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pregnancy weight gain, the panic starts earlier and earlier

Posted by on Mar 24, 2011 in Blog Posts | 39 comments

I recently saw this photo of me at about term, right before I birthed an almost 10 pound baby. πŸ™‚ (I was 9 1/2 pounds at birth, her dad was 10lbs 2 oz, and her great-gramma was over 10, so it’s in the genes…)

Anyway, it got me thinking about pregnancy, and weight gain, and how the obesity hysteria that is freaking out moms of even infants (I have heard many, many stories of even breast-feeding mothers being advised by health care professionals to restrict…) is now starting even earlier- pre-conception and pregnancy. All the worry, much of it misplaced,Β  isn’t helping.

There is a lot of talk now about pregnant women and weight gain and childhood obesity. Gain too much weight and your baby will be obese! or have diabetes, or die! Fat already? Well then don’t gain any weight! Think of the children!

Much of the current advice and panic around weight gain and pregnancy appears unfounded and confusing in terms of the science. Doctors are well-documented to suffer from weight-bias, or should I say, their patients suffer. (“Well-rounded Mama” blog has several better-researched thoughts than this on her blog. Here’s one to get you started. Poke around. It’s interesting.) Asking an “obese” mother not to gain any weight during pregnancy has not been shown to improve outcomes, and may worsen them, for the infant and mom. I am all for supporting all mothers with healthy and competent eating, but again, we have to make sure as professionals that we are not making things worse in our attempts to make them better.

I started my pregnancy “normal” weight, and gained about 25 pounds in the first 2-3 months- probably WAY more than I was “supposed to.”Β  I felt sick on and off, ate well for the most part (for a few weeks I would cook a yummy, balanced meal and then ask hubby to bring fries and coke home for me. I didn’t eat fish the entire pregnancy because it did not appeal.) I gained about 5-8 pound for the remaining 6 months. Had I been “obese” to begin with, the same Coke and fries might have elicited concerned lectures, hints at child-engangerment even perhaps.

What I am grateful for is that no one pressured me, or told me my weight gain was too fast, or that I needed to limit what or how much I was eating. I ate based on what was appealing. Some days, the big bowl of cut up melon was what I craved, others it was the fries and coke. Overall I made an effort and did eat balanced meals and snacks, and offered myself plenty of delicious whole foods, but I didn’t make myself eat something that didn’t taste good, or less than what I had appetite for. (see end of this post for discussion of competent eating.) I walked regularly, enjoying that time with my changing body (until premature contractionsΒ  meant no more walks…)

I worry, that with all things weight-related we are losing our common sense, we are possibly and probably messing things up even more. It’s perfectly OK to help a pregnant mother have access to a variety of foods, to screen her for distorted eating attitudes or behaviors, to discuss barriers to enjoyable physical activity or regular, rewarding meals and to encourage healthful behaviors for all pregnant women. (Interestingly,Β  disordered eating behaviors improve with pregnancy for many, such as purging, but others, perhaps who restrict chronically might also increase some behaviors such as binging as it is the first time they feel “allowed” to eat.)

Oh, and do you think that if I was “obese” and had given birth to an almost 10 pounder that anyone would have believed it was due to anything other than my gluttony and inability to watch my diet, even for the sake of my unborn child!!!

I liked this quote about growth charts in kids, and wonder if it might apply to pregnant women and weight gain as well…

β€œGrowth charts are not intended to be used as a sole diagnostic instrument. Instead, growth charts are tools that contribute to forming an overall clinical impression for the child being measured.” (CDC)

Perhaps a rapid weight gain or loss will be part of the picture, along with inquiring about exercise, eating, genetics, etc.

