so much stigma and plain BULL SH*T behind how much weight should be gained during pregnancy.

My first pregnancy, I was obsessive about my weight. I was always checking the scale, sometimes multiple times per day  to see if I was gaining enough or gaining too much. It makes me said to think I could have been focusing on appreciating and loving my pregnant body, rather than stressing about weight gain.

According to multiple different websites and the the American Pregnancy Association, the magical number to gain during your pregnancy if you’re of “normal weight” is 25-35 pounds.  But, you should gain less if you are “overweight” or more if you are “underweight.” So...my questions is who decides what is a “normal” weight gain? Well, we have the handy, dandy BNI scale to thank for this. Thank GOODNESS the BMI sale is total bull shit! “The Body Mass Index, much like counting calories, waist training and diet pills, has long been a highly contested fad in diet culture. Now it seems the science community has officially scrapped it as a method of measuring health, after new research found that almost half of people diagnosed as obese using BMI measurements are actually healthy.” Read more here about why the BMI scale is BS.

So, How much weight you “should” or “shouldn’t” be gaining according to different websites should be a GUIDELINE. Not the bible. Your body KNOWS how much weight it should put on. Trust it and trust yourself. If all the sudden you feel crazy bloated and huge, there could be something else going on, so trust yourself to get checked out. Or, if you’re throwing up every 5 minutes and you’re not getting ENOUGH, see your doc, but let go of that stress too. Your body will give your baby what is needs!  

So, what do you do if you are stressing about weight gain during pregnancy?

  1. Nothing.

  2. It doesn’t matter.

  3. Have a nice lunch.

  4. Go outside and look at a tree.

  5. Throw your panic and stress in the trash.

Okay, okay. But what about Gestational Diabetes?  Actually, weight gain isn't the ONLY deciding factor for gestational diabetes.  Read more here.

Here are a few more things to think about when it comes to weight gain and pregnancy:

If you feel uncomfortable being weighed, or if it is seriously going to make or break your day. STOP WEIGHING YOURSELF. When you go to the doctor, ask to not be weighed, or asked not to be told what your weight is, unless it has to do with the health of you or the baby during pregnancy.  The scale is a tool used to measure your gravitational pull against earth. THAT’S IT. If knowing your weight is going to put you into a stress frenzy and a place of self-judgement, then STOP. You don’t need to add more stress on your body and baby because of some stupid number on a machine.

You are your own best nutritionist. YOU typically know what is best for your body right now. What you’re craving and wanting can change day to day. Pregnancy is TOUGH like that. For one week straight all I ate was Poptarts and almonds. I haven’t touched poptarts since!? Why? I don’t know, and I don’t really care. Nor should you. Trust your body and your cravings right now. Your gut brain is smarter than you think. With that being said, just because you're pregnant, also doesn’t mean you go nutso and eat twelve cupcakes per day. Or, I’m pregnant and have to fuel my body with ONLY ORGANIC KALE AND BANANAS. This all or nothing  mentality isn’t healthy either. Practice intuitive eating during this time. Learn more about intuitive eating here.

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Here is a simple breakdown of where most of the weight goes during pregnancy:

  • Baby - most babies pack on roughly 6-9 pounds (though some will weigh as much as 10 or more!).

  • Placenta - the placenta generally weighs in at 1-2 pounds.

  • Amniotic fluid - the amniotic fluid generally comprises 1-2 pounds of extra weight.

  • Uterus - the uterus grows and expands to roughly 2 pounds.

  • Breast tissue - most women's breasts add 1-2 pounds of weight during pregnancy.

  • Blood volume - a woman's blood volume adds an additional 2 pounds of weight gain during pregnancy.

  • Fluid - Women's bodies generally retain as much as 4-5 pounds of fluid during pregnancy.

  • Maternal fat stores - your body stores roughly 7 pounds of added fat to help nourish your baby and provide you the energy necessary to breastfeed after pregnancy.

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Finally, think about WHY you are afraid of gaining weight. Journal about what fears underlie the weight gain.  Do you think you're not going to be a good mom because of it? Or maybe the thought of, “What will happen to me as a mother if I do gain too much or too little weight?”

Body image during pregnancy can definitely be challenging.  AND, It's not all in your head. There are tons of hormones going through your body.  There are different reactions to these hormones. You can have a negative body image days, and that is totally normal. It's all about how you choose to listen to the thoughts and what you make them mean.

To recap, just like when you aren't pregnant, how you think and deal with food can cause stress.  If you have stress or anxiety about gaining weight, the stress and anxiety will cause you to hold on to that weight anyway!  Lay off the guilt!

-On the scale: throw it away!!  Whether your pregnant or not, is it going to determine how you feel for the day?  Yes? Then what is the point? You are probably not a place right now to use the scale in a healthy way. Give it a break for awhile.

-At the doctors, just ask to not know!  Everyone’s bodies are different! Some may gain 15, 20-30 or even 50 lbs!!

-Focus on getting good quality foods, and HOW you’re eating instead of what you’re eating. Slow down, relax, and enjoy your food.  If you're craving the Doritos, eat some, but GUILT-FREE!

-Connect with other women!  Join my pregnancy Support Group on Facebook.

-Get counselling!  Especially if you're having a hard time.  There is no shame in getting help.

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