Women are told they should feel beautiful and all glowy during pregnancy, but for many, this is far from true. Being pregnant can have its fair share of ugly side effects. It’s not the same for every woman, but they can include stretch marks, bloating and swelling, weird rashes, aches and pains (and don’t get me started on the gross heartburn and embarrassing gas ha ha!). Oh and the weight gain! For some, it’s scary and shocking, watching helplessly as their butts, boobs and bellies expand. As a result many mommies-to-be dispel the myth that you are going to feel gorgeous during pregnancy. While I haven’t always felt my very prettiest, and sometimes had to apply a good shimmer to get that glowy look (Nars highlighter in Albatross from Sephora does the trick!), pregnancy has made me learn to really appreciate my curves, and truly embrace my shape as it changes with my growing baby.
If you know me well, or if you read my previous blog “A Lighter, Brighter Life”, you will know that I have struggled with my weight and body image issues since my mid 20s. Like many women, I couldn’t embrace my shape, and was always looking for a quick and easy way to shed weight. I would lose weight, but it never seemed to be enough, and then I’d gain it back eventually. Finally, I learned the only way to lose weight and keep it off was the healthy way, through a balanced diet and exercise. I eventually lost almost 40 pounds. It took me a long time to actually like my body, to not focus only on my weight as a marker of my success, and to learn that I couldn’t wait for life to start when I had lost another 10 pounds.
I was there before I got pregnant. Yes, I wanted to really get in shape and slowly continue to lose more weight by eating well, but I was a happy girl and for the first time, not focused on the numbers on the scale. So getting pregnant initially worried me: how would I deal with the weight gain? would I go back to being unhappy as my shape changed? would I freak out as the numbers on the scale climbed higher with every passing month? I wasn’t worried about returning to previous unhealthy habits, but I was worried that I would go back to hating my body: it’s not a good place to be in, and I didn’t want it to overshadow such a happy time in my life.
After finding out I was pregnant at 5 weeks, and getting through 7 weeks of pregnancy sickness, I started to gain weight around week 13. After I got passed the “Is she pregnant or just gaining weight!?” phase, and my belly really grew, I started to love it. Going shopping at a maternity store for the first time, I got really excited. I loved how the maternity clothes fit, and felt that my curves were finally getting put to good use. I put on a fashion show for Jon when we went to Motherhood Maternity: I felt so cute in the maxis, empire waist dresses, leggings and flowy tops. I spent a small fortune but felt amazing (I was very happy to learn Gordman’s in Minot carries Motherhood Maternity, and it’s cheaper…the perks of living near the border!)! Over the next months, I bought more maternity clothes and became more bold with my choices: I got horizontal stripes and white jeans, fitted dresses, shorts and tanks; things that I usually avoided prior to pregnancy. I didn’t want to just hide behind slimming black anymore: bring on the pastels and bright colours! And no longer did I feel I needed Spanx under a snug dress: I was finally proud of my belly, hips and thighs. I wanted to show this new, even curvier, more confident me off!
Maternity wear has come a long way since the days when women felt they had to hide their bumps under layers of loose, unflattering clothes. Maternity clothes were modest, even into the 70s and 80s, and the trend was for expectant mothers to hide their growing curves under flowy fabric, peasant blouses and tent dresses. Then in the 90s things changed: Demi Moore flashed her bare belly, and more, on the cover of Vanity Fair, making it known to the world that pregnant women can in fact be sexy and show it all off. While we may not all be ready for a naked pregnancy photo shoot (I for one do not want a visual reminder of all of my cellulite at this point…or ever!), we are lucky that we get to choose whether or not we show off our baby bump, and we now get to do it more fashionably than ever before. We have a variety of chain stores that cater to women looking to stay fashionable through pregnancy, not to mention all the designer brands that now have maternity lines. Although even the maternity chains might be more costly than where we regularly shop, or it might pain us to know we are splurging on a new wardrobe that will only get us through the next two trimesters, they really do help us preggers feel pretty, at a time when we may need all the help we can get.
As I head into the home stretch, and the numbers on the scale begin to climb steadily higher, I try to have no fear, but I am still just a girl. Gaining weight is never fun, so I have to keep reminding myself it just means my baby girl is growing, and that is a very good thing! I have been at the weight I am now before, but it’s for a great reason this time! I have been heavier than this, so I tell myself it is not the end of the world and that I can work to get back down to pre-pregnancy weight after baby arrives…or after life settles down and I have the time and energy to get back to eating well and exercising. I can even work towards my goal of really getting fit and lose more weight over time…but that’s what I have: time to reach these goals! For now, I can just be happy with where I am, busy growing a baby ❤
The hardest part for me has been the little changes my body encounters, things that only I can see: namely my boobs. I used to see a woman in a movie and wonder, “What is up with her boobs!?” Well now I know, she’s a mother. One friend said she wished she’d taken a picture of hers before she got pregnant, cause they will never look like that again. It’s not that they are ugly all of a sudden, it’s just, they are very different…and for some, they are huge! I had big ones to begin with, so you can only imagine how much more they’ve grown!! And I am only 33 weeks!!! The first trimester they were so tender, heavy, and just getting in and out of a bra was excruciating. Now in the third trimester, I started getting sharp, shooting, pains. I am told this is likely due to baby’s first milk, colostrum, coming in. Another dear friend said while this pregnancy side effect might be painful, it is also beautiful, as it means my boobs are getting ready to fully produce.
After the boob pain subsided, I let my friend’s advice sink in, and knew it to be true: amidst the sucky side effects of pregnancy, there are great things happening too. They may be unexpected and strange, but still, they are wonderful. Growing a life inside you is hard work, and it takes a toll on the body, but it is still a miracle…it just so happens to be one that occurs daily. I got to experience the good side effects, including shiny, healthy hair and good skin. So even though I may now be gaining more weight than I would like, and my body has changed in ways I never imagined (oh and I have yet to experience what labour and delivery does to my body…that will be a whole other post I’m sure!), I am happy knowing that each change brings me one step closer to becoming a mother, and to meeting the new love of my life.