During pregnancy, women put on extra weight. Some of this weight is due to the baby, the placenta, amniotic fluid, and increased blood volume, but some of it shows up simply because growing a baby is hungry work. In fact, a pregnant woman who isn’t putting on weight might be cause for concern.
But what about dads-to-be?
You may have heard of the term “sympathy weight,” where men appear to put on weight right along with their pregnant partners. As it turns out, there’s nothing magical going on here. In fact, there could be some pretty mundane reasons behind this unexpected, but not uncommon phenomenon.
Here’s why dad might be growing a belly too.
Some Exercises Become Off-Limits
For the most part, doctors want pregnant women to remain active. It’s good for their heart rate, their joints, their circulation, and their mood. However, some exercises may be off-limits due to safety concerns, or for medical reasons that show up during the pregnancy. In other words, a pregnant woman going for an evening stroll is usually no problem, but if she’s trying to balance on a bicycle, it might be.
So, if you and your partner used to sweat it out at the gym together, but she suddenly has to cut back on, or even stop her typical exercise routine, your motivation might take a serious hit. If she’s not at the gym, you’re not at the gym, and given enough time, that can begin to show (just like her belly).
She’s Eating for Two, so Why Not You?
Once the queasiness or morning sickness from the first trimester clears, it can give way to a tremendous hunger. During mid- to late pregnancy, women often experience intense cravings, and can sometimes go from feeling perfectly fine to extremely hungry in a matter of minutes. Pregnant women might snack more frequently, enjoy bigger portions at mealtime, and give in to foods that they might have been avoiding before the pregnancy.
With all this (well deserved) indulgence going on right in front of you, it can be hard to hold the line. If she’s sitting on the couch next to you eating ice cream, you would need the resolve of a martyr to resist going to get your own. What begins as a few bites or tastes can quickly increase to matching her every craving.
You’re Not Going Out as Often (So You’re Treating Yourself More)
Alcohol, and in many cases caffeine, are off-limits to pregnant women, making the thought of lingering at a bar or café seem like a lot less fun.
Fun is important, but because many couples do a lot of their socializing in pubs or restaurants, you may find you’re pulling back from your friends a bit. This can leave you searching for other ways to put fun back in your lives, and this can mean filling that void with food.
It’s not at all uncommon for special meals or treats to become a bright spot in the sometimes hectic and emotional process of pregnancy.
You’re Not Sleeping Well
The aches, the pains, the crazy pregnancy dreams… these are all things that are usually associated with the female half of an expectant couple. However, let’s not forget that couples are usually sharing a bed, and having a partner who is waking up several times every night may also mean that you’re waking up several times too.
Over time, sleep deprivation can become a real issue. Your body begins searching for quick and easy sources of energy like sugary or carb-heavy snacks. The best way to avoid this? Try to catch naps whenever you can to make up the sleep deficit.
In short, it’s not necessarily the pregnancy itself that can make a man fat, but rather the profound change in habits he experiences as he supports his partner through the event.
So if you’re taking on that role, your best bet is to be aware of these changes and mitigate them wherever you can. But don’t feel too bad about getting wrapped up in the anticipation of a new baby – both of you are going through big changes!