Help me gain some perspective on my pregnancy weight gain.
June 17, 2010 1:33 PM   Subscribe

Pregnancy weight gain. Help me gain some perspective on what it means to have gained too much weight.

I'm 27 weeks and I've gained 31 pounds. I started at a normal BMI, and so should be gaining 25-35 pounds for the entire pregnancy, according to my doctor and various other reputable sources. With 13 weeks to go, I've gained too much weight.

I've always had to watch what I ate very closely to avoid weight gain. Like many women, I'm sensitive about my weight. However, I told myself that during my pregnancy, I wasn't going to play into my insecurities and I absolutely was not going to diet, or obsess over what I ate. I was going to eat healthy food when I was hungry, damnit, and eat treats from time to time too. And this is what I have done. I never expected to really gain 'too much' weight, although it felt kind of optional. My grandma proudly proclaimed that she gained 60 pounds in one of her pregnancies. And heck, I've never gained 30 pounds before, so how should I know how easily it can happen?

Despite my brave convictions at the beginning of all this and my attempts to feel ok about it now, the truth is that I feel bad about myself, and have done every time I have to get on the scale at the doctor's office. I've left in tears. It's not that I hate how I look, it's more like I feel ashamed of myself, like I've done something 'bad' and I must be weak and pathetic.

On the other hand, I haven't been on a steady diet of cake and ice cream; as I said, I've just been eating more, with more treats (i.e. a donut, a muffin, ice cream, a bag of chips). Treats maybe 5 -7 times a week instead of 1 or 2. Maybe I should start counting calories again, but life is stressful enough as it is.

Anyhow, my doctor wants me to 'be careful' for the rest of the pregnancy, but inside my head, all I can hear is "I can only gain 4 more pounds", over and over again.

Please give me your insights and anecdata on pregnancy weight gain to help me judge how typical my feelings and weight gain are. How much gain is really too much? Is the 25-35 pounds number truly a health-motivated target, or is there some 'women shouldn't be fat' prejudice in there too? Do most women manage to gain an amount of weight that their doctors deem acceptable? I you gained lots of weight, did it affect your baby's health? Do you regret gaining so much weight? Did it really matter in the end? I realize this is a lot of questions. If you can answer any of them I will be grateful.
posted by kitcat to Health & Fitness (40 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
Most of the 25-35 lbs is baby, fluid, placenta, boob, etc. and just a few pounds of actual fat. Therefore, any weight gained beyond that is pretty much all fat, and it's never healthy to pack on fat. If you gain a lot, it will be that much harder to lose the weight after the baby is born. Plus, gaining too much can put you at risk for gestational diabetes, make delivery more difficult, strain your already stressed joints, etc. So there are definitely many health-based reasons to stay within the recommended weight range.

That said, gaining 40 lbs instead of 35 lbs doesn't mean you've failed or you're a bad person.
Just limit the junk food, walk as much as you can, and try to find low-impact exercises that you enjoy (prenatal pilates is especially good). Staying fit will make pregnancy and delivery much easier!
posted by tetralix at 1:44 PM on June 17, 2010

I had a 9 1/2 lb. baby, and I gained 30 lbs total over 9 1/2 months of pregnancy. I didn't eat anything extra, really, except a protein bar around 10 a.m. most mornings. I never really embraced the concept of "eating for two." I ate when I was hungry, period. I also didn't eat any junk food at all. But that's how I've always eaten.

So I don't think that 25-35 lbs is an unreasonable expectation. But I also don't think you should beat yourself up. Your hormones are on a rollercoaster right now, and they could be affecting your appetite, or your attitudes about food, or your feelings about having gained more than your doctor thinks you should have. Be kinder towards yourself, but also maybe resolve to drop the treats for the duration of your pregnancy? It's not a life sentence, only 13 weeks, and it will be good for your baby, good for you, and good for your state of mind to know you're doing the best you can to give your baby a good start.
posted by MexicanYenta at 1:47 PM on June 17, 2010

From what I have seen, biology, and not lack of discipline or poor habits dictates weight gain during pregnancy. My wife did not gain much but many other buff moms-to-be that I have known gained a lot more, to their chagrin.

