Digesting and Reframing Scary Pregnancy Stats

reframing1Back in June when I began blogging, I divulged that pregnancy is something that I am excited for in the near future, but also fearing to some extent, given my past (and present) history with body image issues, weight struggles and disordered eating behaviors.

While we aren’t planning on starting a family in this very moment (my husband just began an MBA program at University of Michigan this fall, so ideally we’d like to wait a little longer), it’s been on my mind a lot more lately.

So when I came across this article, “Dieters Gain More Weight During Pregnancy” in the health section of the New York Times (coincidentally published on my birthday), I was immediately interested.

Though I consider myself someone who has made many (successful) lifestyle changes since I began my journey in April 2004, I am still attempting to restrict my caloric intake every day; it’s ritual now, habitual. I don’t think about it — I simply follow Weight Watchers, track my points, wear a heart rate monitor when I exercise.

So by those determining factors, I am considered a “dieter” — even though I feel like I’m doing it in a healthy way.

The article’s lead was alarming. “Women who have a history of dieting are more likely to experience excessive weight gain during pregnancy, a new study shows.”

It was like seeing my worst fears coming true: I’m “predestined” to see excessive weight gain during pregnancy simply because of my past history?!?! Even though I’m healthy now?!?!

It’s not that before reading this I didn’t fear this happening or something (this has been on my mind for a while now). Yet it was somehow different, if not disturbing, “hearing” it in a conclusive study.

Old Melissa would have dwelled on this, told her husband she was never getting pregnant and resolved to a miserable life spent at the gym.

New Melissa, blogging-and-improving-via-therapy-and-blogotherapy-Melissa, realizes this is a ridiculously irrational thought that needed massive reframing. (Thanks, Dr. G and CBT!)

So here’s my positive, PR-girl spin on it: All the more reason to make peace with my body now.

If I come to terms with that now, then hopefully when the time comes, I’ll be even further along this road to recovery and less anxious about food and exercise. I’ll be at a place where I am happy with my body and able to let things happen on their own accord.

Then maybe I won’t be one of those statistics.

Maybe I’ll be one of those women who is already in the healthy range, who has a healthy pregnancy and gains a healthy amount of weight for her baby.

I’d say that’s the biggest sacrifice of all, and one I’m truly feeling willing — if not eager — to make in the next year or two. (We’ll see!)

How about you? What was your pregnancy weight gain experience like? Had you dieted heavily before?

12 thoughts on “Digesting and Reframing Scary Pregnancy Stats

  1. Wow…that is an interesting article!

    While I’ve never been pregnant, many of my friends have in the last year or two. I have noticed a few “dieters” who gained more than they should, mainly (I think) because they saw it as the only time to eat whatever they wanted. I hope that those who just think of it as eating healthy (not depriving ourselves) wouldn’t go “buck wild” like that.

    I used to think I would be one of those who would just indulge in EVERYthing when I got pregnant, but I’m realizing more and more that if I indulge every now and then anyway, maybe I won’t have that need to do it when pregnant. 🙂

  2. I found pregnancy (3 times) wasn’t a free for all with the eating but I did allow myself more (ie milk/brown sugar/raisins in my oatmeal instead of water/splenda, full glass of OJ instead of half OJ/half water, for example), more snacks, bigger meals.

    I still exercised but I toned it down from running to walking. The “crazy” was still kind of there but I put it on the back burner for the 6 or so months I wasn’t puking or nauseous. It helped that it wasn’t about me for a change.

    I gained about 30-35 lbs each pregnancy and was quite lucky to find the weight basically came off after a few months of not so much work (ie dieting/workingout). It got harder when the kids got bigger and we had all this food around the house, however….and now they are teens and OH MY! This part of my life is hard!! (with all the food that’s around and the constant hunger)

  3. I have this fear too. I still am uncertain if I want to have a child or not, and my reasoning behind it is cloudy too. I feel shallow when I think about it or talk about it, but I really am scared of gaining a lot of weight if I get pregnant. And then there’s the whole postpartum depression thing too…being on anti-depressants and the state of my mental health (although I feel it has greatly improved), I’m scared of not only having a child, but how I’ll be after it.

    I suppose it just means that I’m not ready. When the time comes- whether or not I’m certain I do or don’t want to have a baby- I think I’ll know.

  4. great attitude! when I was bulimic I used tosit and think” am I going to be sneaking away from the dinner table to go purge while my kids eat their meals? Will they never be able to have treats in the house because i will eat them all in one night? Will I pass my body image issues onto them as they grow?” those were some of the main reason I sought treatment. I didnt want to be responsible for anyone else ever going through what I went through, especially not BECAUSE of me.

