Overweight and Pregnant: 4 Tips for Keeping the Weight Gain to a Minimum
Weight. It’s one of my least favorite words. I’ve spent my entire adult life fluctuating between being overweight and being more overweight. My love for food and satisfaction in the sofa far outweigh (pun intended) my disdain for being heavy. My years of fertility struggles constantly taunted me with “Maybe if you weren’t OBESE you’d have a baby by now!”
I had plenty of time, motivation, support, and knowledge to lose the weight, but, shamefully, I never made it happen.
So when I finally got pregnant, I was filled with happiness, but still cloaked in regret for not shedding the weight before I housed a human. Would my weight hurt the baby? Would I have the endurance? Would I suffer from gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, thrombosis, miscarriage, or pre-term or overdue labor?
My fantasies of being the girl with the tight, round baby bump became fears of being the girl with fatter more misshapen fat. Would anyone ever know if I was even pregnant? Or, would they just assume I was gaining yet another twenty pounds caused by excessive cheese and s’more binges?
Before I met with my OB, I knew my weight would be a concern for him. Part of me wished my husband would skip that initial appointment, so he didn’t witness the speech I’d inevitably receive. But neither disappointed, and my husband sat by my side while the doctor addressed his concerns for a mother of my size.
Determined to prevent future lectures and to do my best for my baby, I vowed to keep my weight gain under twenty pounds, and silently promised to really impress him by sticking to the fifteen pounds he really advised.
I had no exercise routine prior to getting pregnant. With my miscarriage history, I had NO intention of starting one (even though my doctor did not advise against it).
The first trimester was simple. Nausea became the boss of my day, preventing me from inhaling food at my usual pace. The second trimester was a bit more challenging. My appetite was overwhelming, but fortunately, my energy level increased helping me burn some of the extra calories I consumed each day. And now, in the third trimester, my meal portions have dwindled as my internal companion crowds my stomach and drains my energy.
Barring any unforeseen circumstances, I am thankful to report I am on target to adhere to the weight goals set forth by my physician, but even if I wasn’t, I have learned not to beat myself up. Being heavy does not disqualify you or make you unfit to carry a child. Being heavy does not bind you to ten months of complications and guilt (trust me, you will feel guilt for LOADS of other things, so cut yourself some slack here!). Being overweight most of my adult life does not qualify me to give weight loss advice, however, here are a few tips that helped transform my mind without causing me to murder a pack of Oreos each night.
4 Tips for Staying the Course and Keeping Weight Gain to a Minimum While Pregnant
- Your body is not your enemy. The psyche of a weight warrior typically includes a pretty negative opinion of ones physical appearance. Change that. Your body is AMAZING! Your body GROWS people! Your body deserves a high five and a back rub! And a break from being ridiculed for extra pounds.
- Direct “fetus food films” in your head. Sounds silly, I know. But these “mental mini movies” have been a HUGE source of motivation for me. I do a quick scan of the nutritional content (or lack thereof) of most of the foods I eat. Then, I picture how that nutritional content will resonate with my growing baby. I picture oranges jolting him out of a nap, making him smile, and giving him the energy to develop another fold or two in his genius brain. I picture Greek yogurt hardening his bones, so he’ll be able to kick a soccer ball with his uncle when he’s born. Make sense? Maybe a bit extreme, but these “films” have helped me consume healthier foods than ever before.
- Move! While I was too scared to begin an exercise regimen during my pregnancy, I did view getting my heart rate up in a whole new light. The longer walk to the store no longer bothered me and taking the stairs didn’t kill me. It wasn’t much, but every little bit seemed to help. Park farther away, skip the elevator, walk the mall, weed your garden- do whatever you can, and you may be surprised by the benefit.
- Make your mind your ally. For me, weight gain is often affiliated with emotional turmoil. But pregnancy, even during those more difficult days, has been one of the happiest times of my life. Eating my feelings no longer applies. Focus on what matters. Forget about financial stresses, partner woes, undesirable aesthetics, and things beyond your control. In this moment, you are making miracles happen. In this moment, you should be nothing short of happy. Oreos need not apply.
You are not sentenced to a life of fat. Being heavy before you begin does not necessarily mean pregnancy will enhance the undesireable reflection you usually see in the mirror. You have no idea how the hormones will affect your appetite, metabolism, and body shape. You may like the result more than you ever imagined!