Coping with a Fear of Weight Gain in Pregnancy
Read time: 3 minutes
What to know about the impact of not gaining enough weight during pregnancy
Some women may feel alarmed by gaining weight during pregnancy
Understand why weight gain is important during pregnancy for both your and your baby’s health
Learn tips and where to get support if you feel anxious or fearful by the thought of gaining weight during pregnancy
While some women rejoice in the ability to eat more while they’re pregnant and see the scale numbers going up as normal, others may have a fear of weight gain during pregnancy and take measures to prevent it.
This anxiety 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.
Read more: Healthy Weight Gain in Pregnancy and Why it’s Good
Risk of inadequate weight gain during pregnancy
For some women, their fear of weight gain during pregnancy could stem from a disordered eating past.4 Excessive dieting and exercise are not only dangerous outside of pregnancy, but also potentially harmful when you’re pregnant or trying to get pregnant.
Should the fear of weight gain prevent someone from getting the nutrition and calories needed, it could result in risks to both mom and baby.
Health risks to the mom include: Anemia, premature birth, labor complications, increased risk of hyperemesis gravidarum, difficulties nursing, postpartum depression, and more.
Health risks to the baby include: Poor development, microcephaly, premature birth, low birth weight, and feeding difficulties, among others.1235
An immense amount of energy and strength are needed for pregnancy, childbirth, and parenting, and eating adequately is important to support that. Focusing on the needs of the baby instead of your own can help redirect your thoughts when you feel anxious about your changing body and weight gain.
How much should I Eat while Pregnant?
Strategies for Managing Morning Sickness
How to manage the fear of gaining weight during pregnancy
Even with no history of body image issues or disordered eating, and even with the knowledge of how important weight gain is during pregnancy, some women may still be distressed about gaining the healthy and necessary weight.
Don’t watch the numbers: If it’s helpful, stay off the scale and have your doctor weigh you at appointments without you seeing the number. Chat with your healthcare professional about your anxiety about weight gain so they can work with you and help create a positive environment.
If you usually exercise, speak to your doctor about a safe fitness regimen that can help you feel good about yourself without overdoing it.
Get support: 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.4
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.
And finally, find a registered dietitian to help create a healthy eating plan that will meet your nutrient and calorie needs to support you and your baby’s health.
Is weight gain during pregnancy making you anxious? Reach out to our team of registered dietitians and lactation consultants for free! They’re here (anonymously) to help on our free live chat and can also help you find a registered dietitian that you could work with in your area. We are available from Monday – Friday 8am - 6pm (ET). Chat Now!
Which Nutrients do I Need during Pregnancy?
Tips to help overcoming the fear of weight gain during pregnancy
Work with your doctor and dietitian 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.
We know parenting often means sleepless nights, stressful days, and countless questions and confusion, and we want to support you in your feeding journey and beyond.
Our Happy Baby Experts are a team of lactation consultants and registered dietitians certified in infant and maternal nutrition – and they’re all moms, too, which means they’ve been there and seen that. They’re here to help on our free, live chat platform Monday - Friday 8am-6pm (ET). Chat Now!
Read more about the experts that help write our content!
For more on this topic, check out the following articles:
Practical Tips for Staying Hydrated while Pregnant and Breastfeeding
Meal Plan with Iron Rich Foods for Pregnancy
Could this be Postpartum Depression?