In the last ten years practicing obstetrics, I’ve heard countless women state they entered pregnancy with a higher body weight than they would have liked. I’ve counseled patients in the preconception time period regarding optimizing health prior to pregnancy and for many this includes recommendations for weight reduction to enhance the ability to conceive and decrease the risk of complications associated with pregnancy.
As with many of you, I found myself ten pounds above my “fighting weight” when I recognized I was pregnant. Not only did the scale reflect a higher number, I couldn’t even make the claim it was “good healthy weight” (does that really exist?). It was ten pounds reminiscent of eating out, imbibing and allowing myself a 3 month vacation from my daily exercise routine.
So, what did I do? Clearly, I vowed I was only going to gain twenty pounds during pregnancy. EASY. I know ALL the rules. I have ALL the tools. I am going to be a shining example for all of my patients about appropriate weight gain and healthy habits. Consider it done!
Fast forward to full term and forty pounds later: I doubled my intended weight gain goal and exceeded the recommended weight gain goals for pregnancy (25-35lbs with a starting body mass index (BMI) in the normal range). And I still have a few weeks to go!
Although I’d like to write this blog with a pint of Ben and Jerrys by my side and succumb to the inevitability of it all, I’m proud to admit I’m writing this having weight lifted twice this week, huffing and puffing through a prenatal yoga class, and meeting my goal of 10,000 steps on the weekends. The days I feel my best are the days I work hard during the day and also drag myself to exercise. Getting there is always the hardest part. Pregnancy is no different than the non-pregnant state in that a combination of diet and exercise is important for weight management. I could certainly have done a better job with my dietary habits, but I’m hoping that by staying active throughout the last 9 months, I’ve positioned myself and my daughter for a healthy delivery and recovery.
We encourage activity during pregnancy but it is important to remember a few key points. Your body is changing in many ways, both on the inside and outside. Notify any instructor of your pregnancy and ask for modifications in positioning or activity level to that which you are comfortable. Wear supportive shoes and hydrate aggressively. Your exercise tolerance is likely to change dramatically, your heart rate may increase and decrease at a different pace than pre-pregnancy; be sure to listen to the cues that your body gives you and allow yourself time to recover safely.
I’ve attached a few “staying active” pictures during pregnancy, but have decided to spare the internet and all of you the picture of me in a swim cap and maternity suit (although swimming in pregnancy is an activity I highly endorse and do enjoy). Please speak to your prenatal care providers regarding your personal pregnancy goals and restrictions. Happy trails!
Ilene Goldstein, M.D. is an ob/gyn physician with Virginia Beach Obstetrics and Gynecology, PC. She practices in Virginia Beach and Norfolk, VA. She and her husband, Len Futerman, DDS, are expecting their first daughter in November, 2015.