Feed the Belly: Pregnancy Weight Gain
A few years ago, before there was a pregnancy Buzzfeed and Instagram accounts chronicling every day in the 40 weeks leading up to birth, there were pregnancy books, lots and lots of them. And when I found out that I was pregnant, I traded in my angsty novels for the Gen X version of What To Expect When You're Expecting. I considered myself a fairly in-the-know mom-to-be. I knew from my friends and sisters that some women seem to gain just a dozen pounds when pregnant while others gain forty and that no two women were alike. I talked with my amazing OB and her nurses about what was right for me. And I vowed in those early first days with my own burgeoning baby bump and designer maternity jeans to try to stay on course so we'd both be healthy and happy, and I wouldn't worry about losing the weight after the baby was born.
But I couldn't help it, my baby was hungry. He craved avocados and blueberries, good brain food I reasoned. He (we) also craved dairy – in the form of queso and ice cream and cheese sticks – and pancakes and red meat. So I gave in. One of my favorite parts about being pregnant was the feeling, however incorrect it may have been, that I could eat anything (except sushi and soft cheese, of course) I wanted with no regret. I stopped checking the scale after about week 14 and prepared to be gently admonished at my OB's office during weigh-ins. By the time I entered Medical City Dallas Hospital on my due date and stepped on the scale like a prizefighter before the big match, I was nearing heavyweight status, more than 60 pounds from where I started. When Jack finally arrived, a healthy, plump and perfectly shaped 9 pounds, 9 ounces, he was the most precious thing I'd ever seen and worth every ounce and inch I had to take off over the next 18 months. To this day, to my delight, two of Jack's absolute favorite foods are blueberries and avocados. I'd like to think I had a little to do with that.
If you're pregnant and wondering how much weight to gain, the best thing to do is talk with your doctor who can share healthy parameters. For those of you more interested in staying on track and not following the "eating for two" fallacy, we've gathered some common pregnancy weight-gain myths.
Pregnancy Weight Gain Myths
Myth: You will gain a similar amount of weight as other women in your family.
I wish. There's a photo of my mother, weeks away from giving birth to me, svelte in a bikini, looking like a Polaroid-era baby blogger. One pregnancy will differ from the next. Even your own. The amount of weight you gain in your first pregnancy could be very different during your second pregnancy. Your doctor will let you know your healthy range.
Myth: You should to double your food consumption because you're eating for two.
While pregnancy weight gain is expected, packing on too many pounds is not healthy for you or your baby. It's important to focus on good nutrition during your pregnancy. Around 300 calories in the form of a few extra snacks a day packed with protein and fruits and veggies should cover it. Back away from the chips and queso and candy bars!
Myth: You can gain as much weight as you want because you're pregnant.
Nope, not a good idea, and not just because you'll likely want to lose the weight after your baby arrives. Gaining too much weight can put stress on the baby. Excess weight can also increase your chance of needing a C-section and can lead to high birth weights and other complications.
Myth: You don't have to lose pregnancy weight if you plan on having another baby.
Losing your pregnancy weight puts your body back into optimal shape. If you're planning for another baby, the goal is to be in the best health possible to carry another child.
Myth: If you breastfeed, you'll lose all of your pregnancy weight.
Breastfeeding definitely can help in postpartum weight loss and can burn 500 calories. While breastfeeding, you'll likely be eating a bit more to keep your energy up and you'll also likely be less active right after giving birth. Always check in with your doctor about what level of activity is right for you.
I loved my OB and felt comfortable asking her and her staff all sorts of questions during my pregnancy and after my son was born. Need help finding the right doctor for you?
Laura DeSmeth is a digital marketing and social media director focused on health care, wife, mother, reader, writer, indie film and media fan – not necessarily in that order depending on the day of the week.
Sources (beyond personal experience and observations):