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Scary Trend: Mommyrexia, the Fear of Pregnancy Weight Gain

Staying healthy during pregancy promotes normal weight gain and benefits your post-birth recoveryBy Kristin Sidorov
While “shedding the baby weight” is a struggle as old as time, a recent development in the battle against unwanted pregnancy pounds has reached a new and frightening place. Coined “mommyrexia,” women are doing everything they can to gain as little weight as possible during their pregnancy, despite dangerous health implications.

Defined as a growing problem that’s relatively isolated to wealthy women with time on their hands (as one doctor sniffed to The Today Show, “It’s an Upper East Side, white girl, obnoxious problem… I just find the whole thing vulgar”), mommyrexia is blamed on a reaction to A-list celebrities who manage to stay super-skinny during pregnancy and then shed their scant baby weight immediately after giving birth. But even in a world where thin will forever be in, many are in unanimous agreement that this is where the line must be drawn. Doctors, specialists, and healthy moms around the country agree: caring for your baby in the womb is a responsibility, and healthy weight gain is a part of that.

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There is no one-size-fits-all rule to healthy pregnancy weight gain. The amount depends on a lot of factors, but one thing is for sure: it matters. Baby’s healthy growth and development critically depends on it. Women who don’t gain enough weight during pregnancy tend to have weaker, sicker babies, higher instances of prematurity, and are at increased risk for health problems. Your doctor can note the right pregnancy weight gain for your body, and advise on how to go about it naturally while staying healthy.

General guidelines suggest that woman of normal weight should gain around 25-35 pounds total. That sounds like a lot, but keep this in mind: Most women lose half of their pregnancy weight in the first six weeks after delivery. Working at taking the rest of the weight off can be a challenge, sure, but it can be done, and is made easier if you stayed healthy and active throughout your pregnancy. Plus, you’ll know you did everything you can to have a healthy, happy baby. Who can deny that’s worth it?

As a working mom who looks healthy and fit after two babies, Mommy Diet author Alison Sweeney knows what it takes to look and feel great during pregnancy–and how to get back in shape post-baby. She suggests having healthy snacks, realistic wardrobe options, date nights post-delivery, and very attainable exercise goals that adhere to reality (especially if you’re recovering from a C-section).

Accepting that pregnancy will change your body, and ultimately affect the relationship you have with it, is important. Deciding to become pregnant isn’t just a trend — it’s a life change, an obligation, and it’s essential to realize that. There’s no question that the anxiety of gaining weight can be difficult to deal with, especially for women who have struggled with weight issues in the past.

Healthy weight gain doesn’t necessarily mean eating for two: you can reach your pregnancy weight gain goals by consuming an average of just 300 extra calories a day. Staying active while pregnant is also great for you and your baby (some studies even suggest it boosts baby’s cognitive development) and will help once it’s time to drop the weight. Staying focused and keeping the right perspective will help you reach your goals — much more than an obsessive, mommyrexic diet ever could.

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