Even though I am not of the gender to give birth, just yet, I would encourage you to not worry as much about it and give your baby what it asks for. You'll lose the weight again.
posted by Danf at 1:47 PM on June 17, 2010

I remember that conversation with my doctor too. And outgrowing my pregnancy clothes as I got close to the end. I found though, that the weight gain did taper off as I got into the 3rd trimester.

For me, it didn't matter in the end. I lost the weight eventually. I also think doctors go through some evolutions in how much is the "right amount" to gain. My mother-in-law claimed she only gained 15 pounds because that was what she was told to do by her doctor. I can't imagine that an extra 10 - 15 pounds will be bad for the baby.

Don't count calories. Make sure you're eating healthy food. The occasional snack won't matter. Enjoy that your body can do this miraculous thing.
posted by Sukey Says at 1:48 PM on June 17, 2010 [1 favorite]

Pregnancy really does mess with your head. I think I probably gained 50 lbs or so and my doctors never said a word to me about it, until the end when the weight I was gaining was clearly retained water as a result of pre-eclampsia. If your doctor is saying "be careful" well then clearly s/he's not too freaked out. I wouldn't worry about it too much but would try to concentrate on eating healthy foods. But the truth is, your body needs food and lots of it right now. Don't starve yourself and please don't count calories - that' s just crazy-making.

I'll bet some of your rate of gain levels off though you'll still gain more - that is just a fact that you have to live with. You probably haven't gotten tested for gestational diabetes yet but if you turn up positive, then you'll *really* have to watch what you eat but for now, maybe cut out some of the treats and add in some extra fruits and vegetables. This will have the added bonus of making you feel better!
posted by otherwordlyglow at 1:49 PM on June 17, 2010

Speaking as a fat woman with two children, I wouldn't worry about this at all if I were you. I started out at over 200 lbs. and over the course of the pregnancy gained and lost 10-20 lbs. I am very healthy considering my weight (no high blood pressure, no diabetes, etc.), and both of my children are very healthy, too. One weighed 6 lb. 13 oz. at birth and the other weighed 9 lb. 1 oz., but I think the second one was much bigger because I was more diligent about taking my prenatal vitamins. I swear, they just make babies bigger!

Just do what you've been doing, and worry about losing the weight after baby arrives. And don't feel bad!!
posted by wwartorff at 1:50 PM on June 17, 2010 [2 favorites]

I gained lots of weight and it turned out my baby was HUGE. I'm not saying that's your issue but that's what it was for me. He ended up being 10 lbs. at birth and didn't have any health issues related to my weight gain. He wasn't one of those big babies who slimmed down once he was out. He's always been a bigger-than-average kid (not fat, just broad and long), so I don't believe that my weight gain made him a big baby.

I don't regret gaining so much weight. I was and am firmly in the camp of eat what your body tells you as long as it isn't Doritos all day. There are so many factors that go into weight gain during pregnancy: your build, your partner's build, the size of the baby, etc. And you're going to have to face that you will probably put on more than those "last" four pounds during your last month. This is when the baby really puts on weight.

Please, don't worry yourself sick about this. The weight WILL come off. I ended up gaining 45 lbs., I think (I'm 5'4", small-framed, if that helps), and it was all gone (and then some!) by my son's four-month-birthday. I didn't diet, I was just a new mom! I nursed exclusively and made sure to eat healthfully and drank only water (no soda or tea, for example). The pounds just melted away.

Keep being healthy, drink lots and lots of water, and do not worry about this.
posted by cooker girl at 1:51 PM on June 17, 2010

If you're worried about "failing the baby" somehow, keep in mind that you're really not going overboard in terms of weight gain. Just as it is when you're not pregnant, exercise is good for you if the dr. okays it. Try some walking. Hopefully you'll get some endorphins from it as well.

