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Even though the whole world can see that you're hugely pregnant, hearing a friend or neighbor exclaim, "Oh, my god, you're as big as a house!" doesn't exactly make a mama-to-be feel good. Sure, you were expecting to put on a few or [cough] more pounds when you saw the plus sign on that plastic stick. But you may not have been ready for the reality of the pregnant body that's staring back at you in the mirror -- the one with swollen breasts, thicker thighs, and a butt that deserves its own zip code -- or for others to point out your changing shape. "It's normal to be surprised by your pregnancy weight gain -- it can feel like a lot in a short amount of time," says Maggie Baumann, M.F.T., C.E.D.S., a psychotherapist based in Newport Beach, California. But putting on those pregnancy pounds can be a positive experience. Here are five reasons why pregnancy weight gain isn't as bad as you think.
1. It's important for the baby. Your growing babe needs those pounds to support his development, so that he can grow big and strong. "Women who don't gain enough weight during pregnancy have a higher risk of having a preterm or low-birthweight baby," says Kathleen M. Rasmussen, Sc.D., R.D., professor of nutritional sciences at Cornell University and chair of the committee on Weight Gain During Pregnancy: Reexamining the Guidelines at the Institute of Medicine. "This can cause health issues for the baby, including breathing, heart, and digestive problems, at birth and later in life." Yikes!
2. You get to blame the hormones. When you're pregnant, your hormones turn on cravings, make certain foods taste incredible, and your body goes into storage mode, sending any and all extra calories into fat stores to be used later for nourishing the baby (unlike when you're not with child, and the only thing you have to blame for not being able to put down the Oreos is a lack of willpower).
3. Your breasts look fantastic. As your pregnancy hormones ramp up, so does your bra size. "You can expect to gain about two pounds in your breasts due to increased fluid, tissue swelling, and early milk production," says James E. Ferguson II, M.D., professor and department chair of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Virginia School of Medicine. In other words, A-cuppers will finally get to experience the joys of cleavage -- hooray!
4. That big butt isn't permanent. Knowing that the body changes you're experiencing won't last forever can help you relax a little, and maybe even love your pregnancy curves. Hey, having J.Lo's best body part for a few months could be fun!
5. You can drop those pounds fast. The minute you push that baby out you'll lose about 11 pounds -- that's taking into account the kiddo, all of that amniotic fluid, and the placenta. A couple of weeks later, the baby-making hormones level off, allowing your body to release the fluid weight it was retaining and tackle the fat stores. "Provided you didn't gain too much during your pregnancy, eating right and moderate exercise will help you lose the remaining baby weight relatively quickly," Rasmussen says. Add breastfeeding into the mix and you'll be zipping up your prepregnancy jeans in no time.
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