thoughts on weight gain in pregnancy

DenaJune 10, 2013

Throughout my pregnancy, several women (both pregnant + not pregnant) gave me advice or asked for advice about pregnancy weight gain. For some women, it was about their discomfort with their pregnant bodies, sadness or embarrassment about “getting fat.” For other women, it was about health, making certain to eat all of the right things + work out religiously. I was blessed to hear so many viewpoints, so I thought I’d take a few moments to share my own.

First of all, all pregnant women (like all women in general!) are hard on themselves at times. “I could be eating better.” “I could be exercising more.” “Holy hell, look at my belly.” Etc, etc. I think it’s natural, but I also think that it should have limits.

I had prenatal depression during my first trimester. It was severe. In fact, it was some of the worst depression I’ve faced in my life. I remember when the midwife that I was seeing at that time told me I would very likely gain back all of the 65 pounds that I had lost seven years ago. I was already depressed, and then, that crushed me. I ended up going to another group later, for different reasons, but my new doctors told me that I should gain about 35 pounds like the average pregnant woman. I guess that made me feel a little better… but the whole thing was still scary/upsetting.

In the end, I gained exactly 50 pounds during my pregnancy. Early in my second trimester, my hormones balanced out and my prenatal depression went away. With that, my concerns about weight gain went away, too. I began to embrace my expanding body and enjoy the miracle of pregnancy. I steadily gained weight, about a pound a week and then a little more than that in my third trimester. After I hit 35 pounds, my doctors started telling me to watch what I ate and get more exercise. I started to become more thoughtful of my food choices. I cut out my weekly hot fudge sundaes. I should have been exercising, but it was difficult with a stressful job. I let the pregnancy exhaustion get the better of me.

However, the bottom line is that I never got too worried about it. The entire experience was such a joyful miracle and I embraced every part of it — from the horrendous heartburn, to the back aches, to the joy, to the tears, to the weight gain — all of it.

Losing weight postpartum has come naturally so far. I’ve lost 30 pounds without much effort. Breastfeeding has probably helped. I imagine that losing the last 20 will be more difficult, but I also know that it’s entirely possible. I lost 70 pounds total at one point when I was at my fittest. If I can do that, I know that I can lose this 20! It will take work + dedication but for my beautiful baby, I’ll pay that anytime. I have seen so many women struggle with losing weight after baby and that scares the hell out of me, but at the same time, I also feel like weight loss is weight loss. You have to burn more calories than you consume, it’s not rocket science — even though it took me a lifetime to learn!!

To women that are struggling with weight gain during pregnancy, my advice is to focus on enjoying the miracle unfolding within you. Be reasonable with your food choices and exercise when/if you can, but don’t obsess. After baby comes then start to worry about it all again. In the meantime, fall in love with your body exactly as it is now. It is the miracle vessel that is GROWING A LIFE INSIDE OF YOU.

You’ve got to find the strength + wisdom in yourself to believe that everything I am saying is true — because it is.

Comments (6)

  • amy

    June 10, 2013 at 4:57 pm

    you, my love, were one of the most beautiful, glowing pregnant mamas i have ever seen.
    i know it is so hard not to think about weight gain/loss, but really, it is so, so unimportant in total. (unless there are health issues, obviously).
    as long as baby is healthy, and you are healthy (before AND after), that is all the matters.
    i don’t think i could ever get upset about my changing body again ( i know it did the first time around, but now being through it all, i would just be happy i was making a miracle.)…

    1. denabotbyl

      June 20, 2013 at 9:35 am

      thank you, love! you are very kind. you’re so right — it’s so easy to get caught up with the rest, but a healthy happy baby & mama are really the important things.

  • Sarah

    June 10, 2013 at 7:12 pm

    I’m glad you let it go. I never worried about weight my entire life. I didn’t make that conscious effort it just happened that it wasn’t ever one my ‘things.’ I gained forty-two pounds with Lucy. I didn’t care for the first two months, because dang. Then I don’t know what happened, one day I looked in the mirror and had the most self-criticizing moment I’ve ever had. Every thing looks awful, sagging, loose, not pretty, etc. That was a blow. It’s taken another three and a half months to be fine with it and accept it. I saw a great quote by Reese Witherspoon (I think) that said of all the things she remembers about her mother she never once remembered her complimenting herself or saying she thought she was beautiful to herself and I realized I don’t want my daughter to be standing in front of someone twenty years from now and saying that about me.

    1. denabotbyl

      June 20, 2013 at 9:37 am

      i’ve had those awful moments in front of the mirror, too. not fun. but they pass quickly as we focus on what truly matters. <3

  • Angelique

    June 29, 2013 at 7:35 pm

    Thank you so much for this post Dena, I had trouble with accepting body changes after baby for sure! I remember at my 6 week check up and the doctor told me she was so proud of me that I had lost all of my baby weight, which I chuckled at and told her not to be fooled because I was definitely still wearing my maternity pants! Although the pounds were gone, I just felt completely different since alot of things were not the same as before, but I was assured all of that just takes time and changes after a baby is totally normal. There are good days and there are okay days, but when you see those baby smiles and hear those giggles…it’s worth every lb!

  • Anna Dawson

    August 9, 2013 at 5:27 am

    In my first pregnancy, I was so excited to be pregnant and have a green light to eat to my heart’s content. I made a pretty typical first-timer mistake. I stopped exercising because I was nauseous and exhausted, increased my portion sizes at virtually every meal, and put Pizza Hut on the speed dial. BAM. First trimester ended and I was already up 10 pounds. By that point, my appetite was enormous, my body was addled with excessive carbohydrates (let’s face it; no pregnant woman binges on chicken breasts) and my weight gain snowballed from there. I exercised again and ate healthfully (albeit, still too much), but by the time I gave birth I had gained about 55 pounds. After my first was born a plump 9 pounds, 2 ounces, I lost the water and placenta + baby pounds, finding myself with another 40 pounds of fat to work off.

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