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A different kind of weight anxiety


I don’t usually worry about my weight much. I’m a little bit on the big side, but I’ve stopped worrying about it for years now because the only way I could be thinner is to eat very little and that has effects that are much worse than being on the large end of a size 12. I also don’t go in for any of that “I just want to be healthy’ bullshit. I am fairly healthy. I know this because I can run and move and bind in marichasana C. It’s got nothing to do with my weight, or size. Calling ‘thin’ ‘healthy’ doesn’t make people’s obsessive behavior any more bearable and diet chat is still tedious even when it’s disguised as health chat. So I’m not lying when I say weight and size are pretty low down on my list of things are worry about.

But now I’m pregnant I do worry about my weight (I sort of alluded to this on Friday). In the opposite way. Until week 19 now and I was still to break the 3 kilo barrier – even now, in week 20, when I finally got a bit of a growth spurt I have put on only about 3.5 -3.8 kilos. And it doesn’t seem a lot when the typical weight gain for someone my start weight/size is 12 kilos and I do worry about it, even though I know I shouldn’t.

While I was in Brussels, I weighed myself every morning like some kind of pavlovian dog, it was bizarre. Partly this is because I had these snazzy digital scales in my flat, and I don’t at home, so it’s just the gadget being there, but partly I was actually a little bit obsessed.

Rationally I know not to worry, that weight gain has no direct relation to the health or even size of the baby unless it’s extremely limited (less than 7 kilos), and that every pregnancy progresses differently, but I can’t stop. Being pregnant is such an alien thing and since no one has been pregnant I’ve been close enough to talk about this stuff in detail, I have no proper experience.* I have no idea what’s going on inside my belly and whether stuff is progressing normally, and with the not exactly very intensive NHS maternity care** weight (and belly size) is the one thing I can check myself.

It’s weird that at a time when many people seem to have better body image, I am somehow reverting to this stupid obsession!

* People do tell me stuff of course, but it’s all contradictory and one off.

** In Belgium, you get a scan every month. On the NHS you get two scans for the whole time and when I phoned up after an upset stomach with a belly that was pulsating to check if I needed to see a doctor in Brussels (which I would have had to pay for) I actually had my midwife tell me ‘oh that’s weird’ but that unless I was bleeding I was ‘probably’ ok and ‘you are week 17, there’s nothing a doctor could do to check anyway’ which I’m sure is a lie. And if I was belleding I’d hardly have waited til 4pm to call her, I’d have gone straight to hospital! She might be right to not get over worried but there are better ways to get this message across!

Update from Tuesday (I originally wrote this on Sunday): I had a different midwife at my appointment today, who was a bit more understanding of my clueless first time mother anxieties, so I don’t feel quite so complainy. And of course I’d like to point out that I’m not anti-NHS at all. I’d rather have a slightly malfunctioning system that looks after everyone than an US style system where everyone that doesn’t have insurance and can’t afford the fees gets no help whatsoever. And I don’t think the malfunctioning has anything to do with the way it’s funded, and certainly privatising it all a la Cameron isn’t going to fix anything. Sorry, politics!

p.s. the picture of bebe is from the 13 week scan. 20 week scan on Friday!

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Jane 1 August 2012, 7:46 am

    Please don’t worry. In my experieince. I have been pregnant 5 times. I have had 4 children and sadly lost a baby following an ectopic pregnancy at 6 weeks.
    During my 4 healthy pregnancies I put on under two stone each time and most of the weight didn’t start until month 5/6.
    In my experieince those women (my friends) who put on the most weight tended to be the tiny ones. I had one friend who was a size 6 and she put on 4 stone during each of her 3 pregnancies which she lost within 6 months.
    Again, it’s only my own experience and that of my friends but those who started at a healthy weight – I am talking about the to end of the healthy BMI range – tended to put on the least weight.
    As long as your healthcare professionals are telling you the baby is healthy then don’t worry about weight.
    My favourite pregnancy was my first.
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  • Desiree 1 August 2012, 9:49 am

