Weight Gain During Pregnancy – Is it REALLY The Most Important Thing?

As a woman who has been pregnant five times (miscarrying once and carrying twins during another pregnancy), I can say firsthand that the routine weigh-ins during pregnancy exams can often be – no ARE – the most stressful part of the visit. Here you are at the 10 week mark, excited and giddy about carrying a baby, and your health care provider wants to chastise you because according to a chart, or estimate – you have gained 2.6 pounds more than you should have by that point. Or, as you are lumbering in at the 32 week mark, so big that you cannot see your feet, your provider makes a remark that you might need to be super careful during the last few weeks not to gain too much more weight – lest you be overweight after delivery.

Yes, we get it. As pregnant women, we get that monitoring our weight is an ultra important way in monitoring the health of the baby inside us, and ensures that we are taking care of ourselves as well. We also get that according to a host of pregnancy authorities, we should only gain an average of 35ish pounds during pregnancy. And yes, we have also heard all the warnings that losing the baby weight post delivery can be much harder than we think it is. Blah. Blah. Blah.

Unfortunately, weight gain during pregnancy is unavoidable. One of the things you know going into your pregnancy is that you are going to gain weight. And while modern science has debunked the ‘eating for two’ myth that makes many women finally feel it is acceptable to have that second helping of ice cream (or steak), women shouldn’t be so ultra focused on the pounds they are putting on that they feel bad about their blossoming bodies, or stressed about how they are going to lose the weight afterwards.

The focus during pregnancy should be on overall health and wellbeing.

The quality of foods that we put into our body should be nutrient rich in order to feed our baby’s needs and our own needs. Each woman is different, and will gain weight differently. Some will gain weight fast in the beginning and level out during the pregnancy.  Other women will hardly gain a pound until the 4 or 5 month mark. Some women gain 50+ pounds during pregnancy, while others only gain 15. At the end of the day, it is the overall health of your body, and of your baby, that matters. While your health care provider means well by weighing you in like a contestant on The Biggest Loser and you shouldn’t be metaphorically eating for two, each woman has a different metabolic rate and a different inherent definition of normal. Additionally, you will find that your weight gain will vary from one pregnancy to the next.

There is already so much pressure on women when it comes to meeting the expectation of a specific number on a scale, that pregnancy should not be a time for women to stress about the weight gain. Pregnancy should not be mistaken as a time to ‘feel fat’ or to be uncomfortable with your body (especially since it is doing such a beautiful thing), or to play into your insecurities about the size of your clothes. It should be a time of finally realizing just how amazing your body is and how intricately you, as a woman, are designed.

Personally speaking, during my third pregnancy, I refused to look at the scale when I was weighed. I would step on without slipping off my shoes, close my eyes, and tell my nurse that I didn’t want to know how much I weighed. I felt that the stress of ‘that number’ was just not worth my time or worry, as long as my baby and I were progressing healthily.

Written By Stef, Mother of 4 @Mom-Spirational

This information is not intended to replace the advice of a trained medical doctor. Health & Parenting Ltd disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information, which is provided to you on a general information basis only and not as a substitute for personalized medical advice. All contents copyright © Health & Parenting Ltd 2018. All rights reserved.

Gaining Too Little Weight During Pregnancy

It is important to gain weight during pregnancy. Not only are you housing a developing baby, but also a brand new organ (the placenta), 50% more blood than usual, some amniotic fluid, and a few extra pounds to keep your baby sustained during breastfeeding. You may worry you are gaining too little weight during pregnancy, and be looking for ways to pile on the pounds.

How much weight should I put on during pregnancy?

This depends on your pre-pregnancy weight, and is calculated using your BMI. If you don’t know your pre-pregnancy BMI, your healthcare provider will calculate one for you at your first appointment. If your BMI is:

  • 18.4 or less – you are considered to be underweight, and should aim to put on between 28 and 40 lbs by the end of the pregnancy
  • 18.5 – 24.9 – you’re in the healthy range and should aim to put on between 25 and 35 lbs by the end of the pregnancy
  • 25 or over – you are considered to be overweight, and should aim to put on between 11 and 20 lbs during pregnancy

Your healthcare provider is best placed to offer you advice about weight gain, and will consider your full medical history when giving advice.

