One of the things my husband and I write about in the weight loss world is how people in general tend to focus on the symptom of weight loss/gain rather than the overall problem: not focusing on overall health and wellness. Those poor souls get so laser-focused on losing 10 pounds or fitting into a certain size that they never even stop to think about the overall health of their bodies, and how that might be causing the symptom of weight gain.
Weight Gain (Or Lack Of) is a Symptom of Health in Pregnancy
I am finding that this carries over into the world of pregnancy as well. Doctors and their patients seem to be focused on how much weight they are gaining rather than the overall health of their bodies and their babies. As in the fitness world, they look at other women and compare themselves and their size and use that as a measuring stick for themselves (if you read my updates, you know I’m guilty of this at times). They become so fixated on the number on a scale, on calories, on size; and their doctors don’t help by scolding them over what is considered “excess” weight gain (or lack of) rather than taking a look at their overall food intake and activity level. Nutrition is disregarded as a minute detail rather than being the main focus, as it should be.
Unfortunately, most doctors in this country have become so accustomed to treating symptoms with medicine and never addressing the real issue. For example, if someone who is overweight or obese goes to the typical doctor for a check-up and is found to have high cholesterol, pre-diabetic symptoms, or high blood pressure, most doctors skip right over the problem that brought this person here in the first place. They say “You’re overweight. Lose weight and take these pills for your blood pressure”. They, too act as though just being overweight is the problem. Imagine how much the health of our country would improve if doctors treated obesity with nutritional counseling or referrals rather than a pill.
Just like in regular medicine, obstetrics treats pregnant women the same way. A woman who has gained too much weight may come down with pre-eclampsia (high blood pressure). But it’s not the weight gain that caused the pre-eclampsia, it’s the low-quality food and lack of exercise, and too much weight gain is just another symptom. But most doctors will simply tell the patient to slow down their weight gain (band-aid) without ever addressing why they gained too much weight in the first place. This expecting mother may cut her calories but never address the foods she is actually eating, and ends up in the hospital on bed-rest anyways.
For a comprehensive guide to a fit and healthy pregnancy, pick up a copy of my ebook – Fit To Be Pregnant: 12 Steps to the Healthy, Comfortable, and Fit Pregnancy of Your Dreams available on Amazon!
Healthy Weight Gain is a Side Effect of Good Nutrition and Self-Care
Our bodies are amazing. They were built to have babies. As Ina May Gaskin likes to say, your body is not a lemon. Just because your weight gain doesn’t align with some doctor’s or pregnancy association’s chart doesn’t mean you are doing it wrong.
In a healthy pregnancy, weight gain does not matter nearly as much as the nutrition and exercise that goes into it. If you are eating the right amount of nutrients each day and eating whole, nutrient-rich foods and staying active, your body will go into auto-pilot and you will put on the exact right amount of weight that you and your baby need.
Maybe this is 15 pounds. Maybe this is 60 pounds. Everyone is different. Do not let some chart, number, doctor, mother, or scale tell you otherwise.
The right amount of weight to gain during pregnancy is the amount you gain when you give your body and your baby the nutrients it needs, avoid foods that can harm (like processed and low-nutrient, high-calorie foods), and stay active enough to feel good and strong. It’s that simple.
So what does that look like?
- Get 80-100g of protein every single day from lean meat, legumes, nuts, whole grains, yogurt.
- Eat at least 5 servings of vegetables, at least 2-3 of those servings leafy greens, every day.
- Eat 2-3 servings (medium sized piece) of fruit each day.
- Eat 2-3 servings (1-2 tablespoons) of healthy fat every day.
- Drink 2-3L of water.
- Get your heart rate up for 30 minutes to an hour each day with physical activity.