Mommyrexia: Growing Trend or Trendy Term?

By , SparkPeople Blogger
Currently pregnant with my third child, I know what it's like to struggle with all of the changes a pregnant woman's body goes through.  It can be hard to see your belly expanding in ways you never though possible, and dealing with other "fun" side effects like varicose veins, stretch marks and swelling.  Although it's not easy, the end product (a beautiful baby) is worth it.  Some pregnant women have a harder time with the weight gain than others, which has lead to a new trend called "mommyrexia."  Is this really a widespread problem, or just media hype?

One recent article cites celebrity moms like Victoria Beckham, Rachel Zoe and Bethenny Frankel, who either didn't gain a lot of weight during their pregnancies, or lost most of it within a month of delivery.  The fear is that other women look at celebrities like these as the standard, feeling disappointed with themselves if they aren't back to their pre-pregnancy size right away.  Some maternity shops in the New York City area are now stocking extra-small sizes based on customer demand.  The article also mentions that some websites are offering more maternity workout clothes "which meet the needs of pregnant woman who exercise, sometimes excessively."  Personally, I think it's great that more pregnant women are staying active, and also appreciate having more choices when it comes to workout clothes (besides wearing my husband's t-shirts and a pair of baggy shorts.) 

I've been lucky in that I don't usually feel good for most of my pregnancies, but I look pretty good.  I don't experience much swelling, don't gain an excessive amount of weight, and from behind, you might not know I was pregnant.  It's not intentional- I do exercise regularly and try to make healthy food choices, but I'm not strict about it.  For nine months, I just look like I'm growing a basketball in my belly.  I can relate to the pressure after birth to return to a certain size, because I've felt that in the past.  My body has never returned to exactly what it was before I had kids, but I've learned to accept that.    

After the birth of my first child, a close friend made some very hurtful comments about my weight gain.  She said she was very concerned about me because of how I looked.  She assumed I was trying to stay as tiny as possible, when in reality, it's just how I happened to grow.  Because I didn't gain an excessive amount of weight, something must be wrong with me.  I didn't appreciate that someone would jump to uneducated conclusions, assuming that I would put my own vanity ahead of the health of my growing child.   I do think the idea of "mommyrexia" is very disturbing, but I also think it's important to remember that everyone is different, and it's never a good idea to rush to judgment about how healthy or unhealthy a pregnant woman is based on how she looks.

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What do you think?

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I actually came out of the hospital weighing less than I did when I got pregnant- with BOTH of my kids! Not because I was "mommrexic" either- Quite the opposite. I just quit eating junk and drinking sodas and started eating lean red meat, veggies, milk, etc.

After delivery is when my weight gain happens... *gulp* Nursing makes me HUNGRY and I no longer have the pregnancy hormones dictating what I should eat- makes falling back into my old junk food routine WAY too easy. Report
I think weight gain is different for everybody, and sometimes it is just out of our hands (unless one is making an effort to restrict calories or just plain overeats). I have 4 children (the last pregnancy with twins) and could never gain more than 24 pounds. Even so, all of them-twins included-were of normal birth weight. It wasn't because of excessive exercise or being particularly calorie-conscious. It just seemed to be where I 'maxed out'. I do have a small frame, and I think that is true of a lot of the celebrity people. As long as moms are listening to their physicians and eating healthy/getting sufficient exercise we probably shouldn't get too caught up in the media commentary. Report
I have seen other women get pregnant more than once, and have very different pregnancies. These are the same women, with the same partner. To even think that one needs to be like some celebrity is insane when we might not even be the same as our own selves. I have not yet experienced the joy of kids, but when I do, I'll try to keep this blog entry and its comments in mind if I start freaking out about weight gain. Report
Well, it's unfortunate that the writer felt the need to go into defensive mode rather than discuss what is and isn't healthy and safe during pregnancies. (Although I agree that unwanted advice and assumptions during pregnancy is beyond annoying.) I have no idea if there is such a thing as "mommyrexia" (first time I've ever heard the phrase, actually.) I do know that women should discuss weight gain and planned exercise with their doctors, and go by that advice only.