Do you remember your weight gain pattern in pregnancy? Did you get “the lecture?” What was your experience? Am I off base? (Again, I am not saying, it’s a free-for-all, it’s really a health at every size approach to pregnancy…)

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  1. Chinese Girl

    Male doctors have be very strict, cruel even, in Asia. I went to a Hong Kong fertility specialist who looked me straight in the eye, in front of my husband, and snapped, “You know you’re FAT, don’t you?” I weighed 125 pounds. He then asked me the “history” of my weight gain and told me to lose 20 of it. I said I haven’t weighed 100 lbs since childhood and we walked out.
    The doctor blamed my alleged infertility on my “weight problem” and made me feel terrible. For a stupid few days, I even ran out and bought chemical-filled diet shakes. Then I came to my senses. If I was a less educated or more insecure Asian lady, I would have believed him.
    Actually, it turned out to be a male issue and I got pregnant on my first round of IVF. According to tests, I had perfectly healthy ovulation and good eggs.
    I’m now in my second trimester, having gained about 4-5 kilos (9-10 lbs) so far. My second doctor has never said a peep about my weight.

    • katja

      Congratulations! I’m sorry your first doctor was such an ignorant jerk. I do feel sorry for the women who are stuck with him. I imagine he does more harm than good. Sounds like you are in good hands now. Enjoy the rest of your pregnancy!

  2. Restless Native

    This discussion is fascinating. What I’m taking away is this: Look! We’re all individuals! One size does NOT fit all. HEALTHY is what matters.

    I started my first pregnancy a bit underweight. I gained 54 pounds all told. My doctor (whom I liked in every way otherwise) was having a COW. We argued about it every single appointment. He’d tell me to stop eating so much ice cream. I’d insist that I’d not had any ice cream on anything approaching a regular basis. He warned me that I was going to be FAT. I knew I was eating well and not overdoing it, I had no idea why my body was packing on the pounds. My blood sugar, blood pressure were both good, but he wanted me on the GD diet. Fine. After all this guy was stressing me out. I looked at the diet and it was pretty much what I’d been doing anyway, but with a little more (!) food. Huh. Delivered healthy 6lb15oz baby three and a half weeks early (broken water, had to induce) and the weight fell off.

    Fast forward seven years. Pregnant again. This time I’m a bit older and I’m noting that my body isn’t quite as resilient as it once was. I was normal weight this time , but I’d put on a quick ten pounds before my first OB appointment. I didn’t really want to gain all that weight again and not be able to lose it, so I talked to the doctor about it, telling him about my first experience and my current worries. (We’d moved to another state so this was a different OB.) He gave me a fresh copy of the GD diet and patted my head and told me to expect to gain 25-27 pounds, and that by following the diet I wouldn’t gain more than that.

    At around 5 months I realized I wasn’t in charge of my weight gain and neither was my OB. My weight tracked exactly like my first pregnancy. Doc got a little wide-eyed, and I starting bringing in notes of what I’d eaten and how much. He stopped fussing at me but the nurses always made snarky remarks when I got on the scale. At eight months I flatly refused to get on the scale anymore. Period. I was on weeklies by then. I made the OB write “Do not weigh this patient!” in fat red marker on the outside of my chart. He was great, actually, and we became friends. I got a healthy full-term 9lb baby out of the deal and the weight again fell off, just more slowly this time.

    You know what? My mom gained the exact same way with my sister and me. They put her on diet pills to try to stop it.

    • katja

      I love this! I agree how interesting this all is. “Look! We’re all individuals! One size does NOT fit all. HEALTHY is what matters.” I love that line. Your story is a fascinating addition. Your mother’s pattern, yours… perhaps sad is that you weren’t believed. That you couldn’t possibly be eating sensibly and gaining that much weight! It shows how little we know. Reminded me of the study (can’t think of it off the top of my head) where prisoners had absolutely controlled calories/intake etc and gained and lost weight at very different rates. Despite major calorie restriction, some inmates lost almost no weight, while it seemed to melt off others. Same with re-feeding or increasing calories. Some gained far more weight than others, who seemed to gain almost no weight at all. It is WAY more than calories in, calories out, especially during pregnancy when there are so many other complicating factors.

  3. Bobbini

    I got pregnant with my first at age 35, weighing ~250 pounds. In my interview with my midwife, I asked her how she might deal with my pregnancy differently if I was 75 pounds lighter and 10 years younger. She said no real difference–she treats the patient in front of her, rather than the numbers.

    By 30 weeks, I’d gained a whopping 7 pounds and ended up with gestational diabetes. I controlled my blood sugar with diet very easily, but actually dropped 4 pounds and had a full-term baby (8 pounds, 10 ounces).