Contrary to what other people will tell you, your self-worth is NOT tied to your weight, nor is your body up for public discussion just because you're pregnant.
posted by runningwithscissors at 1:54 PM on June 17, 2010 [1 favorite]

Seconding cooker girl, in that nursing definitely helps you lose the weight afterwards.
posted by MexicanYenta at 1:55 PM on June 17, 2010

If your grandma gained 60 lbs. in a pregnancy, then this is probably just genetics and there's nothing you can do. Some women just gain more, and some women don't. As long as you are eating relatively healthy, I would NOT worry about it. DEFINITELY don't try to diet.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 1:55 PM on June 17, 2010 [4 favorites]

Plus, gaining too much can put you at risk for gestational diabetes

This is simply not true. There are risk factors that increase your chance of GD and one of those is being obesity *prior to* becoming pregnant. So gaining a lot of weight while pregnant isn't a risk factor but being obese prior to becoming pregnant is.
posted by otherwordlyglow at 1:58 PM on June 17, 2010

Here's my n of 1: I went from 120 to 165 with a healthy pregnancy. There were no issues with the health of the baby, or my health at the time, or the labor and delivery, so from that perspective, I wouldn't worry too much...But (1) it took a really long time (like 5 years) to get back to a weight I was okay with (under 130) and (2) now, some years later, I realize that this was not just pregnancy weight gain. I was under a tremendous amount of real life stress issues that I didn't fully acknowledge or recognize at the time or in the years to follow, and I was managing the stress at least in part, with food.

And, since you wrote: "life is stressful enough as it is", you may want to consider whether there is something you can do to either relieve or manage your stress in a healthy way. If you can do this, even a little bit, you can maybe be less stressed about your weight gain, since this particular issue seems to be just adding to the whole cycle for you.
posted by gubenuj at 2:05 PM on June 17, 2010 [1 favorite]

I am in the Netherlands and they don't weigh you here, I guess they just eyeball it to see if they think there's an increased risk of gestational diabetes etc. But the scales are not considered a particularly useful way of judging healthy weight gain.

I totally agree with Danf that biology is the main factor involved in pregnancy weight gain. It has made me feel a bit sad, the approval that I've received from friends because I haven't put on 'too much' weight. It's just that I have a big round bump and not much else, but it has nothing to do with how much I have or haven't eaten. It's just the way my genes have dictated that this pregnancy will go. I think it's ridiculous that pregnant women get approval or disapproval based on how their bodies deal with pregnancy.

My personal opinion, utterly unscientific, is that as your body/digestive system changes during pregnancy to get the maximum energy out of every bit of food you eat, it's no longer possible to really have a good idea of how many calories you need. In any case, I find it practically impossible to eat much at the moment - I have little to no appetite and my stomach is very squashed so there's not much room in there. I've still put on somewhere in the vicinity of 14 kilos, despite eating a fraction of what I normally would. (I am naturally skinny and a big, big eater) . That's biology for ya!

Of my friends who are currently pregnant, one is worried because she hasn't put on much weight, the other has the same concern that you do, that she might have put on too much, too early. I don't think you can win, except to ignore everyone else and listen to your own body. Everyone is different.
posted by ask me please at 2:07 PM on June 17, 2010 [2 favorites]

You know, I forgot to mention or even consider that I quit smoking the day I found out I was pregnant. Since smoking was how I dealt with stress, it makes sense that I find life more stressful without the cigarettes. I'm probably eating more to compensate. Thanks for pointing the stress thing out.
posted by kitcat at 2:09 PM on June 17, 2010

I really think pregnancy weight gain is highly individual, and probably genetic to some extent. Some women gain 60 pounds and have perfectly healthy pregnancies and babies and drop the weight with no trouble (and yes, breastfeeding can be pretty miraculous in this regard). Some women gain 20 pounds and struggle for years to drop the weight. As long as you and the baby are healthy, I wouldn't worry too much. My mom gained about 50 pounds with each kid so I was sure I would too. Despite my best ice cream eating efforts I only gained 15 pounds, thus leading my mom to be absolutely convinced that my poor baby would be desperately underweight and malnourished (she was perfectly fine).

So I say weight gain, schmeight gain. Just do your best to eat well, get lots of gentle exercise and relax. I think it's nonsense to suppose that every woman should gain the exact same amount.
posted by Go Banana at 2:13 PM on June 17, 2010 [1 favorite]

Plus, gaining too much can put you at risk for gestational diabetes

This is simply not true. There are risk factors that increase your chance of GD and one of those is being obesity *prior to* becoming pregnant. So gaining a lot of weight while pregnant isn't a risk factor but being obese prior to becoming pregnant is.

