Yeah…Immaeatthat

May 18

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:

  1. 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.” 
  2. 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.

39 comments on “Pregnancy + Body Image so far”

  1. I don’t know nothin’ ’bout birthin’ no babies!!!! (Please tell me know this is a Gone with the Wind reference) – But I am praying for all you, Kylie, and all the baby mammas!!!!

  2. i think redirecting the one size questionback at you could be an “a haa” moment.sometimes we are so focuse don the common instant response often from years of the ed drumming it into it.so that first fear and flight gith response is to say “no I need to only be this side” but by your dieticion directing it ast you then I felt even in myself hang on a minute here.am I ok with changing where,waht,how is this fear or ingrained need to be one size coming from.and no size changes.and the fear and instant need isn’t from the actual size.why does anyone ever need to be so rigid with there look?and its actually just fear itself fear from life.babies.pregnancy and all other stuff that compounds via ed illness to push body image being the reason.and its not.its a symptom of my other fears

  3. Thank you so much for sharing all of your thoughts! You’re so right re the lack of post partum care. In addition to your great idea to schedule therapy, I HIGHLY recommend finding new moms groups in your area whether it’s through your hospital, local library, church etc.. the moms I met in mine have become my best friends and we have such an amazingly supportive momma tribe that provides meals for each other (as many of us are now having our second kiddos), message each other constantly, form playgroups etc.. it’s so nice to be able to chat, commiserate, advise each other during what can be a wonderful but challenging time of life.

  4. When I got pregnant with my first kid I thought it very interessting that ALL OF A SUDDEN people were expecting for me to know how to intuitively eat. They were rooting for my cravings, were applauding the third cheeseburger. I felt wonderful, loved the bump, did not care about the pounds. I did try not to eat too much sweet foods, but did not limit myself much. All of a sudden self care and cravings were socially accepable because they were not “self” they were “baby” care. And I enjoyed every bit of it. My really bad “awakening moment” was after giving birth. All of a sudden the acceptance was gone, the “have you lost the baby weight yet…..” questions were looming. “what you don’t fit in your normal cloths yet…..you need loose that fast otherwise it will stick….”. It was terrible, I put so much pressure on myself, stopped eating and that due to lack of nutrition I was not able to nurse my child fully. I had an excellent midwife who snapped me out of it, told me to eat more, eat cake, eat high calorie food and all of a sudden I was able to nurse well – but unlike many moms I did not loose the baby weight with nursing. Now I believe that it had to do with all the diets I did in my life. That my body was not going to let go of any weight while having to feed a baby. I had scared my body so much into believing that another spout of famine was around the corner that it just gave me the biggest cravings. Once I had stopped nursing though it all came off with zero effort (as the massive cravings were gone). Then the body was able to let go. In my second pregnancy I just did not care. I ate normally and in my hospital bag I had put a massive amount of nut cookies, once my second son was born I started eating every time I felt like it. Nursing was easy and perfect. I bought bigger cloths for the time I nursed him. I felt comfortable two sizes up. I stopped nursing and most of the weight just disapeared like it had before. Not all. And I really do not care. It might come of, and it might not. The truth is a child will change almost everything in your life. And a pant size up really is not relevant in the big picture. To be a happy mom with happy kids requires a lot of energy, fighting your body in the process takes away from special moments. And with my little kids I think that they prefer a soft mom, one to cuddle into, a comfortable lap to sit on, warm soft arms to hold them, somebody who is truly present with them.

    • This line…”To be a happy mom with happy kids requires a lot of energy, fighting your body in the process takes away from special moments.” So beautiful! I saw a quote recently that said, “stay soft. It looks beautiful on you” :)

      Thank you for sharing, Barbara<3

    • I really enjoyed reading your comment Barbara. Thank you for sharing your experience.