    At my 6 week postpartum visit, I weighed about 225, and my weight stayed there until I got pregnant again 10 months later. Second pregnancy, I did NOT have gestational diabetes, and gained about 6-8 pounds total. I’d lost another 20 pounds at my postpartum checkup (the baby was an ounce heavier than her brother).

    In the four years since, my weight has returned to where it was between kids (somewhere around 225). I’ve been obese my entire adult life, with remarkably consistent weight–I’m wearing the same size today as I did when I graduated from college 21 years ago. My health is fine, though my fitness level has been better in the past.

    Pregnancy was a great time for me (though two full-term pregnancies in just over 2 years is a bit tiring). I felt good and like my body was working well throughout. I had no problems with mobility or discomfort; my blood pressure was great. I had some swelling in my ankles, and bought some compression socks for when I had to fly on business trips (they’re going strong, 6 years later–they’re like Spanx for your calves!)

    As a bonus, my labor and delivery experiences both times really reinforced that my body is powerful and smart all on its own. I don’t have a history of yo-yo dieting and have never felt ‘at war’ with my body the way so many women of all sizes have. I have no idea why that mindset didn’t take hold in me, but I’m grateful. But pregnancy and childbirth actually made me a huge fan of my body. It’s a great feeling!

  4. Dawn

    I have had two entirely healthy pregnancies. I’m in Ontario and had a midwife for my care for both girls (which I totally reccommend to anyone who has the option).

    I weighed between 225-230 both times when I got pregnant. With the first I gained 19 pounds and came home from the hospital having lost 16 of it. The first baby weighed 8 lbs 3 oz. I then put on about 10 while I was exclusively breastfeeding. She self-weaned at six months and then I went back to 225, where I stayed until I got pregnant again almost 4 years later.

    With the second I gained a little more, closer to 30 pounds, although I’m not too sure b/c the midwife stopped weighing me at the end. The second baby weighed 10 lbs even and was born super fast with no complications and no drugs. Like I said, the midwives never gave me any hassle or commented on my weight. They did make suggestions on snacks I could try but never in the context of ‘you’re gaining too much weight’. My only problem came at the hospital when my second daughter was born. The hospital had a policy of checking the blood sugar of any babies who were more than 4540 grams (pretty much 10 lbs). I got a little offended b/c the pediatrician asked me 4 times if I was sure I didn’t have gestational diabetes. I don’t know if he would have asked a thin mother with a 10 lb baby that adamantly. I really felt like he thought I was lying. For the record, I had passed my glucose tolerance test with flying colours and never had any sugar in the urine dipstick at the midwife visits. My younger one self-weaned at 6 months as well and my weight is up to 250. I just went back to work though so I’m figuring that having a regular schedule and more opportunity for activity will reset my body to it’s 225 benchmark.

    Just as an aside, I also have MS, but that was never an issue with either pregnancy. In fact with the MS, it often feels like my body is betraying me and when I was pregnant I felt strong and whole again.

    • katja

      i love all these comments that talk about how well mamas felt when they were pregnant. I’m glad the MS wasn’t an issue with the pregnancies and wish you all the best!

  5. Elizabeth

    When I had my first, I started out barely overweight, gained something between 50 and 60 pounds during the pregnancy, did not have gestational diabetes. For my second, I started out just into the “obese” range, gained about 15 pounds, and did have gestational diabetes. Both times, I was back to my prebirth weight within a few weeks, but gained a lot of weight while trying to keep up with breastfeeding and ended up with a new setpoint 40-50 pounds higher than the one before pregnancy. Both babies were big – first was 8 lbs at 35 weeks (failed induction and C-section for preeclampsia – a lot of the weight gain on that one was water), second was 9 lbs 2 oz at 37 weeks (scheduled C-section for placenta previa).

    In the second pregnancy, I had an early GD screen which I passed with a lot of margin, and then a late one which I failed spectacularly. I was really glad to have had the early one when the diabetes educator started telling me that with such high sugars (and, no doubt, being fat, although she didn’t mention that part), I must have been an undiagnosed diabetic before pregnancy. Being able to point out that four weeks ago I had a perfect nondiabetic result shut her up nicely.

