By Kristin Sidorov
Pregnancy weight gain has always been a touchy subject for moms-to-be. Gaining the “right” amount of weight can be a fine, delicate line that’s difficult to tread—especially when it seems like everyone has an opinion on the matter. The slew of media attention surrounding Jessica Simpson’s pregnancy weight proves that everyone does—to the nth degree.
In her final month, she’s been called “a house,” “an absolute porker,” and plain “fat” from nearly every direction, it’s no wonder the issue has been a point of serious struggle and contention for moms everywhere, leading to backwards trends like “mommyrexia” in an effort to avoid the scathing stigma of baby weight. Tori Spelling came to Simpson’s defense, adding that pregnancy “is a really special time and you should be able to deal with it in your own terms.”
So really, how much is too much? Medically speaking, the average woman should put on about 25 to 35 pounds, but that number depends on a lot of factors, including pre-pregnancy weight and body mass index (BMI). Go too far over, and you can put you and your baby at risk for some serious complications, including gestational diabetes and problematic deliveries.
Women who gain more than their target amount during pregnancy also have a harder time losing the weight after giving birth, and studies show that women who don’t shed the extra pounds within six months are at a significantly higher risk of being overweight or obese in the long-term, which can lead to heart disease (the No. 1 killer of women), diabetes, and high blood pressure.
But focus too much on not gaining weight, and you could be putting your pregnancy at equal risk. The truth is—are you ready for it?—pregnancy requires weight gain, and 35 pounds is no small number. Adding some pounds is essential for healthy growth and development, and too little is associated with instances of prematurity, weakness, and other health problems.
The trick is keeping it healthy and drowning out the voices that tell you otherwise, regardless of what the scale says. As a general guideline, moms-to-be should gain a few pounds during the first trimester, followed by an average of a pound per week during months four through eight. Stay close to that game-plan, and you should be in the clear.
It’s important to note that pregnant women shouldn’t diet. Newsflash: it’s OK, even (gasp!) normal to be hungry (like, all the time), but the key is to stick to super-nutritious foods (like fresh fruits and veggies, tons of whole grains, and protein) and avoid over-indulging. Staying fit during your pregnancy goes hand in hand with a balanced diet, so stay active—and do your best to keep it up until the end.
The truth is, most of her critics are probably more concerned with Simpson’s image than her health, and that’s where things can get pretty dangerous. Each woman’s pregnancy is her own, and it’s important to remember that your and your baby’s well-being and happiness should be your top priority—not a number on a scale.