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Happily Gaining Weight

32 weeks, taken last week
32 weeks, taken last week

First, I apologize. You’re about to be inundated with pregnancy selfies. Feel free to skip this post. I debated whether or not I should even share all of these. They aren’t great quality pictures. Still, they help to tell a story. The story of a girl who was once terrified of tipping the scale by 5 pounds, turned into a woman who is amused by her changing body. I wanted to share them in case any other expectant moms are scared or wondering or worried what will happen during pregnancy. I’ll repeat this postpartum and talk recovery also.

Second, I want to share what “normal” pregnancy weight gain is said to be. Because I jumped on Baby Center and bought the What to Expect When You’re Expecting book early on, and read something like this:

“If your pre-pregnancy weight was in the healthy range for your height (a BMI of 18.5 to 24.9), you should gain between 25 and 35 pounds, gaining 1 to 5 pounds in the first trimester and about 1 pound per week for the rest of your pregnancy for the optimal growth of your baby.”

This has not been my experience. In the first trimester, I gained eleven pounds. I did not get morning sickness. By 6 weeks, I was getting terrible cramps when I ran, so I quit running. I was hungry all the time. I was TIRED all the time. I loathed vegetables and wanted carbs. LOADS of carbs!! The year prior to getting pregnant, I had gone vegan (for mainly moral, but also health reasons). I was feeling great, had a ton of energy and less joint pain when running! And then, all of the sudden, the thought of vegetables made me want to puke, unless they were wrapped in a tortilla, or mixed in with pasta, or sandwiched by a bagel.

This was the result:

5 weeks-My before belly
5 weeks-My before belly
6 & 8 weeks--left to right
6 & 8 weeks–left to right

It seems beyond silly now, but at this point I thought I was showing. I had gained 6ish pounds by 8 weeks. Yoga pants are stretchy & don’t reflect the major muffin top that was beginning to form. Moving on….

9 weeks, 8ish pounds
9 weeks, 8ish pounds

The beginnings of a bump, finally. Also, you can see the muffin top that I was talking about. By this point I was also using a hair tie to button my pants.

10 weeks, morning to evening
10 weeks, morning to evening

Ha ha! Excuse the bed-head and unbrushed teeth. This picture was taken the same day–after waking up, and when I got home from work. I was trying to show my mom how much my belly would grow during the day. It’s much harder to see now, but I thought there was a huge difference. From 10 weeks through most of the second trimester, I would bloat like a dead cow with every meal or snack that I ate throughout the day. I also went through a panic attack because I quit gaining weight. At 10 weeks, I had gained 10 pounds and pretty much plateaued there until almost 15 weeks. Baby was fine and measuring a little big at all appointments.

12 weeks
13 weeks, 11 pounds

I think I was 13 weeks here, but it might have been 14. By this point, you could see the bump. I was feeling a lot more energy and able to eat steamed or raw veggies without carbs again. My diet became a little more normal. I did not stay vegan through my pregnancy because my body was craving protein. I’ve eaten a lot of eggs, dairy, and even some chicken and fish. I don’t count calories, but I do keep track of protein and aim for 75 or more grams a day. I eat when I’m hungry. I try to eat mostly whole, organic foods. Sometimes (3-4 times a week) I splurge and have crackers or a bagel or bread. I eat a small piece of chocolate (usually a square of Chocolove dark chocolate with sea salt and almonds) after lunch and after dinner most days.

The second trimester I got really bad about taking belly pictures. Here’s what we have. I don’t know exactly what weeks these were taken, but I know the order since they were taken on my iPhone.

Visit to mom & dad's, 2nd tri
Visit to mom & dad’s, 2nd tri
Ready for work, feeling BIG
Ready for work, feeling BIG
Hiking, I'm pretty sure week 26-27
Hiking, I’m pretty sure week 26-27

I’m pretty sure this is week 26 or 27. I know it was near the end of my second trimester. By the end of the second trimester, I had gained 25 pounds. After that plateau in the beginning, I had a couple weeks where I gained 4 pounds a week. I know a lot of women only gain 25-30 pounds through their pregnancy. I’m not one of them. And I don’t feel like I’ve had an unhealthy pregnancy or used this time as an excuse to eat a bunch of crap.

29.5 weeks, 30ish pounds
29.5 weeks, 30ish pounds
30 weeks, 32ish pounds
30 weeks, 32ish pounds

And the very last picture that I have, is the first picture posted–32 weeks, and 35ish pounds gained. I weigh the same now at almost 33 weeks. I’m expecting to gain anywhere from 40-45 pounds total. Maybe even 50! I’m happy with this–as long as this little guy is growing strong and healthy. I feel good and still walk 30-40 minutes every day. I do yoga 3 times a week and some form of weights, barre, or Traci Anderson’s method 2-3 times a week. My blood pressure is on the low side of normal.

At my 30 week appointment, we saw a new midwife. There are three that work at the office where we go for prenatal care, and we have only seen the other two for all previous appointments. I got super frustrated when she took one look at my chart and said, “Whoa, girl! Do you need some diet advice so you can maintain your weight the rest of your pregnancy?….I mean, you know not to drink your calories, and that you can work up a sweat exercising, right?”

I know she was just meaning to be helpful, but I know nutrition.I’ve studied it!  I’m not eating perfect, but I feel confident that what I am eating is very healthy. A sample from yesterday: Fage greek yogurt with walnuts & banana, mid morning snack of a rice cake topped with hummus & nutritional yeast, lunch was a large spinach salad & these vegan, lentil-walnut “meat”balls (sans the sauce), and half a sweet potato, afternoon snack was cottage cheese and an orange, around 5 I had my chocolate squares (2), and dinner was a grilled chicken breast, half an acorn squash stuffed with 1/3 cup cooked brown rice & 1 tbsp parmesan cheese, and a micro-greens salad with apple, dried cranberries, and pumpkin seeds.

If I gain too much weight eating like that most days of the month, I don’t care. What I do care about is that the life that is depending on me seems to be growing steadily and seems healthy. I pray that he will continue to be! What I do care about is that I feel really good and still exercise daily. What I do care about is how grateful that I am to go through this experience feeling lucky and blessed to GAIN weight, even if it’s more than I “should.” What I do care about is that I have way more love for this little guy than I knew was possible, and I have more love and respect for myself as a result.

Wishing all moms to be a healthy, happy pregnancy–no matter what the scales say!

-Keri

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