All of me | Fit Pregnancy

All of me

There'’s a reason for each pound you put on during pregnancy, but some women find the weight gain disturbing. Here's how to love that growing body.


{past problems resurface}  Pregnancy can also trigger negative feelings from the past. When Tracy Brennan was a teen-ager and a young woman in her 20s, she never felt thin enough or busty enough. But with the help of a therapist, she eventually learned to accept and even like her body  —  until she became pregnant for the first time at 30.
    “I panicked,” says the now 43-year-old owner and host of the St. Louis program “Radio Fit America.” “I was afraid I’d lose that sense of comfort about my body I’d worked so hard for. I would think, ‘I’m going to be fat forever, and I can’t do anything about it.’”
    What she needed, in part, was to remember that her growing body was nourishing a new life. “A friend made me look through a week-by-week pregnancy guide every single week of my pregnancy,” says Brennan. “I read about what was happening inside my body, and it really helped me feel connected to the baby.”
    After her baby was born, Brennan easily lost the 50 pounds she’d gained. She went on to have three more children, and with each pregnancy she became more comfortable with the way her body looked and felt. “With my first two pregnancies, I panicked about how I’d ever get the weight off. I’d start obsessing and eating more — that was how I dealt with my fear. I had a perpetual excuse to eat: ‘I’m pregnant, and I don’t feel good,’” she says. “But the fact that I lost all my weight between each baby was reinforcement that I could stabilize and not worry about it. I’d say to myself, ‘Honey, you’re OK. You worked your way through it before, and you can do it again.’ By my fourth pregnancy, I just accepted it.”

{do the right thing}  Although Landes and Brennan struggled to accept their bodies, they did eat enough so their weight gains were healthy. Some women, however, go so far as to dangerously restrict their calorie intake, which can result in premature birth and an underweight baby.
    “Inadequate nutrition is associated with an increased risk of growth problems, or what’s known as fetal growth restriction,” says Bruce Shephard, M.D., clinical associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of South Florida College of Medicine in Tampa and co-author of The Complete Guide to Women’s Health (Penguin Press, 1997). This syndrome can be associated with neurological problems, learning disabilities and even cerebral palsy. And although poor nutrition is only one of many factors that may restrict fetal growth, it is still a significant contributor.
    Pregnancy is not a time to diet but rather to focus on the health of the baby-to-be. As Brennan says, “During my pregnancies, I gained weight in my face, thighs, arms — everywhere. At some point I realized my body wants all this weight.”
    It was the birth itself that caused Landes’ self-image to turn around. “I was a little shocked when I left the hospital and still looked five months pregnant,” she says, “but what surprised me most was that it was OK with me. I looked at my body and thought, ‘I’m really proud of this. This was for Benjamin, and it was really worth it.’” She feels now that if she was to get pregnant again, she’d be much more comfortable with her body. “Now I know how wonderful the reward is on the other side,” she says.


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