Disclaimer: I promised to not turn this blog into a pregnancy and baby site, but I hope you'll see by the end of this post that it is about much more than just pregnancy.
The only voice that matters during your pregnancy is your healthcare professionals (doctor, midwife, etc). I have often struggled with being weight conscious, especially in high school and college. In the past, I starved myself, counted every calorie, beat myself up after any "cheat meal" or skipped workout. It's easy to blame this on being female, but I think that's crap. Just because I'm female doesn't mean I should spend my whole life on a diet. As you can imagine, and perhaps have experienced if you also struggle with weight concerns, being pregnant does not alleviate this. Thankfully in my late twenties, I got fed up with always worrying about losing "just five more pounds". I started making a conscious effort to shut up that mean inner voice and start talking to myself in a much nicer tone. Yes, I know this sounds weird for some and yes, it may sound like I'm veering off topic. I'll tie it all together by the end. For some tips on changing your inner voice, here are a few articles I found online: How to Change the Chatter of your Inner Voice and How to be Nicer to Yourself.
After a few years of making a special effort to be kinder and more loving to myself, especially around my appearance, I got pregnant. Leading up to getting pregnant, I had a lot of concerns about how I would look, how I would feel, how my small frame and short torso would carry 25+ pounds of extra weight. A few years ago, I even told my husband that I would get a personal trainer during and after pregnancy, that I would do everything possible to get back to my former self, my running form, my pre-pregnancy jeans. And then I got pregnant. The first trimester has been the most difficult for me so far. I was exhausted, barely worked out, could barely eat anything, was nauseas all day. But about a month into the second trimester, I started feeling like my old self. I got back into weight lifting, fast walking (instead of running), and started prenatal yoga classes. And around 22 - 24 weeks, the real baby bump finally showed up, and you know what? I feel gorgeous almost every single day. I never expected that leading up to pregnancy. I certainly don't love all aspects of being pregnant, but I love my bump and changing body. And no, I'm not "just lucky". It took a lot of working on my inner voice over the years to get to this point, and yes, I've made balanced healthy (and treating myself) choices throughout this pregnancy.
If we're being totally honest, I had a little bit of a freakout when I started nearing ten pounds gained. My glucose test was approaching and my doctor reminded me about only gaining one pound per week, so I started tracking my meals to insure I was following a healthy diet. Thankfully, I passed the glucose test with flying colors and have measured exactly right on track with weight gain and baby growth since. At thirty weeks of pregnancy, I have gained fifteen pounds. If I sound like I'm putting myself on a pedestal the truth is, I am. Sometimes that's important and part of the process of improving your inner voice. Growing a baby is really difficult some days (heartburn is no joke), so instead of beating ourselves up, why not give ourselves a pat on the back when we eat the recommended portions of fruits and veggies, get in a nice long walk, or when our hormonal-caused fuller hair just looks really good? The whole pregnancy glow thing may be crap, but our nails are looking extra shiny and long these days!
I have struggled off and on from about the age of eight to feel good about myself. Unfortunately, being pregnant somehow makes every single person around you think they have the right to weigh in on your appearance. In the last three months, I have been called "huge", "fatty", and "adorable". I have been the bearer of numerous comments about someone else who is either further along, less far along, or has a similar due date and our weight and size is always compared. And at least once a week, someone (a friend, family member or complete stranger) gives me feedback on what it will be like for me to lose the baby weight after delivery. For the first time in my life really, most of the comments just go in one ear and out the other. I'm building a baby, I don't care that I carry differently than others or some days look bigger than other days. I also am not the least bit concerned about losing the baby weight. I am more concerned about carrying to full-term and delivering a healthy baby. And honestly, the things I most look forward to post-baby are a less limited diet (sushi and wine!), not peeing four times a night, and being able to get back into running (albeit very slowly at first). I'm perfectly fine wearing maternity leggings and jeans for a while - they're comfy!
Sadly, I am not always much better about the pregnancy weigh-ins. I have made comments to my husband and friends about other pregnant women and their weight. I am not faultless, I'm trying to work on it. I do think it's important to take care of yourself during pregnancy. I hate that some woman look at pregnancy as an excuse to eat whatever they want, because they look as life post-baby as one long diet. I think that's really sad, especially with so much delicious food out there! I think it's important to find a balance of healthy eating and treating yourself whether pregnant or not. But most importantly, and my main point behind deciding to post this, is I hope that we pregnant women (and future or current moms) can start banding together in our support for one another. I don't care how much or how little you gained, I care that you have a healthy baby and delivery. I want the best for you, just like I want the best for me and my baby. If I commit to working on myself, will you commit with me? And can we commit together to not discuss post-baby weight loss during playdates? Just remember, it took nine months to grow our sweet babies and every line and mark is a sign of our amazing endurance and strength. I want my daughter to hear how much I loved getting to know her slowly over nine months, not how long it took or hard I worked to erase the experience from my body.