Pregnancy weight gain is such a touchy subject. As with normal body weight, pregnancy weight gain is entirely individual and will depend on how much you weighed before you got pregnant. If you look it up on the trusty Internet, it recommends gaining an average of 25 to 35 pounds. My midwife recommended that I gain 40 pounds.
I’ve dealt with an eating disorder in the past, and I still have hang-ups about my weight. Thankfully, I’m in a much healthier place now. But for me, pregnancy weight gain was still uncomfortable. It felt weird to be told to gain close to 40 pounds. It felt weird that my body was changing and was no longer my own. I was kind of okay with it because it was the first time in my life that I’d been told to gain weight, but I also looked forward to the day post-baby when I could start losing weight again. Regain my control.
As I became bigger in my pregnancy, reaching the third trimester, I started with the comparisons. If pregnancy was brought up in conversation with friends, the topic of weight would inevitably come up too. Some friends would mention they only gained 20 pounds. I would think to myself, How the FUCK is that possible when I’d already gained 20 pounds by 20 weeks? (A pound a week said my midwife with glee!)
Yes, doctors are supposed to discuss pregnancy weight gain in great detail with you, according to this recent Time piece entitled The Obesity Pregnancy Dilemma:
But there’s a growing body of evidence that’s difficult to ignore. Obesity raises a woman’s risk of gestational diabetes, hypertension, premature delivery, miscarriage, and stillbirth. A mother’s chance of having to undergo a caesarian section is 34% if her BMI is over 30, and 47% if her BMI is over 35—compared to 21% for women with a BMI under 30, according to one study. There’s even evidence that babies born to obese women have a greater chance of suffering neural defects than those whose mothers are normal weight, and will be at greater risk of being obese themselves.
With this kind of risk related to pregnancy and obesity, it’s hard to push pregnancy weight obsessions out of your mind. Suddenly, it’s not just about you and your vanity. According to your doctor, your weight is about you and the health of your BABY.
Pregnancy weight comparisons suck, but it’s almost like scratching a mosquito bite—you just can’t resist. I nearly made myself crazy trying to figure out if my weight gain was normal or above average. I should have just listened to my midwife and steered clear of the peanut gallery. I should have reminded myself that weight gain, even during pregnancy, is individual. What matters is health, exercise, and how you feel about your body. If only it was that simple.
(Image: Lana K/Shutterstock)