    • Great perspective. You really nailed it! I hate how you go from being encouraged to eat what you want and rest when you need to it that ‘post baby body’ mentality. The focus shouldn’t be on loosing weight but getting back in touch with your body and what IE and health means to you now.
      Side note – doesn’t every women who has given birth automatically have a post-baby body :p

  5. Hi Kylie…as a teenager I was bulemic and in my early 20s overexercised and under ate. Somewhere in my late 20s it finally clicked that eating was important too! The Crossfit program I was part of helped a lot Bc it’s about being strong not looking a certain way. I was in that program when I got pregnant with my first, almost three years ago. I worked out during pregnancy and felt great, but went through a phase between 12 and 20 weeks or so that I call the “is she pregnant or just fat” phase. I also carried my babies in a way that my belly never stuck out super big, so with my first it was a long phase of is she pregnant or fat. It made for some days where i just felt gross but then once I could feel my baby move even if I felt gross I had something to remind me that it wasn’t gross I was growing a baby!!! Also when you are pregnant your body and life all of a sudden become the subject of people’s inappropriate questions and comments. I learned early to ignore them for the most part, except some hormonal days it was a little hard. But overall it’s your body and your baby. You decide what to do and how to feel! I overheard someone asking a friend what she thought of a name and wanted to say “name your baby what you want it’s YOUR baby!!” It’s so easy to get caught up in what others think or are doing. But there are a million different ways to have a baby and raise a child! Do what you want and what feels right for you and your family, you don’t have to make anyone else happy. That’s been my mantra this whole time and it’s working well. I’m actually right now six months post baby number two. It was a little easier the second time around knowing what to expect and such, still had the is she pregnant or fat phase. Post baby is hard and a whirlwind. Baby 1 was a steep learning curve but what helped was finding ways to care for myself and to do that self care you talk about so often. And for me that included some type of movement mainly walks with the baby. I also wore the baby a lot which is good exercise too! I haven’t done a structured workout in almost three years. I miss it because I loved it but I don’t mind because now exercise is chasing these kids around. My body is different and softer and a little bigger in places but I’m trying to be forgiving. Having clothes that fit is important post partum. You’ll be able to wear your maternity stuff for awhile but then you’ll get in this weird in between phase where your old clothes still don’t fit but neither do your maternity things. Invest in a few pieces that do fit. Nothing makes me feel worse about myself than clothes that don’t fit! That’s my biggest suggestion on post baby. Then once you have two under the age of three most days are about surviving! Hah!

  6. I was in a state of quasi recovery when I became pregnant almost 3 years ago. The intense hunger that comes in the first trimester was scary for me but little by little I let go and started trusting my body more to let it ask for what it needed. The weight gain surprisingly wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be; I was still exercising which made me feel good in my growing body. I struggled the most post partum. The intense monitoring and support diminishes and I felt really isolated at times. My daughter also developed pretty bad reflux which was stressful to work through and breastfeeding was a struggle. My mental health took a nosedive post partum and I didn’t take very good care of myself. If I had the chance to do things differently I would definitely have tried to get involved in some mommy groups to decrease the isolation I felt and reach out to family members more. Despite the difficulties I experienced, having my daughter is the best thing that has ever happened to me. Being a mother has taken me closer to the person I’ve always wanted to be; confident in who I am as a person and not afraid to voice my opinions and stand up for myself. Congratulations on your growing little one and enjoy every minute of this special time:)

  7. I love this quote:
    “Body image struggles are an external representation of an internal struggle you are having trouble processing through.”

    I have found this to be so true. Well wishes Kylie, you are a beautiful person.

  8. Mom of an almost 4 year old chiming in. I have never been a tiny person. I’m built stocky, and I’ve come to love that about myself. My body changing during pregnancy was fascinating and fun, and very uncomfortable toward the end (!). I really enjoyed the process. But I won’t lie, there were times when I had to push back the “what are you going to look like afterward” thoughts, but that’s exactly what I did. I pushed those back by visualizing myself with a happy baby in my arms.

    After she was born, I ended up feeling this amazing sense of accomplishment and gratitude for what my body did, and I promised it that I’d never talk down to it again, for my own and my daughter’s sakes.

