I know, I know, we all get sick and tired of thinking about our weight, complaining about our weight, obsessing about our weight, and during pregnancy is the one time we won’t, don't, shouldn’t have to worry about it, right? WRONG. My sister Skyped me a couple nights ago to say that someone had told her that the average pregnant woman only needs an extra 200-300 calories a day, and did I know that? Well, when I didn’t Skype her back (I was asleep – it was well past my normal pregnancy bedtime of 8:30), she worried that I got so pissed at her raising the issue of how much I should eat during pregnancy that I’d decided not to ever speak to her again. Seriously. It is that big an issue for many of us.
I’m not going to lie – my pregnancy weight gain stories have been pretty melodramatic, from the pregnancy where I gained 25 pounds by my first 8-week appointment (pregnancy #1 – I gained 90 pounds in all), to the one where I gained a mere 40 pounds (I weighed myself daily and worked out 5 days a week). I have run the full spectrum between not giving a single rat’s patootie to being borderline obsessive compulsive.
Last time I checked, we moms begin worrying the moment we pee on the stick. Is it really two lines? Is the second line too faint to really count? Will I miscarry? Should I have the amnio? Should I tell my boss? Will my husband still find me attractive? Will he mind if I don’t want sex? Will I be a good mom? Do we have enough money saved? Enough stuff for the nursery? Did I pick the right nanny/day care? Should I stay home with my kids? Will they welcome me back into the workforce if I take time off to be a mom? Will my kids resent me if I don’t? And on and on and on…So, do the doctors really have to add this little nugget into the mix, something over which many of us have so little control, especially when more than half of us are puking our guts up and just happy to eat whatever we can keep down and the rest of us are wishing we would puke already because we just spend the entire day feeling like we’re going to and eating is the only thing that seems to take away the nausea?
What I have come to believe is that as mothers, whether seasoned or first-time newbies, we have enough to worry about without adding some arbitrary guidelines about something we may have little control over into the mix.
Let’s take the 200-300 calories guideline, for example. I don’t know about you guys, but when I’m in my normal every day mode, I’m generally pretty diligent about how I’m eating and exercising. That means, I’m dieting. Pretty much all the time. OK, that’s not for everyone, I know. It’s not something I’m proud of, but I’m just being honest. So, what I want to know is, when they say 200-300 extra calories, one would assume that’s on top of the regular maintenance caloric range of 2000 calories a day, not the Liimu-I’ve-been-dieting-since-I-was-9 caloric range of 1500-1600 calories a day. So, that means that by their standards I should be averaging between 2200-2300 calories a day. That’s significantly more than I’m used to, and about where I’ve been landing (at least since we entered the 2nd trimester and I stopped feeling like Sigourney Weaver in alien, except in my case the alien was going to gnaw it’s way through to the outside of my stomach, rather than popping out in a dramatic, scary burst).
And how about the guidelines around weight gain? I just read something today that said I should have gained about 5 pounds by now. Hopefully, they mean give or take 15 pounds. Seriously, though, I read a post on one of the pregnancy boards by a woman who weighed less than 110 pounds pre-pregnancy and when she went to her doctor for her 12-week checkup she had gained 6 pounds. He completely chastised her, saying for her entire pregnancy she should only gain 23 pounds. Where the hell did he get THAT arbitrary number? Honestly, there’s a part of me that feels like there should be a prerequisite for OB/GYNs to make commentary on the weight gain of their patients, unless they’ve been pregnant themselves or have seen their wives through at least three pregnancies. Otherwise, it should be like in the doctor’s office. You can not say anything derogatory or stress-inducing about the pregnant woman’s weight without a qualified nurse in the room, and by qualified, I mean she’s had a baby.
I’ve had three children, and have gained 90 pounds, 40 pounds and 65 pounds with them, in that order. Ironically, my first child just turned 8 years old and is nearly 5 feet tall and wears women’s size 8 shoes. She gets her incredible height from her dad and she’s not the slightest bit overweight. As for my second daughter, the nearly 7-year old with whom I gained the “ideal” amount of weight? A peanut. She’s in the 25th percentile and is barely an inch taller than her not-quite-4 year old sister. Not sure if there’s a correlation there, but I certainly intend to keep my eye on it. If this baby is tall enough to qualify for the NBA by the time he starts high school, I’ll get my answer.
And by the way, when I got pregnant with this child, I was within 5 pounds of my pre-first pregnancy weight, just like my mommy friends who gained 20-25 pounds with their pregnancies. My body knows what to do. It’s proven that time and time again. I’ve never had gestational diabetes, high blood pressure, preeclampsia or any other weight-related issues with my pregnancies and my children are happy and healthy.
Last time I checked, that was really what matters the most.