It is the time of year for parties, gatherings, and when high calorie foods seem to be everywhere. Many of us enjoy these once a year treats and look forward to eating them. Unfortunately, these high-calorie foods can lead to unwanted weight gain which leads to New Year resolutions to lose the weight that was gained.
Not usually much of a problem for most of us. But when you are pregnant during this season those extra pounds can be harder to lose after the pregnancy. It is an illusion that you can eat to excess because you are "eating for two." Yes you are eating for two in the sense that you are nourishing yourself and your baby, but it really doesn't take too many more calories to do that. You only need around 300 to 400 extra calories a day to maintain a healthy weight for yourself and your baby.
An illusion is when we are deceived with a false impression of reality. The reality of weight gain during pregnancy is that for a woman who begins her pregnancy with a normal weight, she should gain 25 to 35 pounds. A woman considered overweight should gain 11 to 20 pounds. Excessive weight gain during pregnancy is not easy to lose after the baby is born.
Studies and personal experience have taught me that excessive weight gain can be prevented with simple steps. Those steps are basically being mindful of what you are eating and regular monitoring of weight gain. When regular exercise is added to the mother's routine, even better control of weight gain and sense of well being are increased.
I teach gestational diabetes classes to women who have developed diabetes during their pregnancy. No one likes to hear they have diabetes and many of the women are angry when they come to me. What I teach them is simple. They have to be aware of just a few things: the choices of the food they are eating, measuring the food, testing their blood sugar and moving their bodies.
Being mindful of what you are eating and knowing what the portion should be is the key to not gaining too much weight and the key to losing weight. My mother used to say "a moment on the lips, a month on the hips." That expression reminded me to consider whether the food was worth eating. Sometimes it was and sometimes it wasn't. Mindfulness allows thoughts and emotions to come and go without judging them. It helps us be in the moment.
Exercise during pregnancy is not to be feared. Some people are afraid it takes away from the baby's growth. Actually it improves the mother's health, thereby improves the baby's. Exercise during pregnancy should be comfortable and enjoyable for the mother. Walking, prenatal yoga classes, dancing, are all good activities for the pregnant woman. If you were not into physical movement before you were pregnant you should check with your care provider before starting a new regimen.
So enjoy the season and the foods that come with this time of year. Just be mindful of what you are eating and the amount. If you do have an extra cookie or two, maybe walk a little longer that day, dance a few extra steps, move more.
Maintaining a consistent healthy weight gain during pregnancy will not only benefit your baby, it will benefit you now and in the future.
Katie Powers, R.N., is a board-certified lactation consultant and perinatal educator at Manatee Memorial Hospital's Family BirthPlace. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.