Pregnancy and Body Image

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Seeing as I’m now half way through my pregnancy, I figured it’s probably about time that I share a pregnancy post.  Feel free to skip this one if it’s not your bag.  Plus, it’s a pretty wordy post, soz.

Pregnancy is crazy!  And complex.  I’d love to say that I’m enjoying every moment of this wonderful blessing, but that’s not always the case.  Now that I’m in the full swing of the second trimester, actually looking pregnant, and have started to feel the baby kick; for the most part I’m thankful for and happy to be pregnant but it hasn’t come without it’s struggles.

Having suffered from an ED and had brief relapses in my twenties, seeing my body change and gaining weight has been difficult.  I’m used to being able to control my body, my diet and what I weigh.  In the last year or so I’ve definitely become more relaxed with my diet and exercise regime but always within parameters that I’ve chosen.  I even happily gained a few extra kilos in order to help getting pregnant.  However, this didn’t adequately prepare me for how my relationship with my body would change when actually pregnant.

In the first trimester, I was nauseous most of the time and had food aversions to most things that I used to love (veg packed meals, salad lunches etc).  For the most part, the sickness has gone but the food aversions are still there.  I’ve craved carbs, and cheese, and other comfort foods like nobody’s business.  This, coupled with a massive increase in appetite hasn’t been easy.  Furthermore, weight pressures aren’t unique to women who aren’t pregnant (shock).  When pregnant it is also stipulated how much weight you should gain depending on your BMI pre-pregnancy.  So far my weight gain has remained within the healthy range for how far along I am.  But what I didn’t realise before, is that when you’re pregnant, your body will store fat wherever it pleases.  Regardless of where it chose to store fat pre-pregnancy (hello big bum!).

As you can imagine, all these factors can make for a bit of a tricky time.  I know that women who usually have a “healthy” relationship with their body have struggled with their pregnant selves, let alone women who have a more complex history with their bodies.  And I didn’t realise that, for some reason, it’s suddenly ok for others to comment on your pregnant body.  In the last few weeks, I’ve had comments from women (never men, interestingly) on how “fat” I’m getting, and how I look pregnant from behind (not cool), and how I’ve gained weight on my hips and thighs.  There goes my pre-pregnancy images of myself gaining a nice, neat, little bump.  I’m not sure why it’s suddenly socially acceptable to say these things to pregnant women.  Luckily, this unwanted commentary hasn’t spun me into a web of restricted eating.  I love my baby far too much already to even contemplate such actions.  Nonetheless, it hasn’t been good for my mind.  And there have been moments where I’ve just broken down in tears over my struggles with my appetite, body image and pregnancy.  Granted, pregnancy hormones defo have a roll to play in the mentalness!  I’m not much of a crier, but I probably cry on a weekly basis now (and usually over nothing!).

So here are some of the ways I’ve been working on trying to maintain some kind of sanity.  I hope they’re helpful observations in general, and not just for any other pregnant ladies out there.

1.  Accept that sometimes it’s just not possible to have control over your body.

2.  Love your body for what it is, and what it can do rather than what it isn’t and can’t do.

3.  Change your expectations.  This one has been major for me.  For example, I used to make fruit or veg the main feature of every meal but since being pregnant this just hasn’t been possible with my food aversions.  So now I aim to have one meal a day that features veg.  It doesn’t always work, and there are days when I subsist on mainly carbs and sugar, but lowering my standards defo helps.  Gosh, trying to be healthy has a whole new meaning now!

4.  Find a new form of exercise to enjoy.  I miss running and “proper yoga and exercise” massively.  But now, I’m focussing on getting into pregnancy yoga and moving my body most days a week (even if it’s just for a short walk).

5.  Be thankful.

For the most part, I love my pregnant body.  I love seeing my belly swell, and I love wearing clothes that emphasise my baby bump.  Pregnancy is truly amazing.

I’d love to read anything you have to share about your experiences with your body, pregnant or not.  For example, ill health also poses major challenges for one’s relationship with their body, as Gena’s recent post highlighted.  What do you guys do when you’re on the receiving end of unwanted comments about your body from others?

Stay tuned as I’ve got a great soup recipe that’s perfect for welcoming autumn.  I’ve just had some for lunch and couldn’t help going back for more!

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5 thoughts on “Pregnancy and Body Image

  1. It’s funny reading my own thoughts written by someone else. 🙂 I’m 16 weeks along and starting to definitely show, and I’ve started to get those kinds of comments from people (and trying hard to brush them off…). I don’t know why it’s socially acceptable to use the words “fat” “chubby” or “chunky” to a pregnant woman when you wouldn’t normally say them. I struggled with an ED/disordered eating to various extents from the age of 12 to 21 (and hit a very low rock bottom), and though I’ve mostly made peace with my body the last few years, I feel like I’m still more sensitive to those kinds of comments. I, like you, have been eating more carbs than normal as opposed to vegetables (I gag if I even bite into most vegetables right now! My family gets a kick out of the vegetarian with the vegetable aversion…), and I can’t run hardcore like I did pre-pregnancy, so, while it’s hard to let go of some of this control, I just have to accept that my body is doing this for the good of this baby.

    I’m sorry, I’m writing an entire blog as a comment. 🙂

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  2. arent people insane! i mean INSANE!!! i have heard some of the strangest comments about my body since being pregnant. things id never EVER think appropriate to say out loud to another person. i try not to let it affect me, but lets be real, its impossible to not compare yourself to all the other “norms” that you read about throughout these 9 months. i just keep trying to remind myself that people dont know better. or that they dont mean things the way they say them. sometimes there are cultural differences too (especially with my coworkers) so i give them the benefit of the doubt when they tell me my face is filling out (sweet) or i need bigger scrubs. awesome.

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  3. I think it is so rude when people make ANY personal comments. Women always say to me, I love your hair color is it REAL? Wow you have great skin and no wrinkles did you do Botox? It is not OK to insult other women at ANY time but I can imagine that you are ultra sensitive. I’d think of an equally stunning retort like perhaps, “You know you’re not looking well, are you sick? Or, maybe “Your NOT pregnant and you look like you’ve gained a few pounds yourself. Or, how bout “Are you always so rude or do you think my being pregnant gives you the right to say ANYTHING you’re thinking!” the last one is a real zinger. You could also just ignore them and walk away. Still, I hope you hang in their with your positive way of dealing with the downside. Good Luck. Love and Light to You, Kristine

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  4. Hi ladies, thanks for your comments 🙂

    It’s mad isn’t it. I just don’t understand people sometimes. Oh well, maybe as time goes by I’ll start saying something back. I’m starting to feel indifferent… that is until someone makes the next comment! xxx

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  5. Thanks so much for sharing! I’m 12 weeks pregnant and I’d love to set all my insecurities aside and just enjoy being pregnant without a second’s concern for everyone’s comments and observations, but it’s a struggle. A co-worker told me this morning, ” I can’t tell a difference in your belly but I can tell in your face. Your face looks like you’re pregnant.” Hmmm….only 6 more months of this to go!

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