What's the Opposite of Pregorexia?

Marj Hatzell

You are what you (and your baby) eat.
When my mother had her first baby in the late '60s, doctors frowned upon much (if any) weight gain during pregnancy. With her first two pregnancies, she gained FOUR POUNDS EACH. Those were teeny, tiny babies. By the time she had her seventh (YES, SEVENTH, as in one more than sixth) child, she gained 60 pounds because the doctors said, "Go on! Gain as much as you want! IT'S GOOD FOR THE BABY!" That was a much larger baby, go figure.

By the time I had my boys 20 years later, the midwives recommended a weight range, depending on pre-pregnancy weight and body type and BMI. I was given a green light to gain whatever I wanted. Lucky? NO. Sixty pounds and I'm still paying for it! My sisters, who both struggled with their weight? Were told not to gain ANY. Let's just say there was a TEENSY bit of animosity. Just a little.

So, what are the current recommendations? Does it really matter how much you gain or don't gain? Is it okay to give in to those pregnancy cravings and eat pickles and ice cream every night?

According to the guidelines on the USDA website, average women should gain between 25-35 pounds during their pregnancy. If the woman is underweight when she conceives, she should gain more. If she is overweight, then she should gain less. Makes sense, right? They don't give guidelines on how much their partners should gain (ever hear of couvade syndrome?) but I'm gonna go out on a limb and say nothing. What their partners could do, however, is get with the program and eat healthier foods and get a decent amount of exercise WITH them. It does matter how much you gain. Too much weight gained during pregnancy can be blamed for wicked stretch marks (from gaining too fast, though this is apparently partly genetic), gestational diabetes, hypertension, and other problems. To be fair, these issues may also arise even in women who maintain a good diet and exercise when pregnant, but your chances of developing them increase the more the pounds increase.

Lately, practitioners have been warning against "eating for two." Apparently, the old adage is DEAD WRONG. According to WebMD you should eat between 300-500 extra calories. (Yes, that's all. BOO!) You should eat a variety of foods to get optimal vitamins, minerals, and protein. And by variety they don't mean rocky road in the morning, peanut butter fudge in the afternoon, and chocolate raspberry for a night-time snack. Ice cream for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, while tasty, probably isn't the best choice. Although that's some serious calcium you're getting. Good job! And I think this goes without saying -- NO ALCOHOL, mmkay? Even if Aunt Betsy tells you she had a glass of wine every night. There's a reason Cousin Carl acts the way he does, you know.

One added benefit of watching what you eat when pregnant? There's less to take off AFTER the baby is born. It's the NEW MATH and it makes no sense, but for some reason what takes nine months to put on takes about two years to take off. For some people. Ahem. While you should by no means starve yourself and try "pregorexia," maintaining a healthy balance is good for you AND your baby. And your family, by default. The numbers are not as important as long as you are HEALTHY. So, get busy eating well and growing that baby. Nine months go REALLY FAST.

Are you dizzy about how much weight you are supposed to gain?


Image via Marj Hatzell

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