Skinny Minnies

If you walk into the office of my OBGYN you will see nothing but tiny pregnant women.  If you ask their due dates you will almost fall back in your chair.  Women who are six and seven months pregnant sporting a tiny little bump that you would think is brand new.

I remember looking around during my first pregnancy and thinking "I wish I can look like that at six months pregnant".  But I guess this is to be expected in a country where even the first lady can rock a bikini while in her 3rd trimester and look great.

While I read about "skinny pregnancy" being a trend in the US, here in France it is a way of life.  Maternity clothes are made in Extra Small and sell out quickly.  There is actually no secret formula and the women are definitely not starving themselves.

So how do they stay so thin and healthy while pregnant?

1) Eat well, eat fresh

While you can find a fast food restaurant in every corner in the US, they are a hard to come by commodity in France which means women make healthier choices.  Most people buy their food fresh each day or at least every few days and even in a country where people can eat their weight in bread, the bread is baked fresh every day and does not come in a plastic bag - meaning there are no added preservatives or conservatives (for all of my francophone readers)!

2) Walk

Most French people walk, everywhere.  A crazy concept I know since very little can be done in the US without a car, but here it is a way of life.  Mothers walk their kids to school, people walk to work and to the store and it isn't unusual to see people biking to work rather than driving even in the winter.

3) Medical System

There is such a strong social emphasis on prenatal (and postnatal) care that doctors and hospitals take a very active role during pregnancy.  From the first appointment my doctor has made it very clear what his expectations are of me and definitely takes the time to explain what is/isn't healthy.  There is definitely no "eating for two" mentality but rather about educating what should be eaten to maintain a healthy weight for both mom and baby. 

And let's not forge the wonderfully state funded re-education classes that help get your um...muscles back into shape after birth.

4) Life in Moderation

While French women take extra-ordinary care of themselves they also know when too much is too much.  You probably won't bat an eye at a pregnant woman enjoying a nice glass of champagne (aperitif) from time to time or indulging in a mousse au chocolate with her caffeinated coffee.  Because as in all French culture, it is these small pleasures that make life worth living.

What do you think about skinny pregnancy and this way of life?  Do you think it's healthy?
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tracy@sellabitmum said...

I think this is very interesting indeed. I lived in Europe for my first pregnancy and was much more active and did receive a lot more healthy advice from my midwife. I loved watching the mums on their bikes - pregnant and with 2-3 kids, groceries and sometimes a Christmas tree all balanced on it as they rode for their errands. So much more awesome than the minivan.

Liene said...

On average, baby size is much smaller as well, not to mention the mothers themselves (well, when compared to Americans). But it is still taking some getting used to, these women and their bumps are tiny!

vinobaby said...

I would take it anyday. I love the emphasis on healthy eating, moderation, and health in general. I'm wish people in the US would get it. I also wish it was safer to walk around here, but I'd fear for my life if I dared to walk the mile to the store.

I'd like to think the "thin" is just a happy bonus for living healthy, but I know that is not always the case.

I'd still take the European mentality any day.


Mark Himes said...

Yes I do. And obviously it's working out since the French look perfectly healthy to me. I, on the other hand, could stand to lose some weight. Right after I eat this pie. Apparently, I'm eating for three.

Cookie's Mom said...

Barbara, this is so interesting. I had no idea! I don't know how I feel about the term, "skinny pregnancy" - it seems to create some pressure to maintain a certain weight and physique - but if the moms are happy, that's the most important thing.

It sounds like you are really enjoying your life there. That's great to hear! ...and I'm only a little bit jealous. :)

Shell said...

I do think it's a healthy way to look at it. As long as you are eating well, there really isn't any need to gain a huge amount of weight w/each pregnancy.

Hungrigyrl said...

Much better than the eating for 2 mentality. I wonder how the percentages compare for gestational diabetes here vs. there? X-small maternity clothes? Wow.

Missy said...

Oh, that's how you spell aperitif? I spelled it wrong on Friday. Oops.

I'd love to be in a place where I could walk everywhere - how far do people usually walk? We kind of have that where we go in Florida.

Natalie said...

I would love to live somewhere that you could just walk everywhere. I really think that helps people stay active and thin.

The Blonde Duck said...

Popped in to say hi! My girlfriend went to Germany and said it was wonderful--all the women were gorgeous and didn't work out at all--they just walked! Do women in France work out? I live in Texas, and I would love to walk everywhere!

Michelle said...

I just read something the other day that said one myth that US doctors wish pregnant women would not fall prey to was the "eating for two" mentality. My sister-in-law gained 70 (yes, SEVENTY) pounds with her daughter and was sure I'd do the same. 31 pounds later I felt just fine, albeit it 42 weeks pregnant. Pregnant women just don't seem to comprehend just how little 300 extra calories really is! I think 'skinny pregnancy' is probably 'healthy pregnancy', as long as it's not taken to any extreme. =)

Elena said...

I honestly wish I would've followed these tips more. I always wanted to be the skinny pregnant bitch and I never was. It's honestly one of my biggest regrets! That sounds very vain - but I always wanted to be that cute preggo lady! You my dear, are though. Remember that!

Jessica {Team Rasler} said...

It seems to me like this is all part of an overall healthier culture. I feel incredibly lucky to live in a neighborhood in which I can walk to a lot of what we need - parks, groceries, bank, etc. I definitely feel healthier (pregnant or not) when I am walking a lot and eating right.

But some women here and everywhere else just gain a lot of weight during pregnancy no matter how healthy their lifestyles are, so the "skinny pregnancy" trend worries me only insofar as it makes people who ARE healthy feel bad about themselves like they've failed before the baby even arrives!

Jen said...

I wish I would have embraced this concept with my pregnancies. I was just huge with all 4 of mine.

Kiddothings said...

I was never skinny with both my pregnancies - I gained almost 55 pounds with both. But if I ever get pregnant again, I think I'll have to go easy on eating-for-two and try to exercise or walk a lot more.

Jessica said...

I was very skinny with my first baby, I was very active although I probably didn't eat as healthy as I could have. With my second child I gained more than I did with my first but I still wasn't big compared to other people.

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