Body image, weight gain, pregnancy….what to do?

Image by Vitor Vitinho from Pixabay

There’s a lot of attention given to how we look – particularly our body shapes and sizes. With pregnancy the body undergoes a lot of changes. Sadly, there are still pregnant teens and women who live with body image issues to the extent it can cause significant harm to the developing fetus as well as the teen/woman.

During pregnancy, the female body starts revving up to take care of nourish the developing fetus. This means more blood, more calories are needed along with staying hydrated, getting sleep, some exercise, stress reduction … these are all important pieces of managing pregnancy in a safe way.

And, remember hormones have distinct functions during pregnancy. As they start working they can influence how you’re feeling emotionally, how your body changes and weight gain. You can read our post about hormones during pregnancy here.

Simply put, the fetus needs to grow and gain weight, this means the mom does too.

Healthy weight gain during pregnancy is encouraged. We want, for these 9-months, to put press pause on eating disorders, on over-exercising, on dieting. If you are living with an eating disorder, please gather your courage together and talk frankly to your health care team. Eating disorders are serious and you may need additional support to manage the pregnancy. If you are recovering from an eating disorder, also tell your health care team so they can be there should you need support to successfully manage unanticipated triggers or anxiety.

Post pregnancy, if you’re breastfeeding, then good nutrition and healthy habits need to continue until breastfeeding is ended. By the way, we have a great story from a mom about breastfeeding here.

We encourage healthy eating and emotional acceptance there will be weight gain during pregnancy. So, what is ‘normal’ weight gain during pregnancy? As you would expect it depends upon many factors. The best advice for you is to talk to your health care team to find the healthy weight range for YOU….your body type, height, age, overall health and pregnancy type (i.e., single vs. multiple births).

In the meantime, what are simple steps you can take?  There are many BUT it means other parts of your life may change.

For example, say adios to fast food and instead look for fresh foods. And if you are a lover of fast food or love its convenience, you can wean yourself off. Maybe change two lunches a week from fast food to fresh food. Then, the next week do two more meals and before you know it, you will easily be munching on more homemade sandwiches, veggies and salads. However, this means you need to find time to prepare meals and shop for groceries. So, plan that out to give yourself enough time to find ways to enjoy shopping and cooking.

For some, morning sickness and nausea can cause trouble in managing healthy eating. Morning sickness can last all day and if this is happening to you, talk to your health care team. Occasionally, if morning sickness is severe, IV fluids may be needed – but, always talk to your health care team if you are experiencing nausea.

The advantages of healthy eating are many.

For the mom, it helps manage issues like blood pressure, stress, mobility, aches and pains. For the fetus it means it is receiving critical nutrients so it has the best chance of developing properly.

Take care!

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