I should have said: the kind of diet that results in excessive weight gain during pregnancy can put you at risk for GD.
posted by tetralix at 2:17 PM on June 17, 2010

Girl, you just quit smoking! Stop beating yourself up! I gained 40 with my first baby, going from 135 to 175. It all dropped off, even though I still have a belly.

This time, I've been throwing up so much and so nauseous that I've lost weight and I feel like warm, soggy ass. I honestly pine for the first pregnancy where I just ate like a hoover vacuum. Don't beat yourself up if you gain 40 instead of 25-35. I know a very slim woman who gained 70 lbs with her pregnancy. It's all gone now. The best part about gaining pregnancy weight is that you're going to be chasing around a kid, so there's a built-in exercise regimen. I wouldn't advocate gaining 70lbs, but gaining an extra 10 as a result of quitting smoking is TOTALLY OK in my book, and probably most other people's too.
posted by kpht at 2:32 PM on June 17, 2010 [6 favorites]

It's manageable. 31 pounds isn't that much -- many women gain twice that.

You'll lose what's necessary after the baby is born. Right now the baby needs things. I remember the third trimester as an endless parade of avocados and bacon.

It sounds like your attitude has been fine and you're second guessing yourself because you're feeling like omfg 31 pounds! but it's not that big a deal. You gain in spurts and starts throughout your pregnancy and every woman and every baby is different. I gained ten pounds in the first eight weeks or so. I felt pretty awesome, oh my yes. I didn't even show. I just got fat.

I don't think I gained ten pounds in the entire third trimester. I did most of my gaining in the second trimester and wound up gaining, I think, 35-37 pounds? Something like that. She was 8 lbs 6 ounces.

Cut yourself some slack--especially since you quite smoking when you found out you were pregnant. That must have been a hormonal rollercoaster. Maybe go buy a nice, cool, comfortable sundress or do something else that will help you feel a little more confident and at peace in your body, which is working very hard.

You may feel differently, and I hope your experience is different than mine, but I can safely say that every time I went to the doctor's through my entire pregnancy I left feeling like shit. I came home crying so many times Mr. Llama started going with me. I hope your experience is different than mine, but I just wanted to say--watch out for feeling insecure and crappy because if that happens repeatedly, it's not necessarily you.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 2:34 PM on June 17, 2010

I gained 20 pounds when I quit smoking. Then I got pregnant soon after and gained another 60 pounds. That baby weighed 7 pounds 7 ounces. I then lost the baby weight, the smoking weight, and some more weight over the course of a year, and felt healthy and great. I got pregnant again and gained about 35-40 pounds. That baby weighed 7 pounds 11 ounces. So in my case at least, weight gain had nothing to do with size of my baby at birth.

With my first pregnancy, I quit looking at the scale after about 6 months. The information I gained from knowing my weight simply wasn't worth the guilt and bad feelings of knowing. My midwife didn't say much to me about my weight with either pregnancy. Your weight gain will taper off as you get closer to the end since you simply won't be able to eat much. And after the baby is born the weight will come off, if you want it too and are willing to put a little effort into it. Don't worry about it now. Don't even worry about it later, really.

Look, the next year of your life if going to be really difficult and wonderful. Don't waste too much time worried about your weight. Find a way to make yourself feel good. That should include eating well, sleeping when you can, and exercising when you can and when you want.
posted by Hushpuppy at 2:37 PM on June 17, 2010 [1 favorite]

is there some 'women shouldn't be fat' prejudice in there too?

I haven't been pregnant, but I have seen a few physicians who just couldn't resist suggesting I lose some weight when it was not medically necessary for me to do so (I guess I was at the high end of an acceptable range, though I was also totally healthy). So, if you're otherwise healthy and/or get the sense that your doctor may be taking this kind of attitude, I wouldn't be shocked if it were a factor in his/her assessment of your weight gain.
posted by Meg_Murry at 2:38 PM on June 17, 2010

Like dietary restrictions during pregnancy, how much weight is "appropriate" seems to be really culture-defined (rather than science-based medical fact). If there is a family history of significant weight gain, that will be a factor.