    Kelly Turner

  5. Statistics are funny things. I like to view them as proof that people sometimes have too much time on their hands.

    In my case, pregnancy brought about a huge weight gain, but not simply due to pregnancy. I have PCOS(poly cystic Ovarian Syndrome), and I had to lose 110 pounds in order to reset my body to bring back fertility in order to conceive. Weight gain is one side affect of PCOS, infertility is another. The root cause of the problem is insulin resistance, and another side affect is a high rate of miscarriage. i lost the weight, conceived, and then had a stillbirth at 8 months. With that pregnancy I gained 20 pounds and took it off quickly. I conceived again, began to experience problems with placental placement and other issues, and I was put on complete bedrest for 7 months. Because of stress( stemming from terror that I would lose another baby in the same way), and I mean extreme stress, I ate. Because of complications that I was experiencing I was put on a very high protein diet, which I over ate on. There was literal nothing else to do besides eat. End result was not only an 80 pound weight gain but a living, breathing , beautiful healthy boy weighing 11 lbs, 14 oz and measuring 23 1/2 inches long. Transverse, so he was a C section. The story did not turn totally happy after that, for he was diagnosed with Autism and the stress gave me a whole other reason to stress eat and take the family along with me. We have resolved a lot of those issues, and are on a journey together to lose weight. We have lost 148 pounds so far- give or take a few.

    My point is the study seems to be focusing on this stereotypical mindset that people only diet to be attractive, and after you have attracted a mate and breed, you do not care. Simply not true, and there are numerous reasons for a serious weight gain in pregnancy.However, there is always a way to undo the damage !

  6. Kristen, I see what you mean … I know I want kids, and I know I will deal with a lot given my history. Hopefully less so b/c I am taking care of it now, but we won’t know til we’re in the situation. You have time 🙂

    Hi Kelly! I do fear those things but hope over time they will become easier to digest. I don’t want to pass negative body image at all.

    Hi Di — oh I take all these stats with a grain of salt, but I do like to mention them when they arise. Because whatever is out today will be reversed in a year anyway 😉

    Wow, it sounds like you had quite a challenging time there — .and thank you for sharing. I am so glad to hear you and your family are losing weight together.
    ” there is always a way to undo the damage ” — I like that line; so long as it’s healthy — eating well, exercising.

  7. I truly believe that if you don’t treat pregnancy like a time to indulge in every super value meal you wouldn’t treat yourself to previously, your body will do what it needs to do. I gained 40 pounds and I ate like I usually do with a few extras here and there. And, it did take me 9 months to get rid of it (like the usual 9 months on/9 months off) but it was worth it. 🙂

  8. I think that’s very true, Staci — it’s not a license to indulge and since I am not prone to that anyway, there’s no reason to assume pregnancy would cause me to do that. But I do need to be particularly careful of what goes into my body, and it’s a good reminder.

  9. We won’t be considering it for some time, but it something I am afraid of. I am afraid of being out of control. I need to approach it with your mindset!

  10. Hi, hope this comment gets through I’m still pretty new to this whole blogging thing.
    good post! I found your blog while
    looking for other people’s weight loss stories. I’ve actually just started blogging about
    my weight loss success story – I lost over 30 pounds in a month
    with a diet I developed!

    I would love it if you could visit my weight loss blogand let me know what you think.
    Warmest wishes,

  11. I know this thread is from forever ago but I have to thank everyone for sharing. As a disordered eater in solid recovery for over 5 years I’ve just been completely thrown for a loop by pregnancy. Seeing this article is scary.

    I’ve gained 6 pounds in 3 weeks and I’m only 9 weeks along. It’s absolutely terrifying to feel that your body is once again out of your control when you’ve spent so much time learning to love and cherish it. While I’m trying (or think I’m trying) to eat healthily clearly a bit of free for all has crept in.

    It’s also very frustrating to have every moment of nausea only sated by crackers, pretzels and bread. I feel so at war with my body, my eating and once again with food. I wonder if I have to give over everything I’ve worked so hard to give myself in order to support this new life. Is that motherhood?

    I guess the only thing to do is go back to the beginning with journaling, forgive myself everyday and seeking support.

    Thank you everyone and thank you for this blog!

  12. Congrats on your pregnancy Susan, and I wish you a happy and healthy pregnancy!! I admit I am nervous to be there someday but I think that is the reality of motherhood: supporting new life, even at your own sacrifice, since it’s for a greater good. In time, I am sure it will feel that way.

    Thanks for stopping by!

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