This mom is not dishing on her kid’s food habits today. Instead, I am hoping to relieve moms of the new social mindset that pregnant women should sport a bump—and only a bump—during the most beautiful nine months of their lives.
In recent years, pregnancy has become fashionable—an accessory to flaunt. With all the attention on celebrity pregnancies, of course, weight gain and weight loss post-delivery have surged into the spotlight. At times, it can seem like a competition between who can gain the least amount of weight and lose it quickly afterward. (I believe it was Bethenny Frankel who lost 30 pounds in less than a month and Rachel Zoe who limited her weight gain to between 12 and 15 pounds.)
As I walk through the streets of Manhattan, I see pregnant women strolling around the city sporting their baby bump—so cute. Women looked beautiful with their bumps even before it was a trend—before it was more fashionable than the label on their mom jeans.
And while pregnancy is supposed to give women that inexplicable glow, now, pregnancy is more about how much weight you didn’t gain.
Because of my profession, but also as a woman living in a trend-driven urban center, I see and hear it all the time: women who worry that they’re gaining too much weight and who don’t understand why they gained 20 pounds when their best girlfriend only gained 15. As a RD, CDE, I have a special understanding that what we feed ourselves affects our unborn child. I understand that an increase in blood sugar puts the baby at risk for high blood sugar too.
For these reasons, when we talk about a healthy weight for pregnancy, I encourage pregnant women to focus on self-care—eating a balanced intake of food and reaching for more if and when you are in fact hungry for more.
Pregnancy should be about you and your baby, not about restricting your intake to flaunt the latest vogue, be it crop tops or jeggings below your bump. Because if we aren’t careful, pregnancy could become one of the many factors that trigger an eating disorder, which would be an absolute waste of one of the most magical aspects of being a woman.
As there are risks to restricting your intake, there are equal risks to over-consuming during pregnancy. Just so you know, I was told I had gained too much weight during a few weigh-ins during both pregnancies. (FYI, they don’t weigh pregnant women in Europe).
In my case, I knew I couldn’t eat less. I was active during both pregnancies and practiced Pilates and yoga until right before I delivered. I ate carbs, proteins and fats, gaining about 37 pounds in the process. During each pregnancy, I carried differently, felt differently and gained the weight at different times.
The result? Today, I’m fortunate to have two healthy boys. They weighed about 6.12 pounds each at birth. I lost the weight slowly over a nine-month period for my first boy, while the second pregnancy took longer—about 12 months to lose the weight and another 6 months to get my tummy toned again. You don’t need to eat without regard, but you definitely need to be mindful of how you nourish, honor and work with whatever changes your body endures during and after pregnancy.
Ironically, I bumped into a colleague last week—a physician. She is pregnant with her second child and this time gained 60 pounds and developed gestational diabetes. So you see, we are all susceptible to certain health conditions during pregnancy.
When people ask me how much I gained during my pregnancies because they feel guilty about having gained more than their friends or certain celebrities, I tell them that they need to recognize that their body and baby is their ultimate responsibility. Moms: Don’t feel pressured to be a super skinny during your pregnancy. Enjoy this 9 to 10 month period that you will never get back. Feed yourself moderately and love your body. Pregnancy can be one of the most special periods in your life if you embrace it. And if you really don’t enjoy being pregnant, that’s OK as well. Just make sure you feed yourself appropriately throughout.