Recently I was looking through old photos saved on my computer (I have over 30,000), and I came across this one from November 2009, two months after Lydia was born. Um, yikes.
I’m not even sure I know who this person is, but I think it’s me, right? When I was pregnant with Lydia I gained almost 50 pounds. Why? Because I listened to the old “You’re eating for two” advice people give to pregnant women. WRONG!
Here’s the math: I started out at 132 pounds. Clearly I was not carrying two of myself. Even if my child was 10 pounds at birth, that would be 10/132 or about 1/13 of my weight, which would equal .o7. You are not eating for 2; you are eating for 1.07. Think about that.
As a pregnant woman, you definitely should be consuming more calories than usual, especially once that morning sickness phase passes and your fetus is growing, but not twice as many as usual. When I was pregnant the first time, I was a pescatarian (a seafood-eating vegetarian). While I did consume a great deal of vegetables and fruit, I also ate a lot of carbs – pasta, rice, potatoes – and fried foods. I remember going to Ale House for dinner once and ordering a giant platter of fried clams and French fries. Another time, I went to Checker’s and ordered their seasoned fries and a milkshake. I had this idea that I was ‘eating for two’ and this was a time to indulge. Fail.
So, okay, I was up 50 pounds the day I went into labor with Lydia. But I would lose a lot of that during delivery, right? WRONG! Lydia was almost 8.5 pounds, and I left the hospital only losing 11 pounds. Wait, so I had to go home and lose 40 pounds still?! As someone who was always either underweight or average, I had no idea what to do. In the picture above, I had probably lost about 30 pounds total (the 11 at the hospital and 19 more at home). It was taken more than 2 months after she was born, when I was starting to feel thinner.
Five years and another pregnancy later, I weigh about 60 pounds less than my highest weight, so why does any of that matter? Here’s why:
- My pregnancy with Lydia was miserable. I gained so much weight so quickly, that I had horrible lower back pains. I went for massages and slept on the couch because it was more comfortable, but everything ached, my thighs were chafed, and it was difficult to get around. Plus, the heartburn was bad. I chose to eat poorly and felt miserable as a result. So if you experience having heartburn, find more on how you can prevent and reduce it.
- My poor skin. I destroyed the center of my abdomen, my sides, the front of my thighs, and across my butt. Stretch marks everywhere. My second pregnancy (I ate a more balanced diet, free of fried foods and all those carbs, and only gained 25 pounds) actually lessened my stretch marks. Still, they are there, and I’m proud to have carried two healthy babies, but I could’ve watched my health better to improve the quality of my skin after.
- I was not providing my body with enough nutrients. Eating an unbalanced diet meant that I was borderline anemic and had to take Iron supplements. I did, because that’s what I was told to do then (I was a much more compliant patient at that time), but I would’ve done much better on my own if I had eaten a more nutrient-dense diet.
- I believe this affected my ability to deliver Lydia vaginally. I didn’t have the stamina, energy, or physical capability to move around as much as I should have. Labor and delivery can only be equated to running a marathon (at least when you labor over 20 and 30 hours like I did), so you need a lot of endurance to succeed with minimal intervention.
So to all you pregnant women out there, eat a balanced, healthy diet for one (+ a little more). Focus on fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, lean proteins, quality dairy, and some whole grains. Avoid sodium as that will cause a lot of swelling, especially in your feet and ankles. It can also raise your blood pressure significantly. Snack often and be sure to drink lots of water.
Take good care of your body and that little one growing inside you so you feel better about yourself both physically and emotionally after baby is born.