Karen Stealey of Long Island, New York, was determined not to gain a lot of weight in her pregnancy. "I watched all my friends gain 35, 45, and even 65 pounds. I did not want that to happen to me." Stealey has always been tiny—a size two or four. When she got pregnant, she went to a nutritionist, followed a food plan, and kept a food diary. She also continued to do yoga and a cardio class. Her net gain was 19 pounds, and her healthy baby weighed eight pounds, five ounces. Stealey is pleased that she now has no stretch marks or roll of fat or skin around her middle. "I think my experience is proof that if you don't just say, 'Oh, I'm pregnant, I'm going crazy;' you don't have to gain a lot of weight."
Striving for Gain
It can be difficult to gain weight during pregnancy, even if you want to. Although some weight gain is recommended in the first trimester, failure to gain is not a deal-breaker. Weight loss in the first trimester due to nausea, food aversions, or fatigue is not uncommon, explains Dr. Ellis. If you don't gain in the first trimester, talk to your healthcare provider, but don't panic. "Babies are very capable at extracting nutrients from our stored resources in the first trimester," she says. She cautions however, that failure to gain in the second trimester is a more serious problem.
Elizabeth Johnson of Lansing, Michigan, didn't gain a single pound during her third pregnancy, despite her efforts. Four and one-half months of morning sickness put a huge dent in her appetite. When she did eat, she was careful to choose very nutrient-dense foods in multiple food groups and did not count calories. "Everything was measuring OK, so my doctor wasn't concerned, but about my sixth month he started ordering more ultrasounds." Her baby weighed in at a healthy eight pounds, eight ounces. "At my postpartum check up, I was 25 pounds under my pre-pregnancy weight," she recalls.