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You’ve heard plenty about the childhood obesity epidemic. What you may not know is that moms-to-be are contributing to the problem. When women weigh too much at conception or gain too much during pregnancy, they can set their children on the path to obesity and add to the next generation’s weight struggles.
If you’ve ever wondered how on earth celebrities seem to snap back into shape so quickly after having a baby, well the answer may not be as unattainable as you may think.
In fact, one of the best-kept secrets of Hollywood moms is the Belly Bandit compression garment, which helps to shrink the belly, waist and hips and has a whole host of other benefits for the post-pregnancy body.
Last week, at the beginning of week 11, I had my first prenatal appointment with a fantastic midwife, Penni Harmon, C.N.M., at Oregon Health & Sciences University (OHSU) Hospital in Portland. James and I had been anticipating the appointment so we could hear the baby’s heartbeat for the first time.
With a baby on the way, chances are your to-do list is plenty long: Get the nursery in order. Sign up for childbirth education classes. Speak with your benefits manager. It may seem like there aren’t enough hours in the day, which can make the task of prepping and eating healthy meals and snacks seem overwhelming.
Whether you’re planning a pregnancy, entering your second trimester with your first baby, or contemplating having a third baby, you’ve likely thought about the weight gain—and looming struggle to get it off afterwards—at least a few times. And, if you’re starting out with even a few extra pounds on your frame from the last pregnancy, as many moms already are, the physical and emotional toll on your body can be a daunting one.
When I was expecting, I didn’t think too much about my weight. In the first trimester, I was so nauseous that I lost weight from not eating enough on most days. When I started feeling better, I was thrilled to be gaining weight—to me it was a sign that my baby and I were healthy, so I never paid too much attention to the number on the scale at the doctor’s office. If my OB-GYN said my weight gain was fine, I took her word for it.
“I finally wanted something more than I wanted to be thin—I wanted a baby.”
-Amanda Swartfager, Valrico, Fla.
I was in college and working nearly full time when my problems with eating became the worst. I would go weeks barely eating anything and exercising off every calorie I consumed.
Eventually, I would break down and eat until I was about to explode. Then I’d vomit, which at first made me feel relieved. But as soon as the rush wore off, the compulsions and obsessions returned.
In the past, most women who were pregnant with twins were advised to gain 35 pounds to 45 pounds, regardless of their prepregnancy size. But more recent guidelines from the Institute of Medicine are individualized to give twins a greater chance to be born healthy to a healthy mother.
"The newer weight-gain guidelines are tailored to your prepregnancy body mass index [BMI]," says Susanne Tout, R.D., L.D., IBCLC, clinical program coordinator and dietitian at the Texas Children's Hospital Fetal Center Program for Multiples in Houston.
Three decades ago, maternal-fetal medicine specialist Yvonne Thornton, M.D., was determinedly shedding the 67 pounds she gained during her first pregnancy when she found out she was expecting another baby. Thornton vowed not to let that derail her healthy eating habits again. “There was a strong dictum back then that no matter what you weighed, you should gain 26 to 35 pounds during pregnancy or risk fetal death,” says Thornton, now an OB-GYN professor at New York Medical College.
Nearly 30 percent of American women today are obese when they begin their pregnancies. This means they have a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or higher, as would a 5-foot-4-inch woman who weighs 175 pounds. Now, how much weight these women should gain while pregnant is being debated.