    Well hellooooooooo there beautiful baby!!! You look so happy and relaxed in mama’s tummy:)). “Obsessed” is a word you’ll probably using a LOT for the next few years – take your pick, there’s a mighty long list of “obsessions” to choose from when it comes to mothering/parenting. Firstly, I don’t think you should even worry about the fact you’re “worried” about your pregnancy and baby. It’s a perfectly natural feeling and it’s not going away for, oh I don’t know, forever! Whatever you’re concerned about is a “valid” concern and you’ll have to pick your way around the health system to find sympathetic midwives/obs who LOVE their jobs and take a mother’s worries seriously. It sounds like you’ve already found someone nice who isn’t trying to belittle you and being flippant … she’s a keeper:). Your radar will stay on from now on, seeking out the best child-carers, nurseries, preschool, primary, extracurricular, secondary teachers, uni’s … the list goes on forever. I just want you to know that those feelings you’re having today are always going to be there in some form so don’t worry … trust your instincts about professionals and whether you feel you can trust them and that they care about you and your family.
    On the weight issue, I put on about 11kg for my first baby and he was almost a 9-pounder (I was 68kg at full term) – the weight didn’t really start showing up on the scales until well into the third tri.
    The Stylist was Baby #4 and I went from 58kg to 82kg by 41 weeks (8 days o/due). Woah!!! When I look back at all the pregnancy records I can’t believe I was so light the first time, so I understand your concerns.
    Big hugs to you Franca. xo
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  • Susan (Rad) 1 August 2012, 12:49 pm

    You are lovely person and I am always pleased to read that people accept their body as is, while still engaging in healthful activities. I have never had a child, but my experience from my friends, sister in law, mom (who had my sister when I was 13) was that no one is the same. While the idea that slender women tend to gain the most weight tends to me be true, I have very slender friends (BMI of 19 or 20) who didn’t gain any more than you around the same time. I met a petite girlfriend on Sunday who is 5 months along, and she looked exactly the same, but with a very slight belly bump (what I look like when I eat too many cookies). But I get the anxiety. Go with it and do what you have to do to assure yourself, but remember that everyone is so different.

  • Dora 1 August 2012, 2:02 pm

    I love your positive healthy approach.
    Glad you sorted the mid wife problem out.
    You will get throught it all.

  • Shawnta 1 August 2012, 3:16 pm

    I’m a lurker most of the time but I just had to jump in with some encouragement!!! I honestly did not start to gain weight with my first baby until my 6th month, people would say I was constipated not pregnant! LOL When I did start to gain weight I looked like the Michelin tire man!!!! I ended up gaining 35lbs which is 15-16 kgs I believe. Don’t worry, it sounds like you have a healthy mindset and if you are eating on a regular schedule just think of your body as being super efficient at processing your food. (((HUGS)))
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  • Roobeedoo 1 August 2012, 4:00 pm

    PLEASE don’t worry! I have two children from 5 pregnancies and your weight is just not the point / issue. Eat good food. Don’t drink. Don’t smoke. Enjoy gentle exercise like walking or swimming.
    But most of all, try to relax and enjoy the experience.
    Worrying is bad for you and the little one!
    The midwife’s answer comes from experience of many many pregnancies. You will probably see a different midwife every time you have a check-up and unless you hire yourself a doula, you are unlikely to get a midwife you know at the actual birth, assuming you are a straightforward short-stay patient.
    Knitting. That’s the best medicine! 🙂
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  • Tricia Royal 1 August 2012, 4:23 pm

    first of all, congrats! I missed that you were expecting!

    secondly, don’t fret too much about weight gain or loss while pregnant, as others have said, it’s not anything to worry about…if the baby is growing fine, everything is copacetic. :). fetuses/babies are very small up to the stage you are at now, they don’t really begin to gain weight until the final several weeks. in line with that, I didn’t start to gain much until the last trimester, the first few months I didn’t gain much/it was slower. in the end I gained 40 lbs, but like another commenter mentioned, I had more to gain (smallish side to begin with). it came and went with breast feeding and light exercise after.

    just keep healthy, walk, get light exercise, eat to your appetite and everything will fall in line! this is the least of your worries though in retrospect I completely understand your worry! 🙂

    best of luck!
    Tricia Royal recently posted..NYC spring break!My Profile

  • thorne garnet 1 August 2012, 4:51 pm

    About health care in the USA: people who can’t afford the insurance go to the ER and the cost is passed on to the insured. Which is way health care cost so much here. I can’t fathom why national health care freaks Americans out. Go figure. Anyway, I like your blog and have loved the photos of places I now want to visit!

