Coping with a fear of weight gain in pregnancy
While some women rejoice in the ability to eat more while they’re pregnant and watch the scale numbers grow up as their baby bump grows, others may have a fear of weight gain during pregnancy and take measures to prevent normal weight gain. It could stem from a history of disordered eating, past weight loss success that they don’t want to “ruin,” the influence of celebrities who are touted for staying slim while pregnant, or any other number of reasons.
It is important to recognize and accept that your body can and should go through changes as it supports a growing baby, baby’s own nutrient stores and development. Inadequate weight gain could increase the risk of having a baby pre-term or at low birth weight, in addition to other possible issues such as breathing or digestive problems, and a mother’s inability to produce adequate milk once the baby is born.
For some women, their fear of weight gain could stem from past eating disorders and cause them to resurface during pregnancy. Excessive dieting and exercise is not only dangerous outside of pregnancy, but also potentially harmful when you’re pregnant or trying to get pregnant. Even with no history of body image issues or disordered eating, some women can feel alarmed by reaching a weight they may never have seen before. Focusing on the needs of the baby instead of your own can help redirect your thoughts when you feel out of control with your changing body and weight gain. If it’s helpful, stay off the scale and have your doctor weigh you at appointments without you seeing the number. If you usually exercise, speak to your doctor about a safe fitness regimen that can help you feel good about yourself without overdoing it.
If weight gain fears are a constant source of stress and anxiety, seek out the help of a mental health professional to work on self acceptance and overcoming any weight-related fears either before becoming pregnant or during pregnancy. You may also benefit from joining a pregnancy group, either in person or online, to speak openly about your concerns and get support from others.
What to Do
- Work with your doctor on achieving healthy weight gain throughout your pregnancy.
- Speak to your doctor about a safe exercise routine during pregnancy.
- Focus on the baby’s needs and the importance of weight gain to decrease the risk of a pre-term or low birth weight baby.
- Seek out the help of a mental health professional to work on self acceptance and overcoming any weight-related fears either before becoming pregnant or during pregnancy.
- Join a pregnancy group, either in person or online, to speak openly about your concerns and get support from others.