If you’re not feeling very good about your pregnancy weight gain, you aren’t alone. Opening up on dealing with body image and weight gain during pregnancy.
I have a tendency to remove myself from the equation of my blogging and not get super personal (I don’t know – do you want to hear what I did last weekend?!). But, I wanted to get real talking about dealing with pregnancy weight gain because I’m a human, too, which means I’m not perfect and I have to manage insecurities with uncertainty just as much as the next person.
Dealing with Pregnancy Weight Gain
As a little bit of background, I used to have body image issues. Not exactly standing-in-front-of-the-mirror-and-grabbing-my-thighs-repeatedly-for-hours type of body issues, but my sisters are taller and very slender, and I’ve always been built more athletic and curvy. I’ve been a strong athlete, which I’ve loved all the things my body can do, but sure I thought about how my body shape was different. Probably starting at about age 24 I really began to work on my relationship with my body and since then it’s been years since I can remember hanging onto any negative thoughts about my shape. Until pregnancy.Negative thoughts about #pregnancy #weight gain can get the best of us. Insights on managing a positive body image. Click To Tweet
Yesterday I had a total breakdown. It’s the only real breakdown I’ve had during pregnancy (aside from the miscarriage breakdown(s)/grief earlier this year).
The trigger? I stepped on the scale. And I had gained another 8 pounds in a month. Which might not have been a huge deal except I gained 10 pounds in October, which completely freaked me out (literally, I thought the scale was broken), so I put forth every best healthy effort in November to make sure my weight gain stayed on track. Yesterday was another check-up day… so I woke up, weighed myself, then crawled back in bed and cried.
I Learned That You Have Limited Control Over Pregnancy Weight Gain
You see, when I first got pregnant again after my miscarriage I wrote this blog post on how much weight you should gain during pregnancy, and I had this perfect plan that I would gain the exact recommended amount (on the lower end of course). But, it turns out I’m 24 weeks along and I’ve gained 26 pounds – that only leaves me another 9 pounds total I should gain within the next 15 or 16 weeks just to stay on the upper end of recommended weight gain.
So yesterday I got really, really frustrated. Because in November there was only one week I worked out 5 days instead of 6. Because in November I tried even harder to eat mostly good foods. I mean I even made chocolate chip cookies on Sunday for my family and I only ate half of one – that’s basically criminal! And in November I still gained 8 pounds.
Would It Still Be Worth it if the Scale Never Moved Again?
After my morning meltdown I went to my favorite gym class, and as I was putting my weights away I felt the tears coming on.
This tape in my head started reeling: I’m not as fast as I used to be. It takes longer for my heart rate to come down after speed work. My range of motion is more limited. Exercise is so uncomfortable now. And oh my gosh – since when is back fat spilling over this sports bra? Then the thought… “I am trying so hard and clearly nothing is helping. Maybe there’s not even a point.”
And then it hit me like a brick wall. I have said exactly these words to my clients before, “If the scale never moved again, would everything you’re doing still be worth it?”
Suddenly I snapped back. Of course. Of course it’s still worth it. And in my case, of course I’m not trying to lose weight, I just wanted to stay on track because I don’t want to harm baby by increasing any risks for preeclampsia or gestational diabetes and… let’s be real, I’m not a huge fan of my more curvaceous body right now (which my family pointed out to me twice over Thanksgiving – thank you, I am aware 🙄).
Of course it’s still worth it, because despite how the scale moves during pregnancy I know that I feel good when I do things that are good for my body.
(PS – If you’ve found this article helpful, you might like this blog post on “What I Learned From Gaining (Way) Too Much Weight in Pregnancy” I wrote after I delivered Baby T. I gained a total of 51 lbs during my pregnancy, and it wasn’t for lack of trying.)
How to Manage Negative Feelings During Pregnancy Weight Gain
Here’s what I’m doing now to keep negative thoughts at bay as my body keeps changing and baby girl keeps growing:
- I’m not weighing myself anymore. Instead, on appointment days I asked my husband to take a backwards standing scale weight (I turn around backwards so I can’t see it) and write it in a separate log for me to see after baby comes. He’ll also write it on a folded piece of paper for me to give to my nurse.
- I’ll keep exercising most days of the week and eating mostly good-for-me foods. Despite what happens with the scale, I know that I feel good about myself when I fuel my body right and keep it moving.
- I’m reminding myself often of the miracle. I will never forget the shock and pain of miscarriage after no signs or symptoms of problems, and the surreal feeling signing the paperwork in the surgery center waiting for my D&C. I recognize the massive trials my friends going through IVF or adoption experience. Supporting life is nothing short of a miracle.
- I’m leaning on my support group of close friends and family. I talked to a handful of my close friends and family about their experiences with weight gain during pregnancy. It turns out that first of all, a lot of people gain over the recommended amount and have a healthy baby (weight gain recommendations are made based off a bell curve). Secondly, these feelings are definitely not uncommon during pregnancy.
- Lastly, I talked to my healthcare provider about my concerns and any potential risks to baby. My doctor (who I love!) observes that most women follow a “lazy S” in their weight gain. That is: not very much weight gain first trimester, steep gain during second trimester, and then it tapers off third trimester. He accounts for about a pound per week of gestation, which technically has me two pounds over the projected weight gain (though I’m measuring a few days early), which is negligible.
All in all, I’ve learned some valuable lessons. I learned that you actually have fairly limited control over exactly how much and when you gain weight during pregnancy, despite trying to do “everything right.” And I learned that if you’ve had a negative relationship with your body image in the past, those feelings can circle back during pregnancy.
Just like with all negative behaviors and negative self-talk, we have the chance to choose. We can take a step back to gain perspective, recognize what the trigger was for our reaction, and write a new script for ourselves moving forward.
Although this isn’t a “research-based” post, I hope – as always – this is helpful in some way!
Have you dealt with negative self-talk during pregnancy?
How have you kept your cool as your body changes during pregnancy?
Disclosures: None. This post was not created in partnership with any product or brand.