The Dangers of Gaining Too Much Pregnancy Weight
When hormones begin to fluctuate, stress levels skyrocket, and appetite begins to do strange things, some people find it very hard to eat, and others find it very hard to stop eating. When you are ravenous all the time, or just stress-eating, it’s tempting to justify overeating. “I’m pregnant; I can eat what I want, right?”
If you gain an excessive amount of weight (like 50 pounds or more), you will probably experience more consequences than just a lot more to lose after you give birth. You could experience more health problems and pregnancy complications, such as:
Hypertension and/or diabetes
Both of these health conditions can make your pregnancy harder to manage and create potential risks for you and your baby.
Excess weight gain can exacerbate backaches, exhaustion, varicose veins, calf cramps, heartburn, hemorrhoids, and achy joints. And if too many of those extra pounds follow you to labor, they can also make that already-tough experience a lot tougher.
The heavier you are, the more likely your baby is to be larger, increasing the odds that a vaginal delivery will require the use of forceps or a vacuum. You might not be able to deliver vaginally, as being overweight increases your chances of delivering by C-section, which then makes for a more difficult recovery after your baby is born. And should you choose to have an epidural, excess weight can make the placement of the epidural more difficult.
Increased risk of childhood obesity
Remember the old saying “a fat baby is a happy baby”? Not so. Remember: When you gain, in most cases, so does the fetus—often in the form of fat cells that raise the risk that your child will struggle with and be more susceptible to weight gain as he ages. One study found that, compared with those whose moms gained 18 to 22 pounds during pregnancy, babies whose moms gained more than 53 pounds were an average 5 ounces heavier at birth and twice as likely to weigh more than 8.8 pounds.4 Another study found that, compared with the children of women who gained the recommended amount of weight, those who gained an “excessive” amount of weight had children who were more than four times more likely to be overweight at age 3.5 And many studies have shown that birth weight is directly related to later BMI, into adolescence and adulthood.
That slammin’ mommy body I promised you is going to be much harder to deliver if you let yourself go to pot over the next 40 weeks. Here’s a scary bit of info: Studies show that women who gain too much weight and don’t lose it within 6 months after giving birth are at a higher risk of remaining obese. I can’t tell you how many women come up to me and say, “I just need your help losing my baby weight.” To which I respond, “Oh, congratulations! When did you give birth?” Seven out of 10 times, they say something like, “Oh, my son is 5.” Or 7. Or 13! Then they add, apologetically, “I just never lost the weight.” Now, good on them—because it’s never too late! But why make the production much harder on yourself and the little one than it has to be?
The key to maintaining a fabulous physique before, during, and after pregnancy is to focus on that sense of self-nurture in a positive way. This is not about deprivation— it’s about balance. It’s okay to have a piece of pizza, just not the whole pie. It’s okay to have a scoop of ice cream, just not the whole container. Finding this balance within your pregnancy is integral in helping you maintain a healthy weight during and after. A focus on quality also matters. You know that organic dark chocolate is a lot better for you than a sugar-laden Milky Way; that grass-fed burger is exponentially healthier for you than the one with conventional nonorganic beef that is loaded with hormones, antibiotics, and fillers.