Weight gain during pregnancy can be difficult for many people. Some have trouble because of decreased appetite or morning sickness. Others are working through anxiety, depression, and/or eating disorders. The good news is there are ways to support yourself. Here are some tips to get you started.
Learn the facts
The best first step is to figure out why you’re having trouble gaining weight. The cause could be physical, emotional, mental, or a combination. Identifying the “why” can help you take action. You can start unpacking this question by reaching out to a trusted provider. This clinically validated screening tool is another option to learn about your mental health.
Be mindful of eating disorders
If you’ve dealt with anorexia, bulimia, orthorexia, purging, or any other eating disorder, the thought of gaining weight might be particularly scary. Watching your body change can be triggering even without this specific history — when you add in the cultural stressors and shame surrounding weight, it can become even more difficult. For some, gaining weight simply may not feel doable, if that’s your experience, it is not your fault. Speaking with a mental health professional who has a background in eating disorders is a good way to find support. Addressing your feelings with someone who understands, might allow you to dedicate more mental energy to taking care of yourself during these exciting but challenging months.
Be gentle with yourself
Pregnancy isn’t easy, and sometimes gaining weight takes time. Try to remember that you’re doing your best. And, while weight gain can be important, taking care of your other health needs also matters. If you’re looking for new ways to feel emotionally and mentally supported, try out these tips:
- Move your body
- Call a friend or family member
- Focus on your sleep
- Start a meditation practice
- Check out Ovia’s Self-care Checklist for more ideas
Add in some snacks
Small meals throughout the day may help you slowly get the nutrition you’re looking for and keep your energy up. Try to have food easily available or ready to eat that you’ll look forward to and enjoy. It can be helpful to pair protein and carbs with some fat to help you feel satisfied. If you are struggling with what or how to eat, it’s best to speak with a trusted registered dietitian, who can recommend foods based on your preferences and goals. In the meantime, here are some food options to consider:
- Greek yogurt with fruit and nuts
- Fruit smoothies including yogurt, dairy or dairy substitute
- Hard boiled eggs with pretzels
- Cheese and crackers with fruit
Soothe any discomfort
Sometimes nausea makes it difficult to gain weight during pregnancy. If that is your experience, you could try ginger and Vitamin B6 supplements. Food aversions can be another obstacle to weight gain. Try to learn which foods, if any, are making you feel sick. Then you can avoid those foods and focus on what feels most nourishing.
Registered Dietitians, mental health professionals, and/or a trusted primary care provider can make a great team when helping you address weight gain during pregnancy. Reaching out to friends and family is another excellent option. Remember — anything that’s coming up for you around gaining weight is valid. Your support network can help.
Reviewed by the Ovia Health Clinical Team