Pregnancy + Body Image so far
Today I’m 14 weeks and 5 days pregnant, which (for me) means none of my pants fit comfortably anymore, but I don’t have a significant baby bump yet. I really feel like this post is a journal entry about what I’m experiencing now since I’m writing to you while still being in it. I don’t have it all figured out, but I wanted to share thoughts and feelings I’m having so far. When recovering from an ED and exercise compulsion, I got to a good place and then started talking about it on the blog. Since this is my first time being pregnant, you’re going through all this with me as I’m experiencing it :)
The biggest thing I was struggling with in early pregnancy was, “I’ve done all this body image work and am I only okay in my body if it stays one size?” I discussed this with another ED dietitian and she echoed back to me the question I had just asked her saying, “ARE YOU only okay at one body size?” To which I had to take some time to think about.
I’ve now realized (and I talked about this before) March was SUPER overwhelming for me with switching jobs, having to do things that were egodystonic (like quitting a job I loved and feeling like I let people down), opening up my private practice (which I really love), and the hormonal changes of early pregnancy that left me feeling nauseous, apathetic, unhappy and sad for 2 months. In that time it was easier to blame my changing body for this unhappiness and discomfort I was feeling than to get to the root of the issue.
I was annoyed that I felt body image struggles were coming up for me after days, months, an entire 2 years of me rarely thinking of my body’s size. I’ve now come to the realization that it’s not fair for me to be frustrated with myself when I’m going through something I’ve never gone through before. It’s okay there are times I feel like I don’t know how to handle things. In the beginning of pregnancy I would visualize myself writing “student” on my hand to remind myself to have self-compassion for all the changes I was going through for the first time.
A couple things I’ve been doing that have been helpful in pregnancy so far are:
- Saying to myself a lot, “GROW THAT BABY!” in the same voice a game show announcer would say the name of the game show. Andrew was really the one that came up with this one when he started saying, “do what you need to do to grow that baby!” And it could also be said, “allow your body to do what it needs to do to grow that baby.”
- Another one of my mottos for pregnancy is, “buy clothes that give my body the room it needs to grow.” For me that meant around 8 weeks pregnant buying stretchy pants and flow-ier shirts.
For a while I was reading some pregnancy books and they are awful. They all say unhelpful messages like, “pregnancy is not time to let yourself go” and “be careful to not gain too much weight.” All super diet mentality things. So once I got rid of those ridiculous, unhealthy books I’ve been feeling much better.
Because when it comes down to it, my body knows how to gain weight during pregnancy and I don’t need some book micromanaging my weight.
You know, it’s weird to me that women get so much support during pregnancy. I’m seeing my OB monthly, and then will start seeing her every 2 weeks, and then eventually weekly. Then once postpartum comes care plummets when I’ll probably be needing someone to talk to most. Andrew is saving up his vacation time and he will be able to take off a solid two weeks after the baby comes, so I know I’ll have him for support during that time. I am considering scheduling therapy sessions for the postpartum period just to make sure I’m not bottling things up and to check in with someone on my emotional state. The first trimester emotions were brutal. So i’m gonna be super interested to see how I’m feeling postpartum.
In any big life change (going to college, getting a new job, being pregnant, etc.), know some stuff may come up for you and it’s okay if you don’t have everything figured out. I sure know I don’t. But I do know that there is nothing wrong with my body size now and there will be nothing wrong with my body size when I’m 30+ wks pregnant and nothing wrong with my body size when I’m in my fourth trimester (hello, postpartum).
My readers who are mom’s who have been through pregnancy before:
I’d love for you to share any experiences on your changing body or changing emotions before/during/after pregnancy. I know myself and other readers would love to hear them :) Many readers have expressed they fear getting pregnant because their body will change size and I would love to get a conversation going in the comments section to help support (you, if you are still struggling with some of this stuff) and our future mom’s who need support. I value your experience so much and am grateful to hear your input.