    I also got pretty mad at a nurse who blamed the second big baby on GD. In the first place, I was on hospital bed rest with nurses checking my blood sugar five times a day, and my control was excellent throughout. In the second place, GD may make babies fat, but it doesn’t make them grow thigh bones so long that the ultrasound size estimator algorithm’s chart doesn’t go that high. He’s just tall, and he’s still off the charts for height at almost 3.

    • katja

      it all goes to show how much diversity in size and shape there is, and how uncomfortable it makes health care workers somehow. If your child is growing 50% for height and 50% for weight, they can ignore it. If the child is growing at the extremes, it seems like the reactions are so alarmist, rather than inquisitive (is this OK, or a sign of something else…) and supportive.

  6. Ashley

    I have PCOS and started pregnancy at just over the obese threshold. I wound up gaining about 30 pounds total, most of that in the 3rd trimester. My midwife never said a word about my weight, though she was a bit concerned about my swelling, which was fine.

    My daughter was born 17 days overdue (dates were accurate) and almost 10 pounds. Because of hyperemesis I pretty much didn’t eat during pregnancy, so for the record you CAN grow a perfectly healthy 10 pound baby on almost no food. Not sure how, but I did. Of course, I don’t recommend it.

    Turns out my weight gain was almost entirely fluids, and I lost all of it through night sweats by 2 weeks post partum. Which, let me tell you, single grossest way of losing weight, ever.

    I never got any negative comment about my weight from a medical professional, or about my baby’s weight, thankfully. I did have some friends asking how i was planning on losing the pregnancy weight by the time I was 7 months along, which got them quite the earful over how offensive that question was.

    Pregnancy taught me a lot about nutrition, including just how important calories are. I was literally starving for most of my pregnancy, and it wasn’t fun. I would have much preferred to gain 60 pounds if it meant I was able to keep down food. We’ll be trying again soon, and I’m scared of the 6+ months of starvation that will probably come along with a new pregnancy.

    • katja

      Ashley, I’m so sorry you suffered like that! For the record I took care of one mom with hyperemesis and her second pregnancy was fine. I hope you have the same outcome! I’m so glad you let your friends have it for their outrageous comments while you were pregnant. Too often we give in to that “fat talk” and if we all spoke out like you did, we women would be a whole lot happier I think. Again, your story of a 10 pound baby with hyperemesis points to our relative lack of understanding of this amazing process of growing a baby!

  7. AmandaL

    My second is now almost 8 weeks old, and my two pregnancies were totally different. The first, when I started off as “obese”, I gained 26 lbs, and this last one, technically overweight, I gained about 52 (stopped counting). My blood pressure was higher with the first, and I think it was because every time it was measured, I was expecting a lecture on weight gain, since I had been told to only gain 10-15 lbs. I interpreted this as essentially LOSING weight during pregnancy, since the placenta and baba would account for most of that! The second round, I had been going through counselling with Michelle (the Fat Nutritionist) when I became pregnant, so I really did feel like pregnancy was a really useful tool for me to get over certain of my inhibitions about eating and weight. The hard part, for me, has been the post-pregnancy weight loss–the desire to step on the scale every morning and see where I am has been nearly impossible to resist, and I find some of the old behaviors hovering on the edge of my awareness. I may have gained 52 lbs, but by 8 wks post partum today, I have lost 45 of them, but with my first, it took me six months to do the same thing. I will say, this weight loss is the most dangerous trigger for me and my eating issues; I also think it shows me that I really haven’t accepted my size, truthfully, even though I can talk the talk. Between pregnancy and rapid weight loss, there may be a reason why I suddenly have to have my gall bladder out in two weeks, hmph.

    • katja

      Pregnancy and post-partum weight issues can be huge triggers as you are now seeing. Perhaps a follow up call with michelle, or for any of you, with your support/therapists will help. I think that when we have issues or have had issues around food and body image, being prepared for the challenging times can help. Knowing it will challenge and throw you for a loop means you can plan. Set up calls with supportive friends, professionals, re-read the books/articles that helped you make the progress you have made.
      Having a new baby is so stressful. less sleep, hormones out of whack, the disruption to any romantic partnerships that often happen. Be kind to yourself, find and accept support where you can, and good luck! This is all certainly a journey with steps backwards and forwards.
      I really did feel like pregnancy was a really useful tool for me to get over certain of my inhibitions about eating and weight.
      This sentence is a large part of why I wrote this post. Pregnancy is a wonderful time to really address eating and body-image concerns. It can be a time to partner and ally and support the pregnant woman, or, as we seem to do, shame, guilt and pressure her (which we KNOW doesn’t help eating…) Thank you for sharing!