Gaining too little weight during pregnancy

There are many reasons why some women find it difficult to put weight on during pregnancy, including:

  • sickness and nausea – extreme morning sickness and nausea can actually cause some women to gain weight. If you are finding it difficult to keep food down, speak to your healthcare provider for advice. Make sure you stay hydrated, continue to take your daily prenatal vitamin, and try to eat when you feel you can.
  • metabolism – you may find that your body is simply too efficient at burning fat.
  • body image issues – if you suffer from food-related body image issues, you may find the idea of putting weight on during pregnancy upsetting. In fact, you may find yourself avoiding putting weight on for this reason. You may require support to deal with this during pregnancy, so speak to your healthcare provider immediately.

How to increase weight gain

To increase your weight gain, you could try:

  • eating more food – it could simply be that you’re not eating enough, so try eating more of the foods you enjoy. Remember, you should be eating a healthy, balanced diet during pregnancy, so keep choosing fresh foods and vegetables. Make sure you snack between meal times, and eat whenever you feel hungry.
  • eat more fatty foods – avocados, nuts and coconut oil are all healthy fatty foods. Increase the amount of these foods in your diet, and you may find it becomes easier to gain a few pounds, without eating unhealthy processed foods. Cooking with coconut oil, eating peanut butter on toast before bed, and having an avocado as your mid-morning snack are all tasty and healthy ways to increase the fat in your diet.
  • slow down – don’t stop exercising altogether, but if you’re a bit of a gym bunny, you may need to cut back a bit. Staying fit and active during pregnancy is important, and there are lots of benefits to exercise during pregnancy, but you also need to make sure you are able to gain weight. Keep exercising, but reduce the frequency, duration or intensity of your workout.

When to seek help

Your healthcare provider wants to support you through pregnancy, and this includes offering advice and support about weight gain. If you are worried that you haven’t gained enough weight, talk to your healthcare provider who will be able to offer tailored advice to help you gain weight. Gaining too little weight during pregnancy can increase the chances of pregnancy complications, low birth weight and, perhaps surprisingly, childhood obesity, so it is important to seek help early.

Are you struggling with weight gain this pregnancy?

Written by Fiona, proud owner of a toddler, @fiona_peacock

This information is not intended to replace the advice of a trained medical doctor. Health & Parenting Ltd disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information, which is provided to you on a general information basis only and not as a substitute for personalized medical advice. All contents copyright © Health & Parenting Ltd 2018. All rights reserved.

Preventing Stretch Marks During Pregnancy

As if the thought of ‘morning’ sickness and constant aches is not enough a source of tension for women during pregnancy, the idea of stretch marks appearing all over your body is another thing you may dread. Stretch marks are purple or blue venous skin marks that appear on the belly, thighs, buttocks, arms, and breasts of women during or after pregnancy. These marks are a result of torn collagen and are caused when the skin is stretched during this time.

Now you may be thinking of the countless celebrities that recently had babies, but have NO stretch marks! Don’t worry, you don’t have to be a celebrity or be rolling around in money to avoid getting these marks. (Theirs were probably digitally manipulated out of the photo anyway!) A few simple tips will help you have better skin.

Are Stretch Marks Dangerous?

No, there is nothing dangerous if you have stretch marks on your body. They won’t cause you any severe pain but they might be slightly itchy for some women. The marks, however, might not go away after your delivery. In some cases when the collagen damage is not severe, these marks fade away naturally with time after pregnancy, but not in all cases.

Does Every Woman Get Stretch Marks?

Most women get stretch marks during pregnancy. The biggest factor that can make these marks appear is your genetic make-up. If women on your maternal side of the family have a history of getting these marks during pregnancy, you are at a higher risk of getting them too.