  • diana 1 August 2012, 5:22 pm

    Beautiful baby pic already!

    I’ve never been pregnant, but I hope my comment helps in some way. When I went to my prenatal doctor visit over a year ago, I was told as long as I was healthy, it was fine. Also the weight comes off easier after for most women. I couldn’t even climb a flight of stairs over a year ago, so yes, for me the weight loss was for actual healthy “bullshit”. I know every woman’s body is different, but I have friends who gained all their “baby” weight at the last trimester, but also lost it all quickly after. I also know of a few women who actually lost weight during their pregnancy!

    I think this is the best type of weight issue to have, to be honest. I can imagine how exciting it is to watch your body and hormones go through changes and experience a baby. Thanks for sharing the progress!
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  • The Waves 1 August 2012, 10:14 pm

    I spy a cute little baby! Aww!

    As for your lack of weight gain… well, I’ve never been pregnant, but my sister was constantly told during her pregnancy that she was “too small”, “too light”, and even when she went into labour (at full 9 months), she was told by the hospital staff that there is no way she could be ready… and a few hours later she gave birth to a healthy baby boy! I understand that it must be stressful though. To me it seems like mothers-to-be are under so much stress these days, whether it is because of health service professionals who do the check-ups with the help of statistics and national averages (and there will always be people whose pregnancies don’t fit the so-called normal), or because of random acquaintances who are all too eager to tell others what they think pregnancy should be like. Or at least that’s what I hear in my circle of friends who’ve had children recently.
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  • Childofenroth 2 August 2012, 1:57 am


    Yes, the obsession of pregnancy. It is very, very real and therefore, very scary. But, 999.9 out of 1000 things you worry about will never come to pass. I know that doesn’t help much for an obsession- because you go right to the 0.01%. However, I will tell you that with my first child I gained 70 pounds (and lost 0 when I gave birth ; ). With my third, the doctor actually threatened to put me in the hospital if I didn’t start gaining weight a month away from my delivery date. Well, I (without trying) gained about 10 pounds that last month (and still have it, and yes pounds not stone because I am an American who has no idea what my weight would be in stones). I will tell you though, honestly, don’t worry about the weight per se. Your body will feed your developing baby all the nutrition that it needs – even taking it from your bones if necessary- this has been shown to be true even in anorexic women. Friday must seem like forever from now for you, but it will be okay : ) I will look for your post after your OB visit.

  • Veronica Darling 3 August 2012, 10:56 am

    What what what? Your 20 week scan is coming up soon. WHERE HAS THE TIME GONE? Yikes!

    My advice is to put the scales away. Do not google anything pregnancy or health related (I had forgotten my own advice this week as I had pelvic weird feelings and saw way too many weird photos and worrying health advice pages… my midwife explained what was happening in such a better way than google). And like much of the advice above, your body will do what it needs to do, every pregnancy is different and your body is made for the developing baby.

    Love to you for your scan, and will check in more often as I only have ONE MORE WEEK OF WORK. xoxo
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  • Laura 3 August 2012, 7:30 pm

    I wanted to chime in as well to agree with everyone else. It is so so hard NOT to worry when you are pregnant– because you can’t see or hold the baby so you just have to take it on faith that everything is okay in there. And the medical profession as well as random strangers put a lot of pressure and guilt on pregnant women to progress a certain way. When I was pregnant with my first I was told constantly how tiny I looked and it made me anxious and defensive. In reality I was just carrying her very close in– I had a lot of heartburn but no back pain, whereas my second was further out and I had less heartburn but some back pain. Everyone is different! I know people who gained anything from 8 to 80 pounds (I am American) and they all had healthy babies. I also know women who LOST weight in the first trimester because of nausea. Just work on feeling good and telling yourself that your baby is just fine.