Pregnancy is a time of joy, but it can also be a time of stress and anxiety. Some women even experience depression during pregnancy and one of the culprits is sudden pregnancy weight gain.
This is not uncommon. Although research says that only 7% experience this, the number can go higher in low- and middle-income countries. There could be plenty of factors that can cause anxiety during pregnancy, and the most common is being unhappy about pregnancy body and weight gain. If you are pregnant and you are feeling this right now, please know that you are not the only one and there is always something you can do to make your pregnancy journey enjoyable and anxiety-free.
Gaining weight during pregnancy is normal and a sign of a healthy pregnancy. If you are feeling a little unhappy about it, here’s what to do with pregnancy weight gain.
What happens to your body during pregnancy weight gain
Getting pregnant also means your body is also going to start to change. Your breasts will become tender, larger, and heavier. You’re going to gain weight, and this weight gain plus the gravity slows down your blood circulation which results in fluid retention or swelling of your face and limbs. Your sense of taste and smell can also change and may crave food more than you did pre-pregnancy. These changes, along with the anxiety about what to expect can make you feel unattractive, unhealthy, and out of control even. You may feel extremely sad about this, and the thought of seeing a therapist will make you even sadder because you’d be worried about how other people might react.
Sounds bad? Yes, it does. But the good news is, that you can combat all of these unhappy thoughts and feelings.
Feel good about your pregnant body
This might not be easy at first, but trust that you can do it just like the other pregnant women out there who feel just like you do. If you feel bad about yourself or how your pregnant body looks, here are some of the things you can do to make yourself feel otherwise:
#1: Surround yourself with support.
A strong support system is essential—and when you say strong support system it means these people understand that you are in a unique situation that isn’t comparable to theirs, or of others. Be open about your feelings—with your partner, close friends, and especially with your doctor. Remember that there is nothing wrong with seeking professional help especially if you feel like something is not right.
#2: Stay active.
We get it, fluid retention during pregnancy can slow you down in doing any physical activity. However, this should not stop you from being physically active altogether. A few minutes of morning walk every day can help in improving your mood. Soaking in the morning sun is healthier than you could even imagine so take advantage of it. If you’re up for it, you can ask your doctor about what kind of exercise you can do depending on the stage of your pregnancy.
#3: Eat healthy foods.
Pregnant or not, eating healthy helps in improving your mood. Many of your body’s activities are controlled by neurotransmitters. These neurotransmitters can be stimulated by eating a certain food. For example, dopamine helps activate your sense of pleasure and increases your alertness and concentration. Serotonin helps manage your sleep and appetite, as well as balance your mood and reduce your pain and anxiety. You get a boost of these two neurotransmitters by eating lots of protein from red meat, fish, milk, eggs, and beans. On the other hand, endorphins help decrease feelings of pain, relieve anxiety and depression, and promote calmness. You get a boost of this by eating fruits and sweets, as well as exercise.
Eating healthy foods is also important as you need all the nutrients you can get to feed your baby, have a healthy pregnancy, and reduce the risk of complications. Therefore, you need to eat the right food and avoid the wrong ones. If you are unsure of what to eat and what to avoid, consult your doctor or nutritionist.
#4: Know when to get help.
Negative thoughts will always be there, but if they are starting to prevent you from having a happy, healthy, and worry-free pregnancy, it would be best to speak to a therapist. If you are starting to get obsessed with what and how frequent you eat, how much weight you gain, and even the number of clothes that no longer seem to fit, a mental health professional will help you touch base with the issues that keep you from accepting the changes in your body.
Yes, pregnancy doesn’t seem easy, especially when it comes with pregnancy weight gain, but it also doesn’t mean you shouldn’t enjoy the time you are carrying your little one. While it is normal to be worried about so many things during pregnancy, don’t forget that there are also plenty of things to be happy and excited about in this journey.
When I was gaining weight during pregnancy, it was mixed emotions. But the above ways helped me overcome the negative feelings I was having.
Just be honest with yourself, be open about your feelings, and never be scared to seek help if needed.