Pregnancy Complications: Do Big Mamas Make Big Babies?
Did you see that article in The New York Times that said women who pack on more than 40 pounds during pregnancy have twice the pregnancy complication risk of giving birth to a big baby of women who gain the recommended 25 to 35 pounds? This is all according to a large new study (no pun intended), done over the course of eight years with info from more than 40,000 births, published in the November 2008 issue of Obstetrics and Gynecology.
One of my first thoughts when I read the article was, So? What's wrong with big babies? Well, apparently plenty. Babies with a birth weight over 9 pounds are at higher risk for birth complications and are more likely to be overweight or obese later in life, which leads to all sorts of other complications like diabetes and heart disease.
Before I say any more, let me come clean about my own pregnancy complications: I gained almost 60 pounds during my first pregnancy. And no, I wasn't carrying twins. I don't know how or why I gained so much weight; I certainly didn't sit around eating bon-bons all day. I walked everywhere, did yoga twice a week and snacked on carrots. Still, the pounds just kept piling on. The nurse at my OB's would whistle under her breath every time I hopped on the scale at my prenatal visits. At the peak of my pregnancy, I weighed more than my 6'3" brother and 20 pounds more than my husband. It wasn't pretty. But despite the potential pregnancy complications from my excessive weight gain, my daughter was born a "normal" 7 pounds, 14 ounces.
Now I'm pregnant for the second time and I'm terrified that I'm going to blow up again. I'm in my first trimester and I've already put on almost 10 pounds. Once more, I've been eating well and not excessively to avoid pregnancy complications. I've been exercising—that is, if you count chasing after a two-year-old exercise. Still, nothing I do seems to keep the pounds at bay.
So of course after reading this study, I'm freaking out a bit about pregnancy complications. Maybe my firstborn being a normal weight was a fluke. What if I balloon up this time and my pregger pounds do affect the size and health of my baby? It's not like I can stop eating or run a marathon in my third trimester. And isn't one of the benefits of pregnancy the fact that you can get fat and no one can say anything about it? Of course, there are the serious realities of pregnancy complications, including gestational diabetes and obesity which trump all that. But still, if we're all doing the best we can, eating as well as we can, exercising as much as we can, what more can we do to avoid pregnancy complications like excessive weight gain?
Sound off: What were your pregnancy stats? How much did you gain during your pregnancy and how much did your baby weigh? Leave 'em in the comments below.