Most women know that having a baby (or two or three or more) puts her in a weight-precarious situation.Women at a healthy weight are encouraged to gain about 25 pounds over the course of a pregnancy. Those who go into a pregnancy overweight are encouraged to gain a bit less, 15 to 25 pounds. While gaining the weight usually isn’t difficult for most women (and exceeding the recommended weight gain is not uncommon), taking off the excess weight once the baby is born can be a challenge. It’s hard for some women even to remember what they looked like or felt like before getting pregnant.
This is even truer if there are multiple babies over a few years, in which case the likelihood of returning to the pre-baby weight and shape doesn’t occur before a new one is on the way. In addition, the demands of the new baby often leave moms with little time or energy to put effort into their daily eating and exercise routines. Not surprisingly, many overweight women report that having a baby or babies and not taking off all the extra weight they gained while pregnant is one of the key factors leading to an ongoing battle with their weight.
After the baby years,women eventually face another challenge that for many is weight-related: menopause. While the typical weight gain at this time of life is 5 to 7 pounds, larger gains are not uncommon. In addition, the hormonal changes that come with menopause cause a change in body shape, with weight accumulating around the waist rather than on the hips and thighs. All of those changes can take a toll on a woman’s good humor, leading to negative feelings and overeating in response.
A study by the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine found that middle-aged women who reported high levels of symptoms indicative of depression and anxiety were more likely to experience greater amounts of weight gain.