Those women who are only pregnant in their bellies… you know, the kind who, even with big bellies, perfectly round like a basketball, are still in possession of lovely, lithe limbs and a chin with a visible jawline? Yeah, that’s so not me. When I am pregnant, I’m pregnant everywhere. My arms look pregnant, my thighs lose whatever semblance of a “gap” they ever had, my bum gets a bit squishy and my jawline slowly disappears over the course of nine months.
During my last pregnancy, I had a really difficult time with this. I remember feeling like my body was hijacked and the weight gain felt totally random and uncontrollable. I gained nothing during the first 18 weeks of my pregnancy despite a lack of morning sickness — and then, suddenly, without changing my eating or workout habits, I gained 20 pounds in a two-week span. It was insane. After that, I pretty much just gave up. It felt out of my control, so I figured why bother? I stopped working out, ate ice cream almost every day, and in the end I gained 55 pounds.
I think the weight gain and body changes are the hardest part of pregnancy for me. My pregnancies have both been relatively easy and birth went pretty smoothly the first time around. It’s the weight gain (OK, and the crazy hormonal changes) that keeps me from signing up for a whole brood of kids. Maybe that seems shallow when other women have trouble getting pregnant at all or when others spend their entire nine months of pregnancy being terribly sick, but this is my journey and I’m being honest about it. I basically spend nine months loathing my body and feeling the most unattractive of my entire life.
This pregnancy though, I’m trying to reframe my mindset a bit. That’s not to say that I don’t have days when I feel “fat” and struggle with body image, because I totally have those days, but I’m trying to focus on the positive aspects of my pregnancy, and in the process I’m learning to accept my pregnant body.
I may not look like Gisele when I’m pregnant, but I’m growing a human, which is pretty amazing when you really stop to think about it. I may not have a defined jawline, but I make pretty good-sized babies and have one of the biggest/hardiest placentas my midwives had ever seen. Maybe I don’t have a little basketball belly, but my body knows how to make milk to nourish a tiny person. True… my thighs may rub together when I walk, but they help me support my pregnant body. I may be a little squishier than I’d like, but my body is strong and capable and birthed a baby without so much as an aspirin.
Even though my body isn’t perfect, it’s pretty amazing, and I am learning to be thankful for all that it helps me accomplish and for its ability to grow strong and healthy babies.
So, this time around, I’m not giving up. I’m not going to stop working out and I’m not going to eat ice cream every day. Even though my weight is climbing quicker than I’d like, I’m going to stay the course and try to have the healthiest pregnancy I can. I’m going to keep going to those Barre3 classes because they make me feel good and strong — even though my jawline may not notice a difference at the moment. I’m going to keep choking down that extra serving of broccoli and those green smoothies, even if the scale looks more like I’ve been scarfing donuts. Whether I gain 30 pounds or 50 pounds, or more… I’m going to trust that my body knows what it’s doing and I’m going to chill out about it.
I’m still a work in progress, but I’m slowly making my way from pregnancy body loathing to acceptance. And it feels pretty good.
Lauren Hartmann is the founder of The Little Things We Do, a blog about life and adventures in Portland Oregon. Follow her on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram or catch up on all of her posts here on Babble.
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