One of my colleagues walked into work yesterday with tears in her eyes. I'd read a Facebook post from her earlier in the day saying, 'I hope the rest of my day gets better.' I cautiously asked if everything was OK and if she needed anything.
"I'm just upset," she revealed. "My doctor was really hard on me about my weight gain and said if I don't start eating better and taking care of myself, I'm going to gain 60 pounds by the time this baby is born. And my baby could die because of it."
Excuse me, huh?
I was astonished. After telling her she never, ever has to go back to that doctor again and giving her the name of the doctor I saw (and loved) before and throughout my most recent pregnancy, I got fired up.
Yes, weight gain could be deadly for a pregnant woman and her growing baby. COULD BE.... particularly with underlying medical conditions or other health complications. I'm no doctor, nor am I pretending to be. But I HAVE had three kids. Doesn't that count for something?
Also, there is such a thing as tough love. I believe it's appropriate in certain situations. I'm not saying doctors needs to coddle their patients and pretend like everything is rainbows and sunshine, but there is a way to be real with without being a jerk.
There needs to be more compassion. More understanding. And less of a "one size fits all" (pun intended), shaming attitude toward pregnant women who choose not to hit the gym. I'm talking about healthcare providers, retail stores and people in general.
I don't advocate eating Cheetos, ice cream and pizza through an entire pregnancy. I did it with my first and gained about 50 pounds. It wasn't pretty. I was in my mid-20s and had been fairly active before becoming pregnant. I also never exercised a day of that pregnancy but I had my own reasons (aside from the fact that I was so sick the first 18 weeks that it was all I could do to get up and go to work each day).
As much as doctors and everything I read online said physical activity was safe as long as my body was used to it and I felt good doing it, I questioned that. The first signs of my very first miscarriage began the day after a trip to the gym and a long walk with my dog in the snow. Was there a connection? Did I get too warm? Did I do something wrong? Probably not. But I still felt like that could have played into it.
I saw several doctors during the next (full term) pregnancy (patients had to rotate around and see everyone in that practice) and none of the docs or nurses ever questioned my weight gain, even when I asked if I was gaining too much.
I did, however, receive a couple emails from viewers who claimed to be offended by the clothing I wore on TV and the way it hugged my belly at 38 weeks pregnant. Oh, I'm sorry... my belly button offended you? Seriously? It never even popped out! Have you been shopping for maternity clothes lately? OK, then please go back to your boring life, your 16 cats and leave me alone.
Even after losing all the weight and becoming pregnant when my first born was 9 months old, I gained back every single pound (and maybe a few more) during my pregnancy with Sawyer, my second child. I didn't work out then either. It showed. But that weight also came off... with a lot of hard work and healthy eating habits.
I ran and worked out through the next three positive pregnancy tests because doctors, research and just about everything else says it can't harm the growing baby.
And guess what? I didn't even make it to six weeks. On any of them. A coincidence? A connection? Again... probably not. But that's the ONLY thing I did differently from the two previous, full term pregnancies and it was my job to listen to my body.
When I scheduled an appointment with one of my OB doctors to try and get answers to some of my concerns - including asking if it was too hot where I was working out or if the workouts themselves might have caused the miscarriages, he quickly said, "My wife works out there and she's six months pregnant so I really doubt that's your issue."
I cried. I got mad. Then I switched doctor's offices. And I never looked back.
This office provides a counselor, a nutritionist and an exercise physiologist. They listened to me. They worked to understand me. A couple months later, I became pregnant with my beautiful Lyla.
I ate a lot better during this pregnancy than my first two full-term pregnancies, didn't exercise, gained just under 40 pounds with her and 6 months after her birth am still working to get it off. Let's just say I'm not ready for before and after pictures yet. :) It's true when people say the weight becomes more difficult to lose after each pregnancy... at least for me anyway.
Here's the thing.
Did I gain more than the recommended weight during my pregnancies? Uh, yeah. By a LONG SHOT.
Did I feel good about it? No.
Did I also feel pressure from online articles, forums and others around me to exercise regularly (on top of being a mom and having a full time job)? ALL THE TIME.
But here's what I got out of it.
I have three amazing, HEALTHY children.
I have friends who had similar experiences. The picture below is my friend Krista. She gained 41 pounds with her son, Graeme. She loves pulling out this picture whenever a pregnant mom is stressing over lbs. We laugh hysterically every time the buffet picture makes an appearance because she looked so different, and... well... right!? But she lost the weight and she looks amazing. Her kid is also incredibly healthy and smart!
Yes, I believe women should strive to be as healthy as possible before, during and after pregnancy. I am in AWE of women who work out at all while they're pregnant.
But we also should not be beat up for gaining weight while we're growing another person inside of us.. I get that a doctor's responsibility is to encourage and ensure the healthiest possible scenario for mother-to-be and her baby. But to the point of making a patient cry? Come on.
I'm convinced different bodies handle pregnancy differently. Some women just gain weight.
Also... that weight comes off. For many of us, it takes serious commitment and, in my case, a 4-freaking-30 a.m. alarm clock a few days a week. But again, it comes off. It's not forever.
Let's get over the pregnancy weight gain and fitness shaming and instead tell pregnant women they're doing one hell of a job growing a human being, shall we?
I'm a mom to 3 beautiful, spirited, elementary school-aged humans, I'm addicted to running + strength training, I have no filter & I work full time in the corporate world. But behind the scenes of all that is where it really gets interesting...