Weight gain is arguably the most highly scrutinized measurement during pregnancy. Maternal health and nutrition Expert Crystal Karges explains why staying in tune with your body’s needs may be more important than the number showing up on the scale.
Let’s be real.
When you are in the thick of pregnancy and faced with countless doctors appointments, being weighed every few weeks, poked, prodded and questioned, it makes you start to question your body.
Pregnancy is perhaps one of the few times in a woman’s life where weight is heavily scrutinized, and the number on the scale becomes the hyper focus of attention. On top of this, we are often given “information” about our weight throughout our pregnancy that has us questioning how we’re eating or if we can truly trust what our bodies are needing.
The truth is that nobody knows better about what you are needing during your pregnancy than YOU! Not the pregnancy books, websites, or forums, not your well-meaning relatives who mention how “big” you’ve gotten or the random stranger that asks you if you’re having multiples.
Weight gain is often something that is feared, but this is a crucial component to a having a healthy pregnancy and baby. Eating mindfully in pregnancy can support healthy weight gain, and qualitative research in this area has shown that intuitive eating during pregnancy has been associated with appropriate gestational weight gain and improved glucose control.
If you quiet the external noise long enough, you can find that your body does know exactly what you are needing – whether it is an extra snack before bedtime, a power-nap midday, or avoiding a certain food that just doesn’t seem appealing. The important thing to remember is that what your body is telling you – whether it’s a random food craving or ravenous hunger, are not things to FEAR but rather, the nudging from your body’s innate ability to grow a baby.
Pregnancy is already filled with so many unknowns and vulnerabilities, and seconding guessing how you are eating will only add unnecessary stress. Here are 3 ways to help you navigate the uncharted waters that you may be experiencing in pregnancy, and just remember: you are not alone.
1. Get support!
Setting up a solid support system can be one of the most invaluable resources during and after your pregnancy. Whether by joining a support group, meeting with a therapist and/or dietitian, or having someone you can lean on when you need encouragement can be life-changing.
2. Ditch the scale.
Unless you have a medical condition that warrants strict measuring of your weight, consider ditching the scale during your pregnancy (and thereafter). If your health care provider is recording weights, consider asking for blind weights (where you are weighed without seeing the number).
You would be surprised what this might do for your health and sanity throughout the duration of your pregnancy. Most women will gain an adequate amount of weight for their body type and pregnancy and be JUST fine, even if it doesn’t fall exactly within the “recommended” weight guidelines.
3. Eat all your macros!
Macronutrients, that is. Not that there is anything wrong with eating sour patch gummy bears as a mid-afternoon pick me up or temporarily living on crackers because that is the only thing you can manage to keep down.
The most important thing here is that you are listening to and honoring your body. If and when you can, think about eating small, frequent meals throughout the day, grouping together your main macronutrients when possible (i.e. carbohydrates, proteins, and fats) as well as other essential nutrients. This can help you better manage some of the symptoms you are experiencing, not to mention, keep those hunger pains at bay. Examples might be graham crackers with peanut with almond butter, fresh fruit with cheese, and greek yogurt with granola. Remember, the best thing you can do during pregnancy is to honor what your body is telling you.
Trust the capacity your body has to carefully guide through this beautiful time in your life.
What’s most important is not how much weight you’ve gained or what the number on the scale says. Rather, it’s about whether you are solidifying a healthy relationship with food and your body. This will be essential for establishing an overall healthy pregnancy and positively supporting you and your baby as you begin your motherhood journey.
You’ve got this mama, and more importantly, you absolutely can trust your body to guide you through the miraculous process of growing and nurturing your baby and your body.
Adapted from the original article.
Crystal Karges, MS, RDN, IBCLC is a San Diego-based private practice dietitian helping others embrace their health for themselves and their loved ones. Focusing on maternal/child health and eating disorders, Crystal creates the nurturing, safe environment that is needed to help guide individuals towards a peaceful relationship with food and their bodies.