The Skinny on Staying Skinny
There is a common misperception that all or most of the weight gain in a healthy pregnancy should go straight to the belly. In fact, the experts say that women who gain weight only in the stomach (creating those cute basketball tummies) are the exception and should not be looked to as ideals.
"When women gain only in the abdominal area, it usually means that they have not gained enough weight," says Dr. Ellis. Most women gain weight everywhere during pregnancy, and there is no way to control where those pounds will go. The goal is not only to gain enough weight to grow a baby, but also to allow your body to build up fat stores so that you can successfully breastfeed.
Dr. Ellis adds, "Failure to gain enough weight creates a 50-percent risk of having a baby who is low birth weight." Low birth weight babies have higher risks for infant mortality, admission to intensive care, cerebral palsy, sight and hearing problems, and learning difficulties. Women who do not gain enough weight in pregnancy face elevated risks of anemia, preterm labor, and osteoporosis later in life. According to Dr. Ellis, "The more underweight you are, the more risk there is."
Slim and Pregnant
For many women, body image and a lifelong focus on being thin are powerful attributes which are difficult to move past. Molly Kimball, RD, sports and lifestyle nutritionist at the Ochsner Clinic Foundation Elmwood Fitness Center in Louisiana says, "I find there are societal pressures across the board to be thin. It's a huge compliment to many women that they are tiny except for their belly."