Another common reason that causes stretch marks to appear is your weight gain during pregnancy. If you gain too much weight or you gain weight too rapidly, there are more chances of stretch marks appearing due to the high strain it puts on your skin.

How to Prevent Stretch Marks During Pregnancy

Taking preventive measures can help you prevent stretch marks from appearing, or may help you control them so you can treat them later. Let’s see how you can have beautiful and stretch-mark-free skin:

  • Dry skin is more prone to getting stretched so you should keep yourself hydrated. Drink a lot of water and take fluids in order to keep your skin hydrated.
  • Keep your skin moisturized using skin lotion or cocoa butter. This will not only keep your skin soft and flexible but, also prevents itching.
  • Consume a healthy diet that keeps your skin healthy. Foods that are rich in vitamins and essential fatty acids are good for the skin and the replacement of damaged collagen.
  • Watch your weight carefully throughout the pregnancy.

If no amount of intervention helps, be proud of your stretch marks – they are a badge of motherhood!

Written by Manal, first time mom and writer.

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This information is not intended to replace the advice of a trained medical doctor. Health & Parenting Ltd disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information, which is provided to you on a general information basis only and not as a substitute for personalized medical advice.  All contents copyright © Health & Parenting Ltd 2017. All rights reserved.

How to Deal With a Changing Body During Pregnancy

So, you were feeling nauseous, you missed a period and you decided it’s time to take a pregnancy test. Now, with the two pink stripes clearly visible on the test, congratulations are in order. You are pregnant, and you are going to go through one of the most significant experiences of your life. While you are on this roller coaster ride, not only is your life about to change, but so is your body.

After you get pregnant, your body goes through a number of changes, not just externally but internally as well. There is much more to these changes than a bloated body and swollen feet, and before you decide how to deal with a changing body during pregnancy, you first need to understand what they actually are and why they happen in the first place.

Common Body Changes During Pregnancy

Here are some common changes that take place inside your body during pregnancy:

  • You start growing a completely new organ inside – the placenta. This organ starts developing roughly a week after conception to form a protective barrier around your baby that stops your blood from mixing with the baby’s blood, while allowing the oxygen and nutrients to get through. The placenta also excretes hormones that support pregnancy and prepare your body for nursing.
  • During pregnancy, your body starts releasing a hormone called relaxin, that is known to soften and loosen bones and ligaments. While this makes it easier for you to go through labor, it also affect other parts of your body, resulting in back aches and swollen feet.
  • During pregnancy, the hormones in your body also affect spatial memory, making you forget what you were doing just minutes before.
  • By the time you reach the 20th week of your pregnancy, you are carrying around 50% more blood than before, which is required by the body to nourish the pregnancy. This excessive blood is the reason behind varicose veins, nosebleeds and hemorrhoids experienced by some women at this time. The extra circulation also gives you the famous pregnancy “glow.” So don’t hate it, embrace it!

Ways to deal with a changing body during pregnancy

The best way to deal with your changing pregnant body is to keep a positive attitude towards it, no matter what others say. Remember that this is one of the best experiences of your life, a miracle is about to happen and all the changes that your body is experiencing are for the good.

Staying active is another way to maintain control over your body. Try to make a regular exercise regimen, go for a short walk or take a swim. In the advanced stages of pregnancy, swimming is one of the best ways to stay active. Yoga is another way you can cope with your changing body.

Don’t feel helpless, because you are not (contrary to the popular belief). While it is true that you cannot completely control the changes in your body during pregnancy, letting go completely can make things worse for you. Consume a healthy, controlled diet, and exercise regularly so that you don’t become overweight.

Lastly, talk to people about your changing body and your concerns, especially your partner and other women who have gone through pregnancy. They can help you maintain a positive attitude about your body during pregnancy.

Written by Team Health & Parenting

This information is not intended to replace the advice of a trained medical doctor. Health & Parenting Ltd disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information, which is provided to you on a general information basis only and not as a substitute for personalized medical advice. All contents copyright © Health & Parenting Ltd 2017. All rights reserved.