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Depressed Over Pregnancy Weight Gain

Depressed Over Pregnancy Weight Gain

By Amalah

Dear Amalah,

I’ve been following your advice on alphamom.com and it’s been wonderful.

I’m 30 and having my first child. I’m over the moon and so excited to meet him or her. But I am so so unhappy with how I look and how much weight I have gained.

I am only 15 weeks pregnant and have already gained 11 pounds ~ I didn’t have morning sickness and so started packing on the pounds from day one.

I’m worried as I estimate at this rate by the time I’m 30 weeks it will be 22 pounds if not more, and by 40 weeks I’ll probably be up to 33 or more as they the last few weeks is when you put on the most weight.

I’m having nightmares, crying about it during the day, I haven’t left the house in over a week and I have given up socializing because I feel so uncomfortable. I’m at a loss of what to do.

I will not starve my baby…
I exercise a minimum of 30 minutes 5/6 times a week (easy cycling)
I am also very conscious of what I eat, keeping it healthy and natural.
I really try to limit my unhealthy snacks!

I cannot see where I am going wrong or why my body is failing me.

Any advice you have for me would be so much appreciated. I’m feeling extremely lost and overwhelmed with this all.

Kind regards,
T

Oh, pregnancy weight gain. It’s a tough topic. You need to gain weight, yes. But not too much, or too quickly, and God forbid you gain any of it in your ass as opposed to that perfect little “I’ve swallowed a watermelon or maybe just ate a big sandwich” all-in-front baby bump shape society has weirdly come to idealize. And God forbid you feel sad or self-conscious about your changing shape, pregnancy isn’t a time for vanity, you selfish monster.

All that said: I am far less concerned about your weight gain than I am about your feelings about your weight gain. Nightmares and crying and avoiding social situations are the real issues here, not the number on the scale. Saying your body is “failing” you with an otherwise healthy pregnancy is very, very worrisome language.

Eleven pounds in the first 15 weeks could be simple water weight and bloat — especially if you’ve been craving salty foods and snacks. It could be that you were underweight before and your body is simply making sure you get caught up and into a more healthy weight range as quickly as possible. And never in my experience (pregnancy x 3), was the first trimester weight gain any sort of reliable number I could use to figure out how much weight I’d put on by week 40. It just doesn’t really work out that way — it’s not always a steady march week by week or month by month.

And look, some women just gain more weight than others, even with virtually identical diets/exercise plans. It can be genetic (like how much your mother gained) or just tied to your pre-pregnancy weight and body type. And the weight gain recommendations are all over the freaking place. Even your worst-case scenario of 33 pounds at 40 weeks is hardly a shocking number. A woman in a healthy weight range pre-pregnancy should expect to gain between 25 and 35 pounds. And no, ending up in the low end of that range is not automatically “better” or means you win an award for Most Virtuous Pregnancy Eater.

Here’s what I want you to do. Put the scale AWAY. Stop weighing yourself at home. The next time you get on the scale it’ll be at your doctor’s office, at your prenatal appointment, when you can then have a reasonable, informed discussion with your OB about your weight and estimated calorie intake. Rapid weight gain (like 3 pounds in a single week) in the second and third trimester can indicate preeclampsia, but 11 pounds put on fairly steadily over 15 weeks doesn’t sound like that’s what’s going on. Your doctor might recommend checking the sodium content in your food more closely, or try a few food swaps to ensure your getting optimal nutrition rather than empty calories.

But I actually don’t want you to wait until your next prenatal appointment to have that conversation with your doctor. I want you to call your doctor today, like NOW. And not about your weight, but the fact that you are very likely struggling with prenatal depression. Tell him or her about the crying, the nightmares, the fact that you won’t leave the house and have developed a serious obsession with weight and how much weight you’ll gain as your pregnancy progresses — these are the symptoms I suspect will concern your doctor MUCH MORE.

Weight gain is an inevitable, normal part of pregnancy. Your emotions about it right now, not so much, and you don’t have to go through your pregnancy feeling like this.

In addition, here is  a list of other resources on prenatal/antenatal depression and anxiety:

Depression in Pregnancy (American Pregnancy Association)
Depression During Pregnancy (postpartum.net)
Depression During Pregnancy (Baby Center)
Pre/Antenatal Depression (PANDAS)
Depression During Pregnancy (Postpartum Progress)
The Truth About Prenatal Depression (SheKnows)

Published January 27, 2016. Last updated March 27, 2018.
Amalah
About the Author

Amy Corbett Storch

Amalah

Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Ama...

Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it’s pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to [email protected].

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.

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