Gaining weight is sometimes an uncomfortable thing to talk about, yet it is important for a healthy pregnancy and healthy baby.
Are we really supposed to be eating for two? My friend gained only 15 pounds during her pregnancy and I have gained a little over 35 pounds, does this mean I am an unhealthy slob?? NO!
When I started as a new labor and delivery nurse, I learned the importance of weight gain during pregnancy, the importance of healthy calories, exercise, the increased need for water, the changes that occur in a woman’s body (like the fact that we create up to 3x more blood during pregnancy than we needed before), and that weight and caloric need varies for each person. But, even with learning that, there I was... pregnant and obsessing over the numbers that increased with every OB visit. There I was comparing myself to my friends who were also pregnant… friends who had different body structures and different caloric needs than I had. It’s so easy to compare.
But you can't compare when everyone’s body and everyone’s pregnancy is different.
While I easily gained what I needed to during my pregnancies, there are many women- like many of my patients, who suffer from hyperemesis (commonly known as morning sickness) all throughout their pregnancies and physically cannot gain much weight at all.
A STEADY and healthy weight gain during pregnancy is really important. While you should not obsess about it, or compare yourself to other pregnant women, you should be cognizant of your weight and strive for an active lifestyle. It’s okay to have a cupcake now and then, but maybe pass on the extra double-double with a milkshake. We don’t need to eat for two, we need to eat for one, and we should add 30 minutes of moderate exercise daily for a healthy pregnancy and healthy baby. What you consume from the moment of conception matters. A new study published in JAMA pediatrics concluded that significant weight gain in your FIRST trimester is highly associated with a baby’s weight at birth.
So how much weight should I gain?
The amount of weight recommended to gain DURING pregnancy depends entirely on your weight BEFORE pregnancy.
For example, if you are considered “overweight” with a body mass index (BMI) between 25-29.9 before pregnancy, it is recommended that you only gain 15-25 pounds. If you are considered to have a “normal” BMI of 18.5-24.9, the recommended weight gain is 25-35 pounds. And as you can imagine, if you are underweight with a BMI of less than 18.5, you should gain even more weight- approximately 28-40 pounds.
Where does it go??
So yes, gaining weight is necessary and it should be gradual. It's also important to remember, just as weight gain is supposed to be slow and steady, weight loss after delivery will be the same, and that's okay.
The things our bodies are capable of are absolutely amazing.
So today, instead of calling yourself a "beached whale" or looking in the mirror and letting yourself cringe, take a moment to thank your body for creating a home for your baby, call yourself beautiful, allow yourself to love your body for doing what it is supposed to do without you even realizing it.
Big hugs and even bigger belly rubs.
-Jessica RN BSN PHN