  8. Debra

    I am an American living in Australia – when i had my first daughter I was using the private health care system and had an OB-GYN (not common here) – at my 2nd visit i asked if he was going to weigh me and he said “no- i don’t need to” – he never weighed me again – his philospophy was that as long as you had steady gains and ate well there was nothing to stress about week to week etc. he said he would notice by seeing me whether i was getting too big too fast. I did not binge on burger king nor did i beat myself up if i wanted a treat every day. i gained an average amount of weight (20-25 lbs i think) and delivered a healthy 7 lb girl.

    by the 2nd baby I was a permanent resident and used the public hospital system which was a midwife system that i loved. They did weigh me but never once commented – again no stress, 25 lbs gained and a well balanced approach to eating (as is the norm here with fewer people going on restrictive diets than in the states) and another healthy 6.5-7 lb girl. I ate whatever I felt like, was balanced and exercised moderately.

    I am always amazed when i read about peple who stress about gaining only a tiny amount of weight when pregnant – i imagine worrying and obsessing over calories and weight would have a worse effect on the baby than an extra bag of potato chips would.

    • katja

      It is sad that many, many women stress completely over weight gain in pregnancy and after. I’m glad you had such positive experiences. I did some training in med school in Germany where the standard was to have a midwife and have an OB if things were out of the norm. My sister in france had the same experience.
      Anyway, I’m glad you were able to eat well and all turned out. Yours is a good illustration of first do no harm, that is, things were going well, why mess with it? Why introduce worry and doubting in terms of your eating? In my experience working in this field, worry and anxiety, guilt, shame make eating and weight issues worse, support, planning, education, permission, working through issues with eating, guilt etc make eating and health better…

  9. Dana

    As an OB, I’d like to present “the other side” on this one. I am on board with Satter’s philosophy in general but excess weight gain (which I’m not going to define here because it depends on many factors, including the mom’s pre-pregnancy weight, her stature and habitus, baby’s weight, etc.) increases the mother’s risk of gestational diabetes during the pregnancy and of labor dystocias and c-sections at term. C-sections on obese gravidas are *not* easy and they get harder as the degree of obesity rises. Postoperatively, these moms have a significantly higher risk of wound seromas and infections and in some cases, are packing open wounds for weeks or months, leading to significant scar tissue and adhesions that only makes the situation worse if they request or require another c-section in the future.

    I think that many women, accustomed to restricting at other times, decide it’s OK to eat as much as they want while they’re pregnant and actually overeat during gestation. I know I did that during my pregnancies, often eating to the point of feeling overfull and uncomfortable for hours- something I likely would not have done if I had not been accustomed to restricting and depriving myself before pregnancy.

    The area of surgery and surgical risks in obese people in general is one in which the idea of the benign nature of obesity doesn’t wholly satisfy me, because there is good evidence that surgical risks are higher in the obese, and particularly morbidly obese, population.

    • katja

      Hi Dana! I don’t know the data enough to get into a discussion on the research, but do accept that there are increased post-op risks, intra-operative etc. I think what I am getting at is that the recommendations asking moms to lose weight, or not gain weight have not been really tested, and probably don’t work and may cause more harm than good.
      I totally agree that women who restrict, may have a higher tendency to engage in “finally I can eat what I want!” eating. But, does asking them not to, or to stop, or try to lose weight work, or maybe make things worse… The majority of adult women in this country are not “eating competent,” falling somewhere along the continuum of “disordered” to eating disorder. Many, expecially those who are “overweight and obese” have dieted on and off most of their lives. There is a complex cycle of shame, guilt, overeating etc. (A good description of this is in “Overcoming Binge Eating” in the first section.) Asking many women to restrict further almost seems to throw gasoline on the fire and further distorts normal eating.
      I think we need to do better supporting normal eating. A great resource would be “secrets to feeding a healthy family.” The first part talks alot about feeding yourself. Provide regular, rewarding meals every 3-4 hours, pay attention to what you are eating. etc… What do you think? Does that make sense? Again, not trying to minimize true risk, or say, “hey, free for all, eat cake all day!” but really a model of health…
      What I would love to see is the eating competence assessment (that has been validated)

  10. Jess

    Dang, I hate how those emoticons are automatically generated and take away my parentheses!

