Weight gain in pregnancy can be scary, but there are valuable lessons to be learned out of your comfort zone.
I’m six weeks postpartum and I thought I’d share another more personal post. You might remember my blog post in October on dealing with weight gain during pregnancy. I’m dishing on exactly how much weight I gained and the five most valuable lessons I learned.
How Much Weight I Gained
I would have never believed you if you told me I would gain over 50 pounds during pregnancy – 51 pounds to be exact. To be completely honest, I had a pre-conceived notion that if you gained “too much” (compared to the guidelines) weight during pregnancy, you probably were eating too much and not moving enough. I didn’t know then that 50-73% of women gain outside the weight recommendations, either too much or too little. Well, then it was me… and I tried. Hard.
I Tried Hard
One of my girlfriends was just a few days ahead of me in pregnancy (BTW total life saver!! Find someone who’s due around your same time!). We chatted all the time about trying to stay active and making nutritious food choices (also the less glamorous things like you should probably get Depends for when you leave the hospital – real talk – and all things baby products). But, try as I might there were definitely some hard and unanticipated things about exercise and proper nutrition and how my body changed.
Lesson #1: It’s not necessarily “your fault” you gained more weight than you “should” have. Your body’s going to do what it needs to do for baby.
I worked out almost every day and did my best to eat mostly good-for-you foods (more on that later) throughout pregnancy.
I exercised pretty intensely 5+ days a week until the last weeks of pregnancy, where I scaled down to walking 3+ days a week. I was able to run sprints halfway through second trimester, do box jumps until 28 weeks, and circuit training classes until 35 weeks. I lifted weights up until the last week or two before delivery. Bottom line, it didn’t matter.
It actually did matter in terms of how I felt, how I felt about myself, and keeping my body healthy for baby, but the work I put in the gym department and trying to eat my veggies didn’t seem to nudge the scale. Who knows, maybe the weight gain would have been more if I didn’t keep moving and eat baby carrots, but my health in other areas that couldn’t exactly be “measured” was more important to me than what the scale said so I kept moving along.
Lesson #2: Your hormones will play tricks on your emotions.
Honestly at the end of pregnancy, I felt like baby had kicked me out of my body (it was hers now!) and that the woman in all the pictures around my house was a stranger. It was a weird feeling. Your hormones can play tricks on how you feel about yourself, how you feel about your body and your self-worth. It’s humbling to ask your husband to tie your shoes for you and skip out on that bike ride because your legs hit your belly now. It’s not glamorous to cross your legs every time you cough or sneeze for fear peeing your pants (wait, am I 5 years old again?!). It’s not particularly fun to wear flip flops to church when it’s 35° outside and look a little disrespectful propping your feet up on a chair for all three hours because you have awful swelling and pitting edema. It will pass and that much-more-comfortable girl in those pictures is still inside – you get to meet her again in just a short while!
Lesson #3: Your food cravings and food aversions don’t care what you normally eat.
Probably a half a dozen times I went to Schlotzky’s and got a kids cheese pizza. Yep. Kids cheese pizza. Oh and I hated cooked vegetables from about halfway through first trimester to halfway through second trimester. So, salads it was! And then there was that one time first trimester I ate an entire box of chocolate-peanut butter Puffins cereal in about 24 hours. Those are all real stories.
It didn’t matter that I actually really love roasted vegetables, or that I prefer salmon, that I don’t usually snack between meals or that I prefer a more balanced breakfast. What mattered was that I actually almost threw up if I ate something that sounded bad to me at the time.
The good news is, the cravings and aversions calm down. What you can do is do the best you can with what you are able to tolerate. Not every meal is so crazy. Unfortunately, spilling everything on yourself doesn’t stop until after delivery, hah!
Lesson #4: You can feel incredibly grateful and miserably uncomfortable at the same time, and that’s ok.
Just because you are extremely grateful for the opportunity to carry a healthy baby does not necessarily negate your experience of physical or emotional hardships like being uncomfortable (like… REALLY uncomfortable), sleeping terribly, sitting sideways because your belly doesn’t fit under the table, having a bottomless bladder, urinary incontinence, literally feeling fluids sloshing in your feet or any other symptom you might encounter. Of course you know it is every bit of worth it, but it’s alright to have a few meltdown moments and then pick yourself back up.
Lesson #5: You are never alone.
Don’t sweat it. If you are feeling down during pregnancy you aren’t alone. You aren’t crazy for feeling that way.
Letting Go of Control & Postpartum Weight Loss
I think the best thing I did during my pregnancy was stop stressing. I just worried about doing me – keep exercising, keep eating as well as I could. If it wasn’t perfect, it was going to be alright.
I also set myself up to recognize that hey, maybe this is my new body. It took almost 10 months to put all the weight on. It’s not going to come off overnight, and that’s okay.
Every Body is Different
Every body is different. Every pregnancy is different. Every postpartum experience is different. In my case, for this pregnancy, I had an insane amount of swelling. I lost over 25 pounds in 10 days after delivery.
I still have a line down my belly (linea negra), my tummy’s more squishy than it’s ever been, I wore maternity jeans postpartum until a week or two ago, and my chest can’t fit into anything with buttons right now, and that’s all okay! I have a healthy, happy baby, and I’ve had a healthy recovery so far. The rest will happen when it happens (I’m following the principles in my Plan Your Plate Guide with increased calories for breastfeeding), and if it’s not “exactly” how it was pre-pregnancy, this little girl was worth it and I’d do it all a thousand times over again.
If you plan to breastfeed, you might want to check out this blog post here – I share how it’s not as easy as it seems (hellllooo cracked nipples) and what gear you’ll definitely want to have.
I learned a lot through my pregnancy experience of gaining (way) more weight than recommended. I’m definitely not suggesting you “try” to do the same, and always check in with your healthcare provider, but if you do gain more than recommended and have an otherwise healthy pregnancy … you aren’t alone and hopefully you are able to keep some perspective… with a few healthy meltdowns of course, hah!
What was your pregnancy experience like?
Did you encounter any of these same feelings or symptoms?