When Your Pregnant Body Freaks You Out
You see those maternity clothing ads: svelte woman who happens to have a tiny bump looking glamorously out the window, and you think: that should be me pregnant. Then you are pregnant. Maybe it’s your first or your seventh. So maybe these inroads have already been carved, and maybe they haven’t. Each pregnancy is different, you gain and carry weight differently, you feel sick at different intervals, and thusly, my thoughts apply to first & seventh pregnancies, right?
I have a whole section on pregnancy. See it all here.
I’m in my third pregnancy and watching my body change before my very eyes. In some ways I’m rejoicing because finally, at 15 weeks, you can really tell I’m pregnant. But in other ways, I’m freaked out. Everything is going to stretch and push out again. I cannot get away from my own body and/or baby. I have a long way to go still!
Five important things to remind yourself when your pregnant body is freaking you out:
1) Weight gain is good.
Say you’ve been athletic, fit, and in shape your whole pre-baby life. Say you’ve struggled with food pre-baby. Say you worked really hard to be at a weight you felt was healthy and comfortable. Then it all goes out the window. You are gaining weight!! Your thighs are squishing together! Your butt is riding up your back! Your chest–well, that’s a bonus, I guess–is giving you that she-doesn’t-buy-the-right-bra-size look. And you just look like you’re wearing an inner-tube around your waist. Or had too many keggers. Or donuts.
Remind yourself: weight gain is GOOD. You want to gain. You need to gain. Baby needs you to gain. Most of it will slip right off with delivery, nursing, moving around. I promise. Within 6 months to a year post-partum, you will be back to your normal pre-baby weight. Even if you didn’t exercise vigorously. Your body wasn’t depositing extra “fat” cells while pregnant. It was depositing “grow baby cells.” This is called baby weight.
To illustrate this point: with my first, I gained an impressive 45 pounds. I only know this because I weighed in at the clinic at my checkup the day before I went into labor. I was a beached whale, a balloon on toothpicks, a frightfully rotund version of myself. My body stretched in ways I didn’t know were possible! With my second, I only gained 25 pounds. How odd! With your second, you’re supposed to gain more, show more quickly, and so on.
I give these numbers to illustrate that there’s no magic weight gain that’s right. The important part is that you do gain. And you let yourself do it peacefully.
2) Stretching skin may not stretch back.
There’s no magic formula for keeping your skin’s elasticity and avoiding stretch marks. There are lots of great products out there that can help, like my sister’s beautiful Momma Moon skincare line, including “Massage in a Bottle” that I lather up with every day. But also consider your diet. Are you eating good fats like avocados? Or bad fats like french fries (but they taste so good–and I want some right now, true confession of a pregnant woman)?
Your thighs. Your back. Your breasts. Your stomach. They will stretch. And those little or big zig zags when baby is out & milk has come in may stay. And we may not wear two piece bathing suits anymore. This is a beautiful humbling reminder that yes, you carried a baby. And yes, you’re joining the millions of other mothers throughout the eons. And yes, your body has scars to prove it.
Remember my post on loving your post baby body?
3) Throwing up & feeling crummy won’t last forever.
Nausea and vomiting are signs of a healthy pregnancy. Not that the lack thereof is a matter for concern in it of itself. Feeling crummy is also normal and terrible. Be sure to complain! It’s totally valid! And it will probably pass after week 14, and start after week 6. That’s a very long time to feel terrible, and especially if you are dying at work during the day, my heart goes out to you. This too will pass, eventually. Or in the terrible words of my grandmother: “It’s not a disease; you’ll get over it.”
My own path for pregnancy seems to be that I vomit the whole time. Thus far it’s proven true with number three, but I have had a day or three reprieve here and there. SO AMAZING not to revisit every meal. I wish I could say this has given me great stoicism, or insights into anti-nausea relief, but it hasn’t. Neither. But, after 9 months, the baby will eventually come and I won’t be sick forever.
4) People will make comments and no matter what they say, it’s wrong.
Remember my post from last pregnancy about 7 things not to say to a pregnant woman?
Oh! You’re 12 weeks–you’re so tiny!
Am I too small? Is my baby not growing? Is there something wrong? Maybe the placenta isn’t in the right place? Should I call my care provider right right now?? Maybe my prenatals aren’t working. Maybe the baby is stunted!
Wow–you’re huge. What a big belly!
Really? I’m only 20 weeks. I have 20 more to go. Are you telling me I’m only going to get exponentially bigger? Are you saying I’m a fat pregnant woman? So much for looking like that maternity clothing model. So is everyone thinking this? My baby is too big? Will I be able to give birth vaginally? Will my stomach ever shrink back to quasi-normal?
Ignore any physical comments, give a withering look, or just smile with your eyes glazed over. Unless it’s your mother or your care provider (or maybe a sensitive sister), everyone else can jump in the lake. They’re not a professional, nor did they birth you, so what do they know about normal pregnancy sizing?
5) Your baby is a precious gift, and your body a vessel to grow it.
From the moment that egg & sperm connected, you’ve got a bundle of growing, rapidly changing, multiplying, amazingly unique cells that consist of your . . . positive pregnancy test sign! Cause of throwing up! Excitement on name choices! Enthusiasm on gender-discovery! Your baby. It’s here. It’s growing. And you were lucky enough to house it for 9 months–a wholly unique individual who shares your DNA. Everything else aside: the reflux, sleepless nights, restless legs, throwing up, stretch marks, hair growth, hair loss, you’re partaking in a miracle.
Cherish that on those awful days & nights, and hopefully, I really hope for you, it will give you psychological and spiritual reprieve from your discomfort. It does for me. Thank you for this baby!