  11. Jess

    I started both my pregnancies normal weight and gained exactly 44 pounds both times. Both times the first 20 lbs slid off in the first few weeks and both times I had to resume my normal exercise and do some portion control (not intense calorie restriction– just re-setting to normal, healthy eating after eating larger portions and more fatty food during pregnancy) to lose the rest. I’m currently 3 months post-partum with my second, and the weight is coming off the same as with my first. FWIW, both my kids were born “average” on the growth chart, but then sky rocketed off (my four year old son is super tall for his age, but lean; my newborn daughter is filling out nicely πŸ™‚

    All that being said, each time I told myself before hand I would only gain 25 lbs and then felt guilty for gaining so much weight (less so with the second than the first, but still). Now that I’m exercising again and eating healthy, I feel great and know the weight will come off with time, but, to be perfectly honest, I spent the first two months post-partum regretting my pregnancy weight gain and feeling anxious to get recovered enough to work out. My midwife never said a thing about my weight, but my mother told me 4 days post-partum it was “time to go on a diet” (my relationship with my mother would be a whole ‘nother story/blog πŸ™‚ All in all, I think there is a ton of pressure on moms from the media to lose the baby weight (fast!). But it’s part and parcel of the media microscope on women’s bodies– there’s some razor’s edge of perfection, below which is “too thin” and above which is “too fat”… somehow everyone ends up feeling bad.

    Also, FWIW, my super-fit aunt had three kids and gained the *least* amount of weight (about 24 lbs) with her youngest and breast fed that one the longest (11 mos, as opposed to 5 and 6 mos for the other two)… out of the three, the youngest is the one that is chubby. During pregnancy with the older two, my aunt gained much more weight and breast fed shorter periods and they are both rail skinny. Go figure.

  12. Nicole

    I started off both my pregnancies obese and gained very little weight–about 15 pounds. The funny thing was that I gained that 15 over the length of the pregnancy with the first baby and then in the first 4 months with the second. It was almost like my body said, “Oh! You’re pregnant! Here’s your allotted 15 extra pounds!” because I gained almost nothing for the rest of the pregnancy. I had very mild GD with the first (starting at 36 weeks and controlled by diet and exercise) but didn’t have it with the second. My blood pressure remained low throughout both pregnancies, and I had healthy, reasonably sized babies (7lb12oz and 8lb6oz, respectively).

    The thing that I noticed in both pregnancies was that it really felt like my body “worked” for the first time in my life. I ate well and didn’t gain weight easily and when I had the babies, the weight came off right away (plus some extra!). What sucked is that about 6 months post-partum (when I switched from exclusive breastfeeding to adding in solids), everything went haywire again. I didn’t change the way I was eating or exercising and yet gained back the weight I had lost after giving birth and added more. (I think it has to do with having PCOS.)

    I think the message that seems to be the most prevalent is that if you’re fat, you should wait until you’re NOT fat to have a baby. I had an endocrinologist tell me that, actually. If I had decided to follow her advice, my husband and I would still be childless today. Instead, we have two beautiful, intelligent children. I’m glad I followed my heart.

    • Shaunta

      I felt the same way when I was pregnant–like everything had just slid into place and my body was working properly for the first time ever. When I was pregnant the third time I was considerably older (mid-30s vs. very early 20s) and the baby was much larger. I was uncomfortable, but I still felt like digestively and otherwise, my body was working just well. Then it crashes all in when the baby is born.

      I don’t have PCOS.