My mother gained 50 pounds with her first two pregnancies, and then lost the weight after each pregnancy. When she became pregnant the third time (with me) her doctor told her that gaining and losing weight like that was unhealthy, and so he prescribed AMPHETAMINES for my mother to take daily throughout her pregnancy. I shit you not. This was the 1960's, so put your Mad Men hat on to get into the mindset. She didn't gain so much weigh during the pregnancy, but of course the amphetamines totally screwed up her metabolism and she ballooned up post-pregnancy so that really didn't work out the way her doctor had planned but whatever.

I quit smoking the day I found out I was pregnant.

This is really important. That's a fabulous thing you have accomplished, and please be gentle with yourself about the weight gain.

Excessive weight gain is a flag for things like Gestational Diabetes and pre-eclampsia, but gaining 10 (or 20!) pounds more than "recommended" does not in any way reflect on your self-worth. Especially given that you quit smoking the day you found out you were pregnant. Bravo to you for that, by the way- that is a real triumph, and for that reason alone you should cut yourself a little slack. Have you reminded your doctor that you quit smoking when you became pregnant? I'm guessing that your doctor would rather have you gain more than 35 pounds, and stay off the ciggies, than the alternative.
posted by ambrosia at 2:42 PM on June 17, 2010 [1 favorite]

I should have said: the kind of diet that results in excessive weight gain during pregnancy can put you at risk for GD.

Also not true. Nothing you eat during pregnancy will cause GD. I'm sorry but currently doctors really don't know what causes GD. There are risk factors yes, but your diet *during pregnancy* is not one of them.
posted by otherwordlyglow at 2:51 PM on June 17, 2010

First, the last few weeks-you hardly gain anything, so don't stress out, the pace will slow down on its own.

Second, it comes off so lightning fast if you were a healthy BMI to begin with that your head will spin. I only gained 20 pounds with each of mine, but I literally lost all of it in six weeks, nursing and letting the water come off.

Really, you gain what you gain. Lots of women only gain 20, lots gain 75, and the vast majority give birth to healthy babies. Don't let the doc get you down either-an otherwise healthy woman can gain five-ten extra pounds and it isn't a big deal. If you were obese, I would be more cautious about that but since you are not, don't sweat it. Pregnancy gives you fifty million things to worry about, this is one of them, but in your case, I'd say it's a very minor concern. And trust your body to do what's right for your baby-even if you gain a few extra pounds.
posted by supercapitalist at 2:57 PM on June 17, 2010

I think it's partially 'women shouldn't be fat' prejudice. Also, your body feels huge and wrong to you, so you may be interpreting that as what 'fat' feels like, when in reality that is what sudden body changes feel like.

Statistically, thin women do gain more during pregnancy than fat women, and from all the anecdata I've heard, it falls off again, except for about 7 lbs of it. Personally, I was obese/morbidly obese for both my pregnancies and gained 13-17lbs per baby (second pregnancy was twins) -- myself also determined to eat healthy when I was hungry and not freak out over weight gain. But I can tell you that with the twins, I was waking up in the middle of the night to eat massive amounts of food and taking 2 naps a day. I literally woke up -ate- napped- ate - napped -ate- went to bed. And I have a sweet tooth. According the the calories in/calories out model, I should have gained 75lbs. But my weight gain was 'perfect' and from a medical perspective, they were perfect easy pregnancies (ages 24 & 32) producing babies with 8/9 apgars. One of my best friends was 'thin' and gained and then lost 75 lbs with each of her pregnancies. I would guess it's pretty common.

So I'm Nthing the 'relax'. You're doing good, mama. Everything going to be ok.
posted by MeiraV at 3:08 PM on June 17, 2010

I am not a doctor, but when I looked this up, this is what I found:

Gaining too much weight can also be a problem. It can make pregnancy an unpleasant experience, causing backache, leg pain, varicose veins, and fatigue. It may lead to hypertension and diabetes. Excess weight may also be difficult to lose after delivery.

Excessive weight gain may also cause problems for the baby. Technically, an overweight baby is one who weighs more than 4500 gm, or 9.9 lbs. Large babies make vaginal deliveries difficult, increasing the risk for cesarean section. Overweight babies may have an increased risk for health problems later in life (e.g., obesity, adult rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes).


