I'll tell you why women gain "too much" weight when they're pregnant: they're miserable. They're tired, they're achy, they're scared, they're puking and the one thing that makes them feel better is a pint of ice cream. Or a milkshake or a bag of cheese puffs. Every day. They can't drink alcohol, soda or coffee, nor are they allowed to eat sushi (oh the horror!) or soft cheeses! Body parts they never thought about suddenly hurt too much to make it to the gym. During my first pregnancy, people said it was great that I (supposedly) only gained weight in my belly. People would crow at me, praising me for my non-weight-gaining magic skills. You know why I didn't gain too much? Because I got sick a lot during my first trimester. I continued to get sick throughout my pregnancy, I had bad heartburn, didn't know what to eat sometimes and my appetite was unpredictable. I never even got that middle trimester of energy and tranquility and glow-iness. I would have rather gained the weight and been less miserable.
Of course, some women gain weight because they're happy. They're happy to not watch their waistline for once. Happy to have someone else (supposedly) burning 300 calories a day for them. They see this as an opportunity to do something differently. With maternity clothes mostly labeled as small, medium and large, made with elastic waistlines and expanding tops, there is a certain freedom to being pregnant.
I would love to judge all those moms that gain lots of weight during pregnancy, but I can't. I know how hard it is to make good decisions about food all day when there is so much going on. It's also hard to predict how your body will react to said food or the millions of other changes going on to prepare for a growing baby. I've had very slim moms tell me they gained 70 pounds, largely because of fluid retention. Their fault? Nope. Moms who didn't gain weight because they were nauseous the whole time. Their credit? Nope. Just because a baby belly is out for everyone to see doesn't mean the public should get to comment on how big anything is. I can't tell you how many times I've heard variations of these comments: Your butt does/doesn't look big, so you must be having a girl! Your hips look wider/narrower, so you're having a boy!
I remember one of my male, single friends saying how impressed he was with a woman working out very hard in his spin class and how impressed he was when he noticed she got off the bike and realized she was very pregnant. The praise he lavished on her--along with his comments about pregnant women letting themselves go--were echoed by lots of people (men) who were never going to be pregnant and never going to be judged for the weight gained while pregnant. I don't know why they cared so much about the weight of pregnant women they didn't even know.*
My advice to all of you pregnant or soon-to-be pregnant friends and celebrities (there are *so* many celebrities that read this blog, I'm sure) is to eat as healthy as often you can, for as long as you can. When you need to indulge, do it without guilt. If someone has the gall to judge you for what you've just ingested while incubating a small child, please smack them upside the head and tell them the baby made you do it.
*These same people seem oddly invested in whether women breastfeed and whether they should be exercising throughout the pregnancy, but that's for another post.**
**If all those chatty people--and media hounds--redirected their energy from being horrified about baby weight to, say, being horrified about the duration of maternity leave in the US, I bet legislation would change quite quickly.