Weight Gain in Pregnancy: What's Normal and What's Just Celebrities
Posted Jun 22 2009 10:40pm
It's official: I am half way done with my pregnancy! With 20 weeks under my metaphorical belt - like I could get an actual belt on these days - and perhaps less to go if the universe loves me, I feel pretty excited about this milestone. As I'm looking obviously pregnant now, there are many upsides - I'm starting to look cute in maternity clothes, hopefully we'll find out the gender soon (my ultrasound is on the 30th) and I get to park in the mother-to-be parking spots without feeling guilty. (Side note: pregnant women do not need special parking spots, really. You know who does? New moms. The baby is relatively easy to carry as long as it's tucked in your abdomen but add colic, a car seat, a diaper bag and older siblings and you need valet parking just to go to the grocery store. Seriously.)
But the baby bump has one serious downside: everyone feels they need to comment on it. Now, normally I don't mind an affectionate pat, even from a stranger, or a "look at you!" but this conversation was a bit much:
Lady #1: Oh, look at your tummy! It's HUGE! I can't believe how big you've gotten! And almost overnight too!
Lady #2: No, no, she's not huge - she's itty bitty. I can barely see her little bump!
Lady #1: Are you serious? Look at her! It sticks out like a mile!
Lady #2: What? She's tiny! I was twice as big as she was when I was pregnant.
Lady #1: Not me! I wore my regular jeans right up until delivery - just had to ride 'em low.
They had this conversation in front of me. The truth is that I'm exactly normal for 20 weeks along. My fundus - that's the supercool name for the top of your uterus (For a fun party trick, walk up to someone and say, "Wanna see my fundus?" You may get slapped or they may buy you drinks for the rest of the night - that's where the fun comes in!) - measures right on for the baby's gestation. So I'm actually not big nor am I small. I'm just a normal pregnant girl.
This conversation though is a perfect example of how skewed our society's perceptions have become when it comes to pregnancy. Normally I blame celebrities with their ridiculous 3-week post-partum slim downs and crazy fish diets but today I'm actually going to agree with them. It turns out that even celebrities with perfect bodies are not immune from this group madness.
Heidi Klum, the woman who makes pregnancy look downright chic, was recently quoted as saying - unapologetically! - “I’m bigger than I should be, but I always gain 40-45 pounds, so I still have a ways to go.” (For those of you who don't keep track of all things uterine, doctors recommend an average woman gain 5-25 pounds. ) This made me want to run up and kiss Heidi right on her "big" bump - the bump which will magically disappear 4 weeks post-partum despite it being her fourth kid but I'll be depressed over that one later- and cheer, "Right on, sister! Me too!" Even supermodels gain weight!
Jenna Jameson, now more famous for birthing twins than for her extensive porn career, was recently targeted by TMZ for having "wide hips." This may be the first time in my life I've ever found myself in the same camp as Jenna Jameson - especially when it comes to feminist issues - but girlfriend's got a good point! And, for the record, tiny hips. Here's her surprisingly rational response:
"I was pretty heated about the thought of this random chick saying I looked WIDE… Seriously… this is the ultimate example of girl on girl HATING. I mean, I had twins 4 months ago!!!! Its crazy to me that a fellow woman would feel the need to bash my hips… when most women would relate to the fact that I spent the past year building two perfect little humans. Does the circumference of my hips really matter? Should that even be discussed? It truly makes me sick to my stomach that this woman felt the need to pick my body apart when just barely 18 months ago TMZ was BASHING me for being TOO skinny! This is why women have such massive body issues… I have worked very hard to be healthy… and that is all that matters, not the size of my booty!"
As Jenna demonstrates, the public judgement with pregnancy weight gain continues on with even more fervor to post-baby weight loss. I can't tell you how many times I've already been asked how fast I "plan" on losing the baby weight. (Any parent will tell you that babies laugh - and then spit up - in the face of any so-called plans.) All I can say is that in the past I have lost most of the weight within about six months but those last 10 or so pounds will not budge until I wean the little nipper. I know what they say about breast-feeding melting the pounds away but it just isn't true for me. My body seems to think it needs to store the extra milk in my thighs and hips. And so be it. I have very healthy kids so it would seem my body knows what it is doing.
While not as hot a topic as weight gain, pre- and post-natal exercise also garners a lot of attention. Thanks to the wonder of the second trimester, I am feeling pretty energetic and back to all my workouts full force - albeit with some modifications. No more bow pose or reclining ab work for me! This hiatus in the woes of pregnancy will be relatively brief though as I know from experience that the third trimester will knock me right back down on my ample butt.
A recent study addresses a common myth of pre- and especially post-natal exercise: that intense, vigorous exercise is the best thing to take off extra weight. It turns out that, "Exercise is important when people are overweight, but after pregnancy, a lot of exercise does not necessarily help a great deal. The Institute summarised the research evidence about the best ways to lose weight after childbirth. The evidence shows that a balanced diet helps – with or without extra exercise. Very strenuous exercise programmes soon after childbirth did not lead to extra weight loss. This means that women do not need to have a bad conscience if they take it easy in the busy weeks after giving birth."
So there you have it - from the mouths of celebrities and researchers - you have permission to take it easy, be kind to yourself and, most importantly, focus on growing and caring for a healthy, happy baby!