Excessive Weight Gain During Pregnancy Linked to Heart Disease Risk in Offspring

Obviously you should be expressing these feelings you're having openly with your doctor or a nurse or a nutritionist, especially if you're so upset by this. You need support and encouragement and good advice, and if you don't like the doctor you're with now, you should try to find one that suits you and is one you trust, not one whose advice you discard because you suspect he/she thinks "women shouldn't be fat."
posted by anniecat at 3:32 PM on June 17, 2010

My anecdote: I'm tall and fairly slim to begin with. I gained over 40 lbs when I was pregnant with my first. He was a champion nurser, and it was all gone by my six-week checkup.
posted by The corpse in the library at 3:44 PM on June 17, 2010

I gained about 60 lbs during my first pregnancy. I started out at 115 which was low for me. I had never had much of an appetite and pregnancy made me ravenous . I think it caused unnecessary physical discomfort at the very end but at six months I could still hop up on a counter unaided ( I was renovating a kitchen). It was very gratifying, through the miracle of breastfeeding, to watch the fat leave my thighs and go to my daughter's, where it looked so much better. The weight just fell off. Don't give yourself a hard time, maybe focus on eating healthy and don't worry about quantity.
posted by InkaLomax at 3:51 PM on June 17, 2010

I gained 60 pounds with my child. I think I passed the 30 lb mark at 5 months...I'm sure a complete lack of vomiting was partly to blame! Still, 60+ lbs is a LOT of weight for someone who started around the 130 mark!

The thing is, despite not being happy about how I looked, and a little nervous about how my ankles were blowing up towards the end, I was under a doctor's care, & the doctor was telling me "there's nothing wrong." (Disclaimer: She was a complete idiot, & I didn't bother to call her in when I went into labor. I voted for a complete stranger's expertise over hers when the chips were down.) Armed with the reassurance of frequent checkups, I gave myself complete license to tell the 30-lb finger-waggers to Go to Hell, forgave myself for scarfing up anything my body said to eat, and basically enjoyed a very easy, trouble-free pregnancy that eventually ended with a robustly healthy kid in my arms.

If your doctor's not excited (and I like to think she would have been much more pro-active than simply advising you, "be careful," if she were seriously worried about you), I'm in the "take it easy on yourself" camp. Extra weight does not automatically spell disaster in a pregnancy.

I WILL say that the person who told me, "what you look like at 4 months is what you will look like the rest of your life" was on to something...
posted by Ys at 3:58 PM on June 17, 2010

I gained at least 40 lbs when I was pregnant (I was pushing the 30 mark around where you are). I started off at a normal BMI. My doctor didn't say a peep about weight gain to me. After I delivered, I lost about 30 lbs within two weeks. I think alot of the weight that I had put on during the pregnancy was water - I was swollen everywhere! I think I only gained about 10 "real" pounds which I was able to get off by about 8 weeks post partum.

This is not the time to be stressing about weight because the numbers are guidelines and if you and the baby are doing well (no blood pressure issues, etc) then don't sweat the numbers. Remember, it was not long ago that they were advising women not to gain anything. You really have to take the guidelines with a grain of salt (and some really, really good ice cream).
posted by Leezie at 4:05 PM on June 17, 2010

Anecdata, but my friend gained over 50 lbs with no complications, had a baby that was a scant 7 lbs, then lost all her pregnancy weight plus some extra within the first 6 months after delivery. She said she was "just hungry" while she was pregnant. She knew that she should have lots of healthy foods, not empty calories, but it didn't always work that way.

For some perspective: My mom was told not to gain more than 15 lbs during pregnancy because that was the prevailing advice at the time, apparently, for everyone. That barely accounts for the baby, the placenta, and the amniotic fluid. So medical advice about weight gain during pregnancy changes with the times.

IANAD, but I think that the 2nd trimester is when you gain some of your own personal weight - breast tissue and the like - and in the third trimester is when it's mostly the baby who is growing. At least that's how it seemed when I was pregnant. Maybe someone else can corroborate. The weight gain slowed down after the second trimester.

