Pregorexia

8.25.08: How thin is too thin when you're having a baby?

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There's a new buzzword taking the media by storm: Pregorexia. It's the new catch-all term to describe the growing trend of pregnant celebrities who seem to gain almost no weight during their pregnancies, then return to their stick-thin figures within days of delivering their babies. Think: Nicole Kidman. Nicole Richie. Angelina Jolie.

Is it a trend that the rest of us are buying into? Are we starving our babies for the sake of having a hip, fashionable, celebrity-inspired "baby bump?"

It's no secret that I haven't exactly been a model of a fit pregnancy. My weight swung toward the opposite spectrum, as I gained a lot more than the recommended 20-35 pounds. And most experts would agree that this is actually the trend that we should be most concerned about. Pregnant women are gaining too much weight. And despite what all the pregorexia reports might have you believe, bigger isn't necessarily better. Extra pounds can cause serious complications for both mom and baby. Some women who start their pregnancies on the heavy side may actually be surprised to find that their doctors recommend that they cut calories during pregnancy.

On the flip side, thin definitely isn't in when it comes to your baby's health. "Women who are thin at the time they get pregnant and gain too little weight are more likely to deliver babies who are premature or small," says Robert L. Goldenberg, M.D., professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Alabama. "The thinner you are, the greater your risk."

So, how much weight should you gain? Every pregnant woman should discuss nutrition and appropriate weight gain with her doctor. Here are some general guidelines, plus a chart to show you where all those pounds go. And if you're already overweight and expecting, here's how to have a healthy plus-size pregnancy.

In the end, remember that pregnancy can be a time to let go of your hang-ups about weight, to make a fresh start and be the healthiest you can be for you and your baby. You may even find, as you embrace your new pregnant shape, that you'll grow to love your body like never before.

Dana Rousmaniere is FitPregnancy.com's Managing Editor. It took her more than a year to lose her pregnancy weight.

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