      • katja

        this is so fascinating to me! Thank you for sharing. Most of us feel like we are going haywire when we are pregnant…

        • Nicole

          I have never felt better physically than when I was pregnant. Sure, I had some aches and pains and sleep was tough toward the end, but I really felt like it was what my body was meant to do. Of course, one of my great grandmothers had 17 children, so maybe it IS what I was meant to do. πŸ™‚

          • katja

            again, I love the posts about how mamas felt so good while pregnant. I wish more of these positive stories were around rather than the cliched ones. I had a little back aches, some dyspepsia, but otherwise, I felt pretty good too (I think my husband would beg to differ πŸ™‚

    • katja

      I remember having a patient who breast fed until her daughter was 4 partly because she felt so much better. her migraines were better, weight etc. These stories have been so interesting for me, certainly nothing I was exposed to in my medical training. Also, we just often didn’t have the time to really listen, I think. it goes to show how much we DON’T know about hormones and weight and health… I am sad that fat women are being told not to have babies… Not OK… My friend is an amazing person who would be the best mom, and she’s been told the same thing.

    • Kirsten

      Your last paragraph has really struck a chord with me, as the 4 specialists I’ve seen have all sent me packing with the same advice: lose weight and come back and see me, or, if you’d just lose everything will fix itself and you’ll get pregnant. Seriously, that is verbatim.

      the fact of the matter is, I am now 38, going to be 39 in September. I have PCOS. I have not had a cycle in about 8 months-which is just a guess, as I can’t recall when the last one was, actually. It’s now too late for me. I will never have a family, because I’m fat, and I am furious about it. I’m furious at the doctors for not helping me. I’m furious that other fat women are having babies and have families (not furious at the women, just furious that they are having babies and I am not!). I’m furious at my body that just will not–would not ever–cooperate. But what I’m furious about most of all is that they (the medical community) will allow a 70 year old woman the chance to get pregnant using donor eggs and sperm, but not a fat woman. YOu can not tell me that my fat and PCOS puts me at more risk than an elderly woman.

      Anyway, sorry to rant fairly OT! πŸ™‚

      • katja

        Sounds like the rant is well-deserved. I’m saddened by your experience and angered. If it was simple, do they not think you would have “just lost the weight?” As the stories readers have shared, it is WAY more complex than “just lose the weight.” I am sorry for your pain. I hope that you are getting help and support. You might try reaching out to the folks at “Well-rounded Mama” for some support/resources/insight. I hope that somehow you get your family, however that may be. It makes me see all the more why the internet will be a powerful resource for women like yourself. When the “experts” are behind the times, we need to find other ways of supporting ourselves and each other. (I also like the FEAST forum for parents of kids with eating disorders for the same reason…) Hang in there, and from the bottom of my heart, I wish you the best.

  13. Kate

    I started off pregnancy overweight and gained 42lbs. Weight was mentioned once or twice to me, but at the time I felt like I had no control over the rate I was gaining. I had a 6lb 10oz baby and lost about 20 of the pounds within the first few months postpartum. After that, my weight loss completely stalled (despite exclusive breastfeeding until 13 months!), and my BMI was well into the obese range until my daughter was almost 2 years. At that point I got serious about weight loss and now almost a year later I’ve lost 25 pounds, so am slightly below my pre-pregnancy weight. I’m glad my midwives didn’t hound me about my weight, but I do regret not being more conscientious about eating and exercise as those last 20-25 pounds were very hard to lose and I was very uncomfortable, physically and emotionally, at such a high weight. It was especially hard to see friends and coworkers drop all their pregnancy weight really quickly. If I do get pregnant again, I’m going to exercise more often and back away from the Dairy Queen because I don’t want to go through another 2-3 years of being frustrated with my body.

    • katja

      I wonder when you say you felt like you had not control over the weight gain, if you think that backing away from the Dairy Queen would have made a big difference? I don’t know. I do know, that for me, and many others, that conscientious restriction, as in, “Oh no, I should eat less, or shouldn’t eat that” often means eating less than one wants, obsessing about the forbidden food, then eating way more than one might have otherwise if it was just incorporated into a balanced, rewarding meal and snack routine…

      • Kate

        Sorry, just seeing your response now. You’re right that I’m conflicted about what I think I could have done differently since at the time my weight gain felt out of control. Looking back now though, the major differences in my pregnancy diet vs. non-pregnancy diet were way more simple carbohydrates like pasta and bread, because they soothed my stomach, and way more dessert. I’m not talking about a pint of ice cream every night, but non-pregnant I don’t even eat ice cream because I don’t enjoy it that much, but pregnant I saw eating ice cream as the thing that pregnant women do so I did it about once a week.