Personally, I actually left my first OB because she was so militant that I was starting pregnancy with a BMI of 23 (omg) and I was going to have to be so, so careful. cuckoo

Don't fret, don't think that you only have "4 more lbs," and certainly don't let yourself get stressed at this special time of life where you are already working so hard to grow another human being inside you. Just keep eating healthy so that you'll know you are doing your best for your baby.

And congratulations!
posted by Knowyournuts at 4:15 PM on June 17, 2010

Everyone who says not to worry (too much) is right, I think. I'm also a stress eater, and with this 4th pregnancy in less than 4 years (including one miscarriage) I did eat more at the end of the last pregnancy, mainly b/c I was chasing a preschooler and a toddler.

Now that I'm 9 months out from this last pregnancy (and my son has weaned himself) I am losing those last pounds that you tend to retain when nursing -- initially you lose, but you dont' get super skinny b/c you have to have some fat to support the milk-making.

Everyone said "9 months on, 9 months off" and that's held true for me with every pregnancy. Don't beat yourself up, and if you tend to eat in times of stress, maybe you can redirect yourself by telling yourself you're going to find more healthful ways of dealing with stress -- for your kid's sake.

With 3 little ones I FINALLY get that you need proper fuel to really take care of yourself and them -- spiritual fuel (for me this is my Christian faith), food fuel (eating mostly healthy stuff every day and getting sleep and exercise), and, I guess, soul fuel - time with family, friends and books in my case.

The best is yet to be! And once that baby arrives you'll really want to do what it takes to spend a long, long life with him/her. Hang in there. :-)
posted by mdiskin at 4:19 PM on June 17, 2010

I started out slightly underweight but gained 60 pounds with my middle child. I gained at least 50 with the other two. To be fair I was on bed rest when I gained the most, but still I gained 60 pounds.

I also got the talk from my doctor, and all it did was make me feel like crap. I felt like if I couldn't even control something as simple as how much weight I gained then surely I would be a pathetic mother. I cried. Every time I went for a checkup I cringed at the scale.

I lost 25 pounds in the hospital. By my six week check-up I only had 30 lbs. to go to be at my pre-pregnancy weight. I did yoga, and by the time my baby was 9 months old I was down to a normal weight (heavy for me, but healthy.) By the time he was a year old I was back to my pre-pregnancy weight.

Don't freak out. Relax and enjoy the one time in your life when you shouldn't care about how much you weight. Unless the doctor says you're at risk for diabetes or some other health concerns you should just relax and stop worrying.
posted by TooFewShoes at 5:55 PM on June 17, 2010

A friend of mine who had a baby two years ago battled her weight before being pregnant. Seeing the scale was so stressful for her that she would step onto it backwards at her appointments and she told whoever was weighing her that she didn't want to know. She also told her doctor that unless something was seriously wrong that she didn't want to know her weight. I think that's not a bad way to go.

Also, whenever these practitioners give me vague advice like "watch it," I like to probe for specifics. Ask things like: What are you worried about? What's appropriate at this stage? How much more do you think I should gain/will gain? What's your advice for changing/improving? Sometimes they'll back down, other times you'll get better info. Telling a pregnant woman to just vaguely "watch the weight" is super annoying.

Don't focus on your weight. Focus on your stress and come up with some things to help alleviate stress. Stress is no good for you! :) Hang in there!
posted by amanda at 6:11 PM on June 17, 2010

I'm 5' 3" and had gained 40 - 45 pounds by the 2nd trimester. I TOLD my OB it was water, but she kept squawking about it. Then I got diagnosed with gestational diabetes (everybody in my family has Type 2 diabetes) and she got kind of smug. Whatever.

So I started eating according to the GD diet, did great, and didn't gain any more weight. But I was still 40 pounds up when I checked in to deliver. 10 days later, I was down 45 pounds. I told that bitch it was all water! Obviously baby, amniotic fluid, and placenta accounts for something, but seriously, my neck, face and torso were so full of fluid for my whole pregnancy. Don't worry too much (if you can help it!)
posted by peep at 6:15 PM on June 17, 2010

"30-35" is a guideline for most, not an upper limit.

I quit smoking the day I found out I was pregnant.

