The “Mother Load!”

Lots of mothers know exactly what I’m talking about when I say the “mother load!”

The load of weight many women gain when they become (or are becoming) a mother.

Women should gain weight during pregnancy. Even women who were overweight when they became pregnant should gain some weight for the health of the baby.

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I happened to have gained a “mother load” of weight with each of my pregnancies. I gained far more than this chart recommends. Taking it off after each baby became progressively harder even though the gains were not as great with each baby. I gained almost 80 pounds with my first baby!

By the time my fourth child was a year old I weighed almost as much as I weighed at the time of her delivery. I was trying to accept that as just being “how much I weigh.” I wasn’t ashamed that my body weight put me in the obese classification (BMI > 30) although I ran into people who surely thought their “fat shaming might do me good.

My own mother was supportive. She knew that I hadn’t reconciled myself at this higher weight and she offered consolation. When I said, “I’m fat,” she countered with, “but look what you have to show for it,” meaning my four beautiful daughters.

She was right. I did have four beautiful daughters. I think pregnancy was more of a convenient excuse for me. Babies or not, at some point I would have gained a lot of weight. My method of managing my weight was not sustainable.

The truth is I love food! LOVE, LOVE, LOVE FOOD!

Pregnancy was always a great reason to let go of the rigid control I kept over my eating. If not pregnancy, I would have found some other good excuse for gaining a lot of weight. I’m sure of that!

The real reason I wanted to lose weight was because my “mother load” made it hard for me to do the things I loved. That included getting on the floor and running around with my girls, as well and riding and showing my Morgan stallion, and getting in and out of kayaks. If my weight hadn’t made it hard to do things I loved I don’t think I would have worried about it.

It did get in the way, and when I joined Weight Watchers and began to attend meetings, I got an unexpected treat. I was prepared to give up a lot of the foods I loved. I thought it would be necessary because when I followed my own rigid weight loss plan that was how it worked. No sweets, no cheese, no fried foods, no chips and dips, no salad dressing, no red meat and the list of “no” continued. I tried to keep my daily calorie intake to around 950 calories a day. That’s way too low for an active mother of 4 who is 5′ 7″ tall.

I could eat what I wanted with Weight Watchers provided I stayed within my budget. The idea that I could have desserts on Weight Watchers was scary at first. I didn’t think I would be able to be happy with a little bit of ice cream. I thought if I were to have ice cream, the only way to eat it would be to eat a lot.

The Weight Watchers food plan was healthy and taught me balance. The Weight Watchers meetings, however, were empowering. I listened to other members share their experiences and successes. They were going to parties and enjoying the food while staying in control. They were dining out and eating fast food in control, balance and within the guidelines of their food plan. They could do it; I could do it!

I managed to take off the “mother load’ and almost 25 years later, I’m still actively keeping it off.

I can still get on the floor to play with kids (it’s grandchildren now) and I can still get in and out of an unstable kayak gracefully – that’s good! – while my iPhone gracefully exits my pocket right into the water : – ( not good at all!


Jackie Conn

About Jackie Conn

Jackie Conn is married and has four grown daughters and four grandchildren. She is a Weight Watchers success story. She's a weight loss expert with 25 years of experience guiding women and men to their weight-related goals. Her articles on weight management have been published in health, family and women's magazines. She has been a regular guest on Channel 5 WABI news, FOX network morning program Good Day Maine and 207 on WCSH.