I wrote a post on pregnancy weight gain HERE when I was pregnant with Piper, but I wanted to write about the changes that happen during pregnancy again because I think this topic is an important one.
Not a lot of women openly talk about this subject because there is a lot of guilt, and maybe even shame, that surrounds it. Having a hard time with all of the crazy bodily changes that happen during pregnancy can make you feel like you're ungrateful for the opportunity to carry a child, or that you hate what your body is doing for you. There are also people who feel the need to shame women who DO mention that they don't love all of the changes that are happening, which makes you feel like you're the most self-centered, selfish person on the planet. Trust me, having an Instagram page where I share my pregnancy has put me on the receiving end of a lot of those comments. It's really hard. All of those reasons are why I think it's not talked about much, and why women feel like they're not normal for feeling weird about it, AND why many really struggle with the changes in silence.
Every woman has a different experience with pregnancy, but no matter how much or how little you gain, EVERY BODY WILL CHANGE QUITE A BIT from how it looked, felt, and functioned prior to pregnancy. You're growing a human being in your belly, preparing to get that baby out, along with getting ready to nourish the little one when they arrive. That's a lot! The increased body fat, decreased muscle mass, increased clothing sizes, achy hips and joints, stretch marks, cellulite, and increased number of the scale all make sense, and they are for the best, most important reason in the whole world, but that doesn't necessarily mean that dealing with the changes are easy.
Some of these may be a bit of a repeat from my last post, but as I'm going through this experience again, these are some things that are on my mind, and things I wish someone told me to give me some comfort during my first pregnancy:
1. IT'S NORMAL
It's normal to LOVE your body during pregnancy, but also not love EVERRRRY aspect of the process. I truly love pregnancy because it is incredibly empowering. I appreciate my body for what it is going through to bring a baby into this world, and I always develop a deeper respect for it. I love my bump and feeling my baby move around all day. However, that doesn't mean I necessarily love my clothes getting tighter, my hips widening, my booty getting softer, etc. It is possible to feel beyond grateful, yet a bit uneasy at the same time. During pregnancy, you probably feel 4000 different emotions at the same time anyway! Love your body for what it is doing and what it's giving you, but also don't let anyone make you feel like a bad mother for taking a minute to adapt to ALL the changes that happen. Change is always a hard adjustment for anyone and your body suddenly changes no matter who you are or how "healthy" you are. It's an incredible process to be a part of, but of course it's still difficult!
2. DON'T COMPARE
I wish I could go back and say this to myself when I was pregnant with Piper, but I get that it's hard NOT to compare. The first time is much harder because you have no idea what the heck is going on, what pregnancy will look like on you, what pregnancy will feel like, what motherhood is like, etc. I've found the second time around MUCH more relaxing because everything isn't so new, foreign, and scary.
It's easy to look at other women who are, or were, pregnant and compare their experience to yours. I would compare my pregnancy to others and it STRESSED.ME.OUT! I would wonder why the freak I hadn't felt her move yet when most people already had (was everything okay?), or why I'd gained more weight than this girl (was everything okay??) , and why my weight gain was way lower than this girl (was everything okay???). We hear this all the time, but our bodies are all so different! The position of your uterus, age, physical shape prior to pregnancy, genetics, and lifestyle all determine how was carry, so it's not fair to ourselves, or the other woman, to compare. As the kids say, "you do you". Pregnancy is stressful as is. Don't add unnecessary stress!
3. FOCUS ON WHAT YOU CAN CONTROL
You can't control how many pounds you'll gain. You can't make your body look a certain way. You can't prevent quite a few aspects of pregnancy (if you could, I'd personally love this pregnancy insomnia to beat it), but there are things you CAN do:
- You CAN remain active and do whatever physical activity feels right for you during pregnancy. As a certified personal trainer and pre/postnatal specialist, I created a pregnancy workout guide as a way to provide women with safe, and effective exercises for each trimester (you can get it HERE). If you know what you're doing, and feel good, then awesome! Either way, I promise that exercising, as long as you have your doctor's approval, makes you feel SO strong, empowered, and capable. Plus, it's feels great to know that you are physically doing something GOOD for your body and your growing baby's body.
- You CAN nourish your body with quality food. You don't have to "throw in the towel" because you're going to gain weight regardless. There is absolutely a difference between necessary and unnecessary weight gain. Every time you eat is a chance to nourish your body, and give your baby quality nutrients. I absolutely believe there are room for treats as well, but try and make room for all the good stuff too!
- You CAN choose to focus on the good, rather than just the bad. Sure, there'll be moments of frustration over something that doesn't fit anymore, or when you get breathless walking up a couple of stairs, but instead of letting it get to you, recognize that yeah, it's not fun sometimes haha, but then move on. It sure sucks when you can't button up your favourite jeans, but you can wear them again, only next time you'll have your sweet baby in your arms! Yes, your belly grows and that can sometimes bring stretch marks, but it's also your baby's first home, and the place you feel his/hear first little kicks. Pregnancy is a physically, mentally, and emotionally challenging process, but don't let that be the focus.
I am a HUGE advocate of self love and body positivity. No matter who you are, what you weight, or what size you are - OUR BODIES ARE INCREDIBLE!!!! As women, we have the opportunity to MAKE HUMANS! It blows my mind how our bodies just know how to do it.
All of the physical changes that pregnancy brings can be a lot to process. I have those nasty negative thoughts creep into my mind every now and then, just like I'm sure we all do. There is nothing wrong with feeling uneasy about the sudden new changes, and taking a second to adjust to them, but our bodies are the greatest gift, and what IS wrong is letting those negative thoughts/words bring us down. We are more than that. Our bodies are beautiful and were made to do this for us.