As the euphoric moments that directly follow finding out that you are with child begin to fade, that gorgeous glow can morph into anxiety. Those antagonizing thoughts have haunted almost every woman who has learned she has a baby. You know what they sound like, “What’s going to happen to my body?” Horrific flashes of stretch marks and expanding waistlines dance around in her head. For some, they’re a small price to pay in order to experience the gift that is motherhood. For others, it’s their worst nightmare.
With each week, the scale continues to tip to numbers you’d never imagine. Having heard their fair share of horror stories, some women decide it’d be best to intervene- to put themselves on some form of actual diet or restriction to manage their weight. Yes, this actually happens…although most would never discuss it. Please understand, this is never a good thing.
Pregnancy= Pounds. There’s no way around it. Exactly how many pregnancy pounds are healthy varies from woman to woman. Creating a human is hard work. Your body needs a healthy amount of additional calories, vitamins, and nutrients to make sure you and your little one stays safe for the next 40 weeks. Pregnancy is one of the rare occasions in life when a woman should be on Cloud 9 all day every day (lol…with in reason…it’s tough sometimes). So set aside your weight worries, and concentrate on being healthy.
Why Is Losing Weight A Bad Thing?
A woman of average build is expected to put on around 25-30 pounds by the end of her pregnancy. If your numbers fall a bit outside of that range, you shouldn’t worry unless your obstetrician or midwife is concerned. Again, the rules aren’t written in stone. Some women have larger babies, others may carry more amniotic fluid, your lifestyle and activities (which are also very important)- all these things are factored in deeming what’s normal for you.
During the first trimester, over 80% of women experience some form of morning sickness. Nausea, vomiting, and food avoidance are usually the cause of weight loss during those first 12 weeks. Around the 14th week of gestation, Mother Nature should be giving you a break.
However, that is not always the case. Some may continue to lose weight. If it’s happening naturally, doctors don’t get alarmed until 10% of the pre-pregnancy weight has been lost. If you started out 140lbs and reach 126 or less, your doctors going to start prescribing methods of intervention. Options may include medication to subside nausea or an appointment with a nutritionist to formulate a meal plan that will benefit both mom and baby.
Let me also say that pregnancy should never be an excuse to eat a ton of unhealthy food just because you have a craving. It’s not an excuse to gain 40+ pounds and blame it on the baby. You don’t want to make bad food choices during pregnancy that will affect how you feel and your ability to move around when it’s time to play with and raise that child. You are not just feeding yourself now, you are eating for two. Give your baby the most healthy foods possible.
But A Little Diet Won’t Hurt Right?
Wrong! Skipping meals or limiting yourself isn’t just affecting you, it can also harm the one in the oven. Not only do you need the energy to create, your baby needs the power to be created! Organs, bones, and blood vessels are forming with the strength that will support your baby once they’ve exited the womb.
Humans aren’t alone. Plenty of other species gain weight during their pregnancy. The only difference is, they don’t have mirrors to stare in all day. Walruses and whales aren’t worrying about their image, having a healthy baby is the primary objective.
Rather than dieting, try making healthy decisions from the very beginning. Instead of indulging in fatty, salty, sugary treats, find some healthy options. Fruits and veggies can be just as satisfying- and your baby will appreciate them as well. The main reason women go for the drive thru or the candy bar instead of the salad bar is convenience and habit. Knowing this, you can take a few moments to plan ahead and buy healthy foods so that you have them on hand at home and on the go. Wash your fruits before you put them away or create small salads and seal them in stay-fresh containers. When an attack of the late night munchies strikes again, you’ll be armed and ready.
Pregnancy and Obesity
Obese women are held to slightly different standards when it comes pregnancy and weight gain. Statistics show that 15-25 lbs of pregnancy weight gain is the average target. However, obesity can pose a few risks on the fetus’ development. The additional weight increases the chances of the baby being born with neural tube defects, congenital heart defects, and other complications. On occasion, obese women don’t lose their baby weight after delivery. This can cause also add to health issues they had prior to getting pregnant.
Obesity also increases the woman’s risk of developing gestational diabetes. Gestational diabetes is a form that develops when a woman who did not previously have diabetes gets pregnant. Most often, the diabetes alleviates after she gives birth, but her chances of developing diabetes later on in life is much higher.
Women with gestational diabetes may be put on restricted diets to regulate their body’s insulin levels. It can significantly complicate pregnancy, creating large babies and commonly require labor to be induced before the baby reaches full-term.
So What Can I Do?
Aside from choosing a healthy diet, the best way to control pregnancy weight gain is to get up and get active. All of the normal benefits of exercise are multiplied while expecting. Not only will you be more relaxed, you’ll be strengthening your body to build up the stamina to get through your delivery. Women who exercise during pregnancy are more likely to get down to their pre-pregnancy weight- and they do it a lot faster. Talk to your doctor before beginning ANY exercise regime while pregnant. Your doctor needs to know about any strenuous exercise or activity you are doing.
Don’t go overboard, however. Waiting until your pregnant isn’t the time to begin training for a marathon. If you were considerably active before getting pregnant, doctors will usually give you the green light to safely continue your former regimen. If not, it’s better to wait until after the baby is born. Exercises like yoga, moderate walks, water aerobics and other supervised forms of cardio are all excellent examples of way to stay in shape. There are also a lot of pregnancy focused workout DVDs for safe exercises.
From beginning to end, the primary focus of an expecting woman is to be healthy. Having a healthy baby in your arms will make all your decisions worthwhile. Getting active before you get pregnant gives women an added edge. If not, make the decision for you and your baby to get started. Don’t put it off any longer. As each day goes by, finding the motivation to begin will become even harder. Do an online search to find some “fit mommy” groups in your area. You’ll be able to bond with women who understand everything you’re going through- because they’re going through it too! You never know, you may find some new lifelong friendships- you’ll be grateful for those play dates when the baby gets here.