Pregnant & Overweight: Coping with the Anxieties of Pregnancy
“You’re pregnant, you have an excuse!” says every person you meet during your pregnancy, as you constantly battle the desire for cravings. Whether it’s wanting an extra side of french fries, ice cream every night, sleeping in and being late to work, or just getting out of plans, pregnancy claims to be the perfect excuse when women just want to indulge.
Yes, of course, it is important to listen to your body, rest when your body tells you that you need to rest, and eat when your belly feels empty (especially in those early days of pregnancy nausea). However, it is just as important to make the right and healthy choices not just for you, but for your baby. Frankly, there is no better time in a woman’s life to live a balanced and healthy lifestyle than when you are pregnant, with a little bit of luxury of course.
Healthy Weight Gain During Pregnancy
Weight gain is inevitable during pregnancy. In order for another human being to grow inside of your body, you will have to accept the fact that your body will undergo some major changes. All of which will be significant and short-lived, and should be viewed as a natural and beautiful time in a woman’s life. Weight gain is one of the most obvious changes to a woman’s body during pregnancy. The total weight gain is slightly different per individual depending on what your weight was before getting pregnant. According to The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists:
- Average weight before pregnancy: 25-35 pound weight gain
- Underweight before pregnancy: 28-40 pound weight gain
- Overweight before pregnancy: 15-25 pound weight gain
- Obese before pregnancy: 11-20 pound weight gain
On average, women should gain 2-4 pounds total during the first trimester of their pregnancy. During the remainder of the pregnancy, women should gain about 1 pound per week. However, this is an average and there could be some weeks where you gain more or less than the other weeks. In the end, it all balances out.
The recommended amount of weight gain during pregnancy may seem like a lot of weight to be gained in less than one year, however, when broken down, it makes a lot of sense where all of those extra pounds are going. WebMD categorizes the weight distributions as follows:
- Baby: 8 pounds
- Placenta: 2-3 pounds
- Amniotic fluid: 2-3 pounds
- Breast tissue: 2-3 pounds
- Blood supply: 4 pounds
- Stored fat for delivery and breastfeeding: 5-9 pounds
- Larger uterus: 2-5 pounds
- Total: 25-35 pounds
The Importance of Nutritious Food While Pregnant
Nutrients are what help to enable a fetus to develop and grow from a bundle of cells into a full-term baby. It would be impossible for this rapid growth over the course of nine months to happen without the intake of food. Consuming a healthy balanced diet of fruits, vegetables, and protein is essential to the health of both baby and mommy. Sometimes, however, women can give in to the temptation of cravings and other unhealthy food choices while pregnant.
Why Do We Give into Cravings?
A once health-nut-focused and exercise fanatic can turn into an overindulgent junk food-eating woman with the gift of pregnancy. It sounds extreme, but it can be a lot easier than you think given the factors that contribute to feeling the need to make less than choice food judgment calls while pregnant. In addition to the naturally occurring pregnancy hormones, a heightened state of emotions can cloud decision-making skills during the nine pregnant months. Some of these emotions may include:
- Excitement and joy
- Stress and worry – When and Where it’s going to happen
- Fear of the unknown
- Irritability – Shortness with the ones you love
- Sadness – Ups and Downs
- No time to prepare a healthy meal
- Feelings of being deserving
Anxiety During Pregnancy
Many of the above-listed emotions are descriptors of anxiety during pregnancy. Stress, worry, and fear in particular are textbook characteristics of anxiety. It is only natural that all of the changes to your life and your body, that will eventually affect your mind. Trying to control your thoughts and feelings and turning any negative or worrisome concerns into positive and joyful thoughts are not only healthy for you but especially for your baby.
What Gaining Weight Does to a Pregnant Woman’s Mind
Women are perceptive. And for that reason, women are constantly aware of the judgments and opinions of others. Whether they admit it or not, women care about what others think and say of them, especially when it comes to body image. This is why weight gain during pregnancy can be a particularly touchy topic. With the inevitability of weight gain during pregnancy, some women may find themselves dealing with the insecurities of self-image and feeling fat. Women may become:
- Sad about the way they look
- Annoyed about their physical discomforts
- Worried about their bodies bouncing back post-baby
- Nervous about ever looking and feeling like themselves again
- Constantly worried about what others think about them
Tips for Controlling Pregnancy Anxiety & Weight Gain
It is important to remember that everything about your body during pregnancy is temporary. Try some of the following tips to help keep any anxieties you might be experiencing at bay in order to keep yourself healthy for both you and your baby!
- Go to sleep early to feel rested in the morning
- Keep healthy snacks on hand in your purse
- Keep a water bottle with you at all times
- Sign up for a birth class with your partner to ease your fears about childbirth
- Sign up for a newborn class with your partner to learn the basics of bringing the baby home
- Talk to other moms or pregnant women about your worries
- Talk to your doctor
- If you do not have anyone close who can relate or help with support, reach out to a professional to help talk about your feelings and concerns