        For me at least, the issue wasn’t really that I was restricting and then ended up eating more, but that pregnancy/I deserve this/eating this makes me feel better overrode common sense about portion sizes and a balanced diet.

  14. Shaunta

    I’ve had three babies. Two were in the 6-7 pound range and my last one was nearly 10 pounds. With all three I lost about 40 pounds during pregnancy and then had a very rapid weight gain in the months following giving birth, despite no change in my diet. When I got pregnant the first time I weighed about 220 pounds, went down to about 180, and then about a year after she was born I weighed 260, then stabilized at 240. I got pregnant again at about 240, went down to 200, and a year later weighed about 280 and stayed there for the next 11 years, no matter what I did. I got pregnant the third time at 280, went down to about 240. With this baby, the weight gain didn’t stop for three years and I ended up weighing about 340, which is what I weigh now (my youngest is six.) The weight gain after giving birth is a little scary, to be honest, because it’s so rapid and it feels very out of my control, which is unpleasant. Other than this up and down with pregnancy, my weight stays very stable.

    • Nicole

      Word, Shaunta! This is exactly what happened to me! (See below.) Do you have PCOS?

    • katja

      again, I think there is so, so much we don’t understand about hormones and weight and all that goes on there… Interesting. thanks for sharing! I’d love to hear what the standard “calories in, calories out” folks would say about your story. Sad thing is, I think many wouldn’t believe you. I can imagine how scary it is if your habits are inchanged and your weight is changin, either up or down. Several comments mentioned how little control people felt in terms of weight gain. When I gained rapidly early on, I was eating far less than the last six months when I gained only a few pounds.

  15. Heidi

    I was grateful that I was never once weighed in my special endocrine-issue (PCOS and hypothyroidism in my case) maternity clinic while in the UK. They were proactive about checking my thyroid levels every month and had me do finger-stick tests because of the increased risk of GD due to PCOS, and did all the other routine maternity stuff (urine tests, blood pressure, etc.) but weight was never an issue.

    • katja

      Wow! I’m so glad it was a positive experience. I need to learn more about that. I think with my standard training (long time ago, though!) I would have been nervous about not weighing. I know there are studies out there about weight, and Well-Rounded Mama blog has something on this, so I’ll have to check it out!

  16. hayley

    i gained 45 in my first pregnancy, which is considered a lot (from 145 lb to 190). thankfully i have an awesome midwife who doesn’t care and makes no comments other than “you’re supposed to be gaining.” instead she would look at the overall picture of my health (blood pressure, urinalysis) to see if there were indicators for diabetes and such.
    my mother would always make comments like “we weren’t ALLOWED to gain that much” or “my doctor would have gotten me in trouble for that.” it just makes me so angry that her generation had that mindset!

    • katja

      It seems to misogynistic too. My mom talks about how her male OB who smoked and was “fat” lecturing her about being lazy and not losing her baby weight (at her 8 week visit…) All so sad and pointless. Maybe they were advised to have a few cigarettes so they wouldn’t gain as much weight πŸ™‚

    • Samantha C

      you know, I’m not sure I ever stopped to question that mindset before. But your comment made me wonder – who are we getting in trouble with? If the doctor tattle-tales to someone that we didn’t lose weight, what authority do we imagine that they have over us? Are they going to stop treating us? Are they going to be our parents? Are they going to come to our house and clean out the fridge?

      Just somehow reading your comment put a lot of things in perspective for me. The worst thing that happens is they get hostile, and the patient is forced to seek a new doctor, which is of course unpleasant and difficult and all…but if I’m a grown-up woman, no doctor should be “allowing” me to weigh a certain amount!

      • katja

        it is tough! doctors have a lot of power in some ways. They can put things in charts, effect insurance etc. I agree that we should find other docs, but sometimes it may be the only gig in town. Many fat adults simply stop going for preventive care because of the way they are treated. But, you’re right, you can vote with your feet!