Wow. Wow. This is awesome, seriously. Such a hard thing to do, and you did it for your baby. Enjoy your freaking daily cupcake or whatever.

31 pounds at 27 weeks ain't no thing, anyway. You won't really gain the last month, probably (at least, I haven't with any of my 3 pregnancies), which means you'll probably only gain 40 or so total -- not even worth telling your own grandchildren about!

Anyway, I've gained about 42 with each pregnancy, the majority of it in the second trimester. All but about 5 pounds comes off through nursing. Babies have both been 7 lb 11 oz (7-11! I named the first Slurpee and the second Big Gulp!) and perfectly, utterly healthy (bad rice, puh puh). Never any sign of gestational diabetes, and my blood pressure is super-low.
posted by palliser at 7:39 PM on June 17, 2010

Dump the guilt. Your baby needs you to eat healthy foods, lots of food groups, lots of nutrients, all the protein and complex carbohydrates and vegetables and fruits and goodness that will nourish your baby's body & brain.

I've always disagreed with doctors who come down too hard on weight gain during pregnancy. This is the ONE TIME when you should STOP worrying about your weight, and worry ONLY about what kind of nutrition you're taking into your body.

And the other thing is, your genetics mean a LOT about how much weight you'll gain while pregnant. My sister is super tiny and gained something like 50 pounds both times she was pregnant (she lost it all after the pregnancies). I'm bigger than she is, so I didn't gain quite that much, but still more than the recommended weight. (I have a healthy BMI now, 10 years later.)

If stress is causing you to reach for empty calories like chips or candy, you could try to find some alternatives—healthy foods you can munch on that take a while to chew (I just rediscovered frozen grapes.) and then, make those foods super easy to grab. Cut up vegetables and fruits and put them in baggies in your fridge... snack on those if you're just stress-eating, but don't "diet". If you're hungry, EAT. Eat a full complement of nutritionally dense foods, and keep treating yourself occasionally. Eat them and enjoy them as "treats", after your hunger has been satisfied by healthy food & snacks (protein, fruits, veggies, nuts, cheese, etc.)

If you're ALREADY eating mostly healthy foods with occasional treats (and it sounds like you are), then dump the guilt and tell your doctor about your family history and that you're not worried. (And don't be. Don't be worried.)

Best of luck.
posted by eleyna at 7:48 PM on June 17, 2010

Random anecdote: at 36 weeks, I'd gained 33 pounds. So I had four weeks to go, and two pounds I was allowed to gain. Naturally, the doctor told me to limit my weight gain to half a pound a week going forward, apparently using my finely-honed laser embiggening system.

I didn't listen, and the adverse effect that occurred was that the doctor will forever be known in our house as Dr. Bitch. It's even more tragic because it could so easily have been avoided.
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 7:58 PM on June 17, 2010 [2 favorites]

My doctor said the same thing. I didn't listen and don't regret it a bit. (It helped that my mom had recounted tales of how she had gained 50 pounds with each pregnancy and lost it just fine.) I ended up gaining 60 pounds with my pregnancy. My daughter was healthy, almost 9 pounds at birth. When she turned one year old, I had lost 80 pounds, with no calorie restriction or particular focus on exercise, just working on getting my body feeling good again, and letting her nurse anytime she wanted (which was a lot).

I think you should let yourself eat what you want (especially if you'll nurse for the first year or two as that should take any extra weight off).

Congratulations on quitting smoking -- that's huge. (And enough hard work without trying to make things harder for yourself with your food.)
posted by Margalo Epps at 8:23 PM on June 17, 2010

Sigh of relief. I love all the stories. Thanks, everyone. I'm all warm and fuzzy - you've made me feel so much better. The more sane of my instincts say not to worry about this, and you've helped me to trust them.
posted by kitcat at 8:55 PM on June 17, 2010 [2 favorites]

I too was worried about weight gain during my pregnancy. My midwife encouraged me to just turn around when being weighed, I didn't know how much I had gained until I wanted to know. You will be shocked at how fast it might come off.

(Also, thanks for being the reason that I finally got an account, you totally pulled at my heartstrings. I hope the rest of your pregnancy goes smoothly.)
posted by Nickel Pickle at 9:21 PM on June 17, 2010 [1 favorite]

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