Nicole Kidman. Halle Berry. Nicole Richie. Angelina Jolie. I can’t remember the last time any of these women were in the news for a movie they made but all have recently graced many magazine covers. For what? For being able to walk out of the maternity ward in their pre-pregnancy jeans which, natch, were tiny to begin with.
A Plague Of Pregorexia on Both Your Houses!
The media has dubbed this trend of ever-increasingly skinny pregnant mothers who pop out a baby and pop on a bikini a la Trista Rehn (who really is famous for nothing but this), “Pregorexia.” Add this one to the long list of newly minted eating disorders on the market such as drunkorexia, diabulimia and, my personal fave, orthorexia.
There is no denying that pregnancy is fashionable right now. And also, thin is still in, despite numerous attempts by every sane entity in creation to have that one abolished. So it only makes sense, in an our-society-is-sick-and-twisted way, that skinny pregnancy is the latest trend.
How does one stay super skinny while being pregnant? The same tricks you use when you’re not: excessive diet and exercise. The risks are compounded of course because you are carrying a baby. One that you presumably would like to see arrive in a healthy and timely fashion.
I wasn’t diagnosed with “pregorexia” or even anorexia during my pregnancy with my second son. But I’m betting I fit all the criteria. I’m not proud of this. It wasn’t even an effort to be skinny. It was during the time frame where I was testifying against my ex-boyfriend in court for sexually assaulting me and it was all I could do just to survive and make sure my oldest son was taken care of. I was so depressed and traumatized I barely remembered to breathe much less eat. I lost weight by the bucket in the first trimester. So much so that even at six months pregnant, I was still wearing normal clothes. People were shocked when I’d tell them how pregnant I was.
Some people, like my doctor and my sister, were appalled. But others – mostly women – were congratulatory, even envious. It is with sadness I remember one friend’s whispered comment, “Just tell me how you do it! Please!! We want to get pregnant again but I cannot gain 50 pounds again. I just can’t. I’ll do anything. Do you take something?” This girl was willing to take a drug to keep her weight down during her pregnancy.
Finally my doctor said we needed to talk about getting re-fed in a hospital setting. That shook me. From that point on, I made myself eat three times a day and the weight started coming on. I “popped” very quickly and the last trimester was textbook.
Fast forward to my third son’s pregnancy. I was in a much happier and healthier place. I’d discovered exercise and loved it and after reading Dr. Clapp’s wonderful book Exercising Through Your Pregnancy, saw no reason to stop what I enjoyed doing. I rock climbed (with safety gear) until 8 months along. I ran nearly every day. I lifted weights. I did dance, bosu, and step classes. I even did TurboKick the night before I went into labor.
You would not believe the lectures I got. Or maybe you would. Perhaps some of you are thinking those thoughts right now. And this is where it gets tricky for me. I’ve been on both sides of the pregnant-and-eating-disordered fence. During my last pregnancy, I gained a textbook perfect 25 pounds. I was happy and healthy throughout. I delivered – in 56 minutes – a 9 lb 14 oz baby boy. My doctor said I had the biggest placenta she’d ever seen, still one of the best compliments of my life. And yet, everyone from the stranger on the street to the meathead on the weight floor lectured me about my activity and warned me I was putting my baby in harm’s way. While during my “sick” pregnancy – another 10 lb baby – I was lauded for staying thin.
There Are No Hard Answers
Obviously, each pregnancy and each pregnant woman are different. Some get puke-is-my-signature-scent sick for their entire pregnancy and feel blessed to even make it out of bed. Others, like me, don’t get terribly ill and can do more. The only thing that I know for sure is that each mother should be encouraged to do what she feels is best for her body and her baby. As long as her doctor or midwife says she and the baby are fine then whatever she chooses is a-okay with me.
Certainly there are pregnant women who are eating disordered. And it is a crime that our society is pushing the thin-at-all-costs mentality on pregnant women, when we are already at our most vulnerable. So let’s not give this a cutesy name and giggle while we roll our eyes at the pregnant mommy on the treadmill. Let’s call it like it is and get serious help for eating disordered women, especially while they are pregnant. And lets support active moms. And moms on bedrest. And adoptive moms. And teen moms.
Today’s pregnancy can seem like an ultimately selfish pursuit. Take a look at any issue of a pregnancy mag. You get your “baby bump” and the adoration of your friends. You get to wear supercute maternity maxi dresses and go to parties. You get to decorate a nursery. And of course you get page after page of product endorsements for must-haves like a $600 stroller. There’s even a multitude of articles on how to make your ugly newborn cuter. All of us need to remember that babies are not just an accessory that you pay for in pounds instead of cash.
We need less articles about post-partum flab and more about post-partum depression. Less about how to be a hot mommy and more about how to be a good mommy. Less about which star lost the weight the fastest and more about the stars in our eyes when we love our babies. In fact, maybe we need to hear less about celebs period.