Last week, my 31-week ob/gyn appointment started off with me stepping on the scale.
I glanced at the number, and then I saw the nurse jot it down.
The recommended healthy weight gain during pregnancy is 25-35 pounds.
Total. For your whole pregnancy.
I’ll get back to the expert advice in a bit.
But first: Guess how much I’ve gained, with two months to go before this girl is done cooking.
Go On. Guess.
Forty pounds. Four. Zero.
I’d been feeling a little bit…softer around the edges during this pregnancy.
But I don’t weigh myself regularly at home, so I don’t keep close track. At my previous doctor’s appointments, I’d seen the number on the scale but hadn’t given it much thought.
This time was different.
This time, it was a ROUND number.
A nice, big round number to match my nice, big round pregnant body.
How Could This Happen?
As I sat in the room waiting for the doctor or midwife to come in, my mind flipped through the explanations:
- I’m older. Advanced maternal age, even!
- I didn’t get back to my pre-pregnancy weight before getting pregnant again.
- Oh, and there’s this thing where I never exercise and eat dessert every night.
I’m not sure why I’d be gaining weight like crazy?
Let Me Back Up
My diet is actually decent. Lots of veggies and lean proteins.
On the dessert front: Sometimes my dessert after dinner is just a bowl of strawberries. Other times, it’s a scoop of ice cream.
Which probably isn’t the best choice, but hey – it’s exactly how I ate before pregnancy.
The real difference is exercise.
I’ve never had a super regular exercise routine. But I know for a fact that in the early days of this pregnancy, all forms of exercise immediately ceased.
And for a very good reason.
When I had a miscarriage last year, the first sign of trouble was spotting.
Do you know what happened when I went for a walk around the neighborhood when newly pregnant this go-round?
I gave it a rest for a couple days and tried again.
Gave it one more go a few days later.
Just from a leisurely walk in the neighborhood.
Logically, I knew going on a walk wouldn’t cause a miscarriage.
But I was trying to keep a little bean of a human growing inside me. At the sight of blood after every one of those walks, my heart raced and my eyes clouded with tears.
“No,” I’d whisper. “Please no.”
So That’s Why
When the midwife came into the exam room, we exchanged small talk and she sat on that little rolling stool.
“So,” she said. “Do you have any questions or concerns?”
I looked down at my belly. “Well, I’m a little surprised by the weight gain.”
She smiled. “I noticed that, too.”
We talked about age being a factor, and she asked about my diet.
Then: “What do you do for exercise?”
I swallowed. “Honestly? Nothing. Every time I exercise, I spot.”
“Even short walks?”
“Let’s take a look at your growth,” she said.
I laid back, and she measured my belly.
“I know the scale says you’ve gained 40 pounds, but I don’t see where you’re hiding it.”
“Trust me, it’s there,” I said.
“Here’s the thing,” she said. “You’re measuring right on track. And your glucose test came back negative, so I’m not worried about baby being too big.”
I struggled to sit up on the table, and she held a hand out.
“Spotting is never fun to see when you’re pregnant, but at this stage it’s less of a concern,” she said.
And I came up with a plan.
I’ll start walking, twice a day. If I see spotting, I’ll take a deep breath and tell myself not to worry.
We’re almost to the finish line, and I want to have the energy to enjoy every bit of it.
My midwife’s approach to the conversation was perfectly wonderful. Not pushy. Not judgmental.
She helped me make an informed decision based on my own situation instead of giving me a cookie-cutter answer focused on the number alone.
I was an equal partner in the discussion.
But after researching the issue more later, some of the expert advice on pregnancy weight gain just isn’t sitting well with me.
What You Need to Know About Pregnancy Weight Gain
What are the real dangers of gaining more than the recommended amount during pregnancy?
- You’ll be more uncomfortable with all that extra weight to haul around.
- You could develop gestational diabetes.
- You might have high blood pressure, which can lead to scary complications.
- Your baby could be big, making labor more difficult and possibly leading to a C-section.
- You’ll have your work cut out for you to lose more weight after the baby’s born.
But check out how the experts introduce this list of concerns:
“Here’s a look at the risks of gaining too much weight during pregnancy. Keep these in mind when you’re mid-craving, and it might be a little easier to put down those Oreos.”
“When you’re pregnant, you get to eat as many donuts and French fries as you want, right? Wrong! You only need about 300 extra calories a day during pregnancy to support your baby’s growth and development. So you don’t need to be chowing down everything in sight!”
For me personally, I have no signs of gestational diabetes, my blood pressure is consistently low, and my baby’s growth is right on track.
Leaving only concerns number 1 and 5, which are really just about my own convenience.
After talking to my midwife and reading up on the risks, I’m not concerned about my “high” pregnancy weight gain.
But you know what does bother me?
This jokey-haha stereotype of the lazy pregnant woman sitting on the couch eating Oreos all day.
For the experts to reinforce that is just unnecessary.
And it’s not just flippant comments in web articles. Some of my friends have gotten “the look” from their doctors when their weight gain has been even a little higher than the recommended amount.
You know the look. The one that assumes you’re eating a bag of Oreos with every meal.
But Here’s the Thing
I chase a toddler around all day. A fiercely independent toddler who wants to investigate EVERYTHING.
And I am not alone.
We pregnant mamas work hard all day.
Some of us work from home with little ones in tow. Some of us haul our extra 20, 30, or 40 pounds into the office every day. And others are pregnant for the first time, trying their best to do everything right to grow a healthy baby.
We care about our babies, and we want the very best for them.
So don’t tell us to “put down those Oreos.”
Give us the information we need to make educated decisions about what’s right for our bodies and our babies, and treat us like the capable, caring, badass mamas that we are.
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Check out 6 Cheap Ways to Style Your Bump for tips on cute maternity clothes that won’t cost a fortune. Then bookmark this for later because you’ll need it: 7 Tips for Postpartum Clothes That Won’t Make You Look Pregnant.
What are your thoughts on pregnancy weight gain? Share in a comment below!
I’m a mom of four, a recovering perfectionist, and the author of Happy You, Happy Family. Parenting is hard enough without all the guilt we heap on top of ourselves. So let’s stop trying to be perfect parents and just be real ones. Sound good? Join my mailing list and as a bonus, you’ll get 25+ incredibly helpful cheat sheets that will ease your parenting struggles.