Excessive Pregnancy Weight Gain Lingers; Moms Say “Duh”

by Anna Gebert

Still holding on to the baby weight 2, 5… okay 20 years after giving birth? You’re not alone (not by a long shot) but apparently if you gain more than the recommended amount of weight during your pregnancy you are more likely to maintain quite a few of those extra pounds years later, according to a remarkably obvious study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Researchers at the American Society for Nutrition enrolled a cohort of 302 women from New York City during pregnancy and followed them for 7 years. Regardless of whether the women were overweight or of a normal weight when they got pregnant, those who gained more than they “should” have, according to established physician recommendations, were more likely to hold onto some of those pounds. This potentially leads to negative health effects commonly associated with an increase in Body Mass Index, or BMI – that infernal height/weight ratio that doesn’t necessarily represent one’s fitness but remains the standard upon which people’s health is measured.

You’ve got to wonder how much money and time were spent methodically researching what a majority of women with kids can anecdotally share: that if a woman over-indulges in thrice-daily calorie-laden snack fests when pregnant it’s more likely she’ll hold onto some extra blubber a few years later, especially when faced with the lure of dinosaur-shaped chicken nuggets and the thrall of ever-present macaroni and cheese.

Despite what tabloids lead women to believe, it’s completely normal to take months, years, or… never to get rid of the baby weight. Regardless of how much mass they gained during pregnancy most women have to figure out how to get rid of it after giving birth. How is it surprising that women who put on a few additional pounds don’t magically find the time, will, interest, or energy to get rid of it, even after 7 years? Last time I had a kid, there was barely time to question “How long has that barf been in my hair?” let alone concern myself with the lingering effects of double-the-dessert.

It can be demoralizing for pregnant women to keep getting messages about excessive weight gain during what’s already a stressful time. Maybe if we continue to emphasize good nutrition and fitness throughout the process instead of fear-mongering, we’ll end up with healthier, happier moms.