If anyone had called my exercise during pregnancy "excessive", the unfortunate person would probably have ended up in the hospital.

I exercised 6 days a week in the 1st tri, and trained for a marathon. In the 2nd and 3rd tris I brought my exercise back up to 7 days a week, when I began restorative yoga. I gained 22 pounds (very normal for my 5'2", 113 pound pre-preg frame) and was back to that weight in under 3 months.

I was told by some haters that I would do some critical damage to my body, blah blah blah.

Well, those haters are sitting at home whining about the 30 pounds they can't lose. Report
I have seen this word pop up all over the place lately, especially in reference to women that continue racing when they are pregnant. This angers me! Why do people think that you are completely incapacitated when pregnant? I think it is wonderful to see pregnant women at my gym, or out running around my neighborhood. I wish I had exercised during my pregnancy- I probably would have felt better, had a smoother recovery from the delivery, and lost the weight faster afterwards. Report
Most women are under the close supervision of a physician throughout their pregnancies and for at least 6 weeks post partum. It would never cross my mind to judge a woman for things like this. If there was a problem, I am sure someone much more qualified than I - namely a doctor - would address it with her. Report
Actually, the whole idea of comparing our pregnant selves (and not-pregnant!) with celebrities is ridiculous. Celebrities are in the business of self-image. As someone who has struggled with self-worth/self-image for a long time, I get tired of the constant need to hold ourselves up to some impossible standard. In fact, when I found out I was pregnant this time around, I breathed a sigh of relief. I eat healthfully and am active, yes, but beyond that I am focused on doing what is best for my baby, not whether or not I gain 35 lbs vs 25. (and to the commenter who said 20 lbs is all that is necessary, actually, the recommended weight gain for a person with a normal weight is 25 to 35 lbs. And you don't always have control over the actual amount you gain, due to water weight gain, etc).

How about instead we just celebrate the incredible miracle our bodies are creating and do our best to make sure the babies we are carrying are as healthy as possible instead of getting hung up on how we look. Pregnant bodies are beautiful, no matter what size. Report
While I think this "mommyrexia" could be a problem for some, I also think the media is blowing this out of proportion. The truth is women don't have to gain a lot of weight to deliver a happy, healthy baby. They also can (and should!) exercise during pregnancy without risk to the baby. I gained 50 pounds with my first baby. Luckily I was able to get it back off, but next time around I'll definitely be more mindful. Putting on that kind of weight just isn't necessary. Report
People are so fat today that they don't even realize that a woman doesn't need to gain over 20 pounds for a pregnancy. The baby weighs about 7, plus the placenta, extra fluids, etc. and 20# is more than enough. The FIT celebs are women who just stay within their range. "mommyrexia" is probably some stupid guy writing about pregnancy like Perez Hilton. A baby will ALWAYS take what it needs from the mother's body. One problem with not losing "baby weight" is young woman today don't breast feed. That takes off any extra weight, unless you overeat. Report
Very interesting read! Enjoyed the subject and the insight.

-Amy, Fuse Pilates Report
I think it's good to be aware of, regardless, but we shouldn't just assume that mommy's-to-be are trying not to gain weight. Report
It would be so helpful if women could remember that we are all different, and that my experience won't necessarily be "just like yours". It seems that, since pregnancy, childbirth and motherhood are so universal (and overwhelmingly personal) to women's lives, they feel more comfortable commenting inappropriately about someone else's experience. Tsk, tsk.

I just had my 1st child. I was overdue and only looked 7 or 8 months, and only 2 weeks after delivery was back in my pre-baby size. All the while eating like a horse and gaining 30 lbs.
Some people just carry differently, i guess. Report
Because I was overweight both times I got pregnant, I assumed I'd be told to only gain about 15 lbs. (I read it on the net so it must be true!). Instead, my doctors worried because I only gained 20 - 21 lbs. - they feared the babies might not be growing sufficiently, but I couldn't gain more because of my morning (all day) sickness. Luckily, both babies came out full-sized and perfect! Bottom line, gain what your doctor says, not what some celebrity gains! Report
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