By far the most common craving of pregnant women is not to be pregnant. ~Phyllis Diller
I've been thinking about writing this post for some time now and there is no time like the present because I am now 27 weeks (about 6.5 months) pregnant. This is my second baby and this time it's a girl!
First off, I think there is some shame involved in complaining about our bodies when we are pregnant. I remember before I had experienced pregnancy, myself and a girlfriend were standing in line next to 2 women who looked like they were in their mid-20's who were both pregnant in what looked like their last trimester. I made the comment that they looked so cute (which they did) and one of them scrunched up her face and said, “Yeah, it's cute when it's on somebody else. But when you're the one feeling like a rollie-pollie, it's not so cute”. I didn't get it. I mean, how could you feel so “rollie-pollie” when you're experiencing something so beautiful?
Then I got pregnant and ate my words along with an entire bag of Milano double chocolate cookies.
Nothing can prepare you for the rapid changes that happen to your body during pregnancy. Everything from the expanding belly, to stretch marks for some, breast changes (that includes nipple color), veins showing, and for many, extra fat on the hips, thighs and butt. When I was first pregnant with my son, my mom bought me my first pair of maternity jeans. I turned them around and held up the butt. “These ARE HUGE!” I told her, and informed her and my sister that I would just wear my regular jeans with one of those belly band things and wear them unzipped. My mom and sister exchanged glances. Mom said, “Honey, they might not fit in other places besides your belly.” BLASPHOMY! How dare she spew such nonsense! Several months later I wore the “huge” maternity jeans almost every day.
But in all seriousness, for many women, these changes that we have mostly no control over can be overwhelming. How we view ourselves on the outside is often a direct reflection of how we feel on the inside. I envy those women who can be pregnant and look in the mirror and think, “Look at me! I am a goddess!” I will admit I love my pregnant belly, there is something magical about it and it makes me a little sad to know this will be the last time I will have one, but it's the rest of the body changes that have been difficult, at least for me. It's also not helpful when we see celebrities splashed across the covers of magazines with headlines reading, “Ms. Celebrity loses her baby weight in 4 weeks!”
So, here is my armchair psychologist speech about what you can do to keep your body image in check during pregnancy:
Remember that you are not alone. Women have been pregnant since the beginning of time, millions and millions of them. Try to remember that there is a good chance your body will not look exactly the same as it did before the baby. Your body just had a complete transformation and created another human being, not to mention kept it alive and allowed it to thrive for 10 months! But know that these feelings are normal and won't be permanent. And there may even be a time in the future where you miss being pregnant!
Breast feeding will not help you lose your baby weight all by itself. I remember hearing this and assuming I would get back into my pre-baby jeans because I was nursing. For me, the weight stopped coming off around 3 months and I had to work (gasp! Yes, exercise) to get the additional 15 pounds off I was holding on to. It took another 5 months.
Don't beat yourself up if you are a few pounds heavier than before and/or if your clothes don't fit the same. After I had my son and I was back to my original weight (many, many months later and with great effort), but I was surprised that some of my pants didn't fit the same and others didn't fit at all. My body was not the same, plain and simple. Belly changed, boobs changed, it was like weight got rearranged in other places. I'm pretty sure this is why “mom jeans” were invented.
And this one is for the dads:
The mother of your child needs you now more than ever. Some men view their wives differently when they are pregnant and have a hard time in the intimacy department. Some men find their partners extremely sexy and have no problem in that area. But if you find yourself not remembering the last time you made love to your pregnant wife, make sure you communicate with her. She may be glad for the break, she may not. And here's something else: In many women pregnancy and the changing body can bring on insecurities. We need extra love, attention and affection during this time. More hugs, kiss our bellies and tell us we are beautiful. Now is not the time to be oogling over skinny models. Just last week I had a dream that I overheard my husband tell his buddy he wanted to start going to strip clubs. I told my husband about the dream and had a meltdown. We are not crazy during this time, just a little vulnerable.
P.S. If you're struggling with an eating disorder either pregnant or not pregnant, please get help. Contact NEDA (National Eating Disorders Association). Call them at 1-800-931-2237.
Photo courtesy of daviddesign