MS, RD, LDN
Janel holds a Master’s in Nutrition Communication from Tufts University. As the recipient of the 2010 Massachusetts Young Dietitian of the Year award, she believes in making healthy eating simple, sustainable, and delicious.
While some women rejoice in the ability to eat more
while they’re pregnant and watch the scale numbers grow up as their baby bump
grows, others may have a fear of weight gain during pregnancy and take measures
to prevent normal weight gain. It could stem from a history of disordered
eating, past weight loss success that they don’t want to “ruin,” the influence
of celebrities who are touted for staying slim while pregnant, or any other
number of reasons.
It is important to recognize and accept that your
body can and should go through changes as it supports a growing baby, baby’s
own nutrient stores and development. Inadequate weight gain could increase the
risk of having a baby pre-term or at low birth weight, in addition to other
possible issues such as breathing or digestive problems, and a mother’s
inability to produce adequate milk once the baby is born.
For some women, their fear of weight gain could stem
from past eating disorders and cause them to resurface during pregnancy.
Excessive dieting and exercise is not only dangerous outside of pregnancy, but
also potentially harmful when you’re pregnant or trying to get pregnant. Even
with no history of body image issues or disordered eating, some women can feel
alarmed by reaching a weight they may never have seen before. Focusing on the
needs of the baby instead of your own can help redirect your thoughts when you
feel out of control with your changing body and weight gain. If it’s helpful,
stay off the scale and have your doctor weigh you at appointments without you
seeing the number. If you usually exercise, speak to your doctor about a safe
fitness regimen that can help you feel good about yourself without overdoing
If weight gain fears are a constant
source of stress and anxiety, seek out the help of a mental health professional
to work on self acceptance and overcoming any weight-related fears either
before becoming pregnant or during pregnancy. You may also benefit from joining
a pregnancy group, either in person or online, to speak openly about your
concerns and get support from others.
“Health Tips for Pregnant Women.” National Institutes of Health. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, date accessed July 28, 2018. <https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/weight-management/health-tips-pregnant-women>
“Research Weighs in on Weight Gain during Pregnancy.” National Institutes of Health. National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, date accessed July 28, 2018. <https://www.nichd.nih.gov/news/resources/spotlight/082813-pregnancy-weight>
“Pregnancy and birth: Weight gain in pregnancy.” National Institutes of Health. US National Library of Medicine, date accessed July 28, 2018. <https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0072759/>