    And I had a tough time getting pregnant. There were painful/invasive tests and medications involved, and even though I was frustrated, I focused on what my body has done for me, rather than what it hadn’t. My body has healthfully carried me for 30+ years, and I’m very grateful for it.

  9. I have so many thoughts about this because I’m in the “fourth trimester” with my third. Really, the hardest thing about motherhood for me is how your body is not your own and it becomes this living sacrifice. Sacrifices are beautiful and meaningful, but they ain’t pretty. The stretching and puffiness and varicose veins and general discomfort of pregnancy is necessary to grow a HUMAN BEING(!!!!) and then afterwards you’re all soft and saggy and leaking milk, losing hair and having night sweats, and you’re still growing that baby! I struggled with nursing my first because I was not prepared for that all-encompassing nature of nursing. You’ve just been thought this huge physical event that requires recovery (even if it was a totally normal delivery) but when you’re nursing, it’s 24-7, whenever the baby wants it, and you have to eat and drink nonstop to keep things going! It’s really overwhelming! It’s good that you’re preparing to have help and to see a therapist. Most women have this mentality that they just bounce back after baby, in all aspects of life but that’s a dangerous mind set in my opinion. And speaking of bouncing back, I’m two months postpartum here and I’m rocking a significant pooch, flabby arms and a big leaky chest and I feel so frumpy and unattractive. But the thing is, I always think my sisters and friends who have just had babies look so beautiful and soft postpartum. I need to extend the same grace to myself instead of imposing the world’s standards of beauty and body on myself. I know my kids love me to death and think I’m beautiful and my husband (who I would really die without, he’s such a help and so selfless) is in awe of how I’m up all night feeding the baby and take care of the kids during the day and manage to get dinner on the table, etc. I guess it is a lot, if you think about it! Anyway, don’t be afraid to ask for help and don’t be afraid to eat more and just lay on the couch. Your baby needs you to be a relaxed, nourished, healthy mama!

  10. So many feels for you! Thank you for opening up this space to talk. I was listening to FoodPsych and the guest was Lindsay Stenovec- you probably already follow her- but she’s great intuitive eating AND 4th trimester RD. My kids are all teens now- well, 12, 14 and 16- and all boys. I would have loved for this kind of conversation to be happening when I was newly post-partum. I think you are on the right track to taking care of yourself as a human and a mom. BOTH are equally important and deserving of care. There is definitely not enough support for women after the baby has come. That is maybe the most important time for you to be doing your self-care and maybe the hardest as well. I love that you are considering scheduling your therapy now and 100% think that’s awesome. Schedule all of your self care. And definitely ditch the baby books. Putting on a diaper- you’re going to figure that out either way. Taking care of your whole body and brain- put your energy there. I could go on and on but no one wants to hear that. Love all of your thoughts and your soft body and soul.

  11. I have ED and have been through 2 pregnancies. I would say it has helped me because more loving of myself. The only hard part is some an separation but that’s more of a discomfort/pain than a vanity thing. It helps to surround yourself with other mothers/women who are going though this with you. I think I always have my good and bad days but grateful my body was able to have children after all the crap I put my body through. And I definitely agree with your counseling for after baby, it is the hardest thing to be alone and no one to talk to. I got a mentor/counseling with my first and it was the best thing I ever did!!!!

  12. I have an 18 month old and a 7 week old, so lots of recent experience with this. :) During pregnancy, I didn’t have body IMAGE issues at all, but towards the end (especially the 2nd), I started getting very frustrated with what my body wasn’t able to do anymore, or wasn’t able to do comfortably. Such as: shaving, tying my shoes, painting my toenails, pick up/play with my oldest, etc. It didn’t bother me at all with how my body looked, it killed me with how my body functioned! After my first was born, I went back to my original size pretty quickly, and thought I was in the clear for body image issues. When she was around 8 months old, I decided that it was time to stop nursing, and I gained half of my pregnancy weight back within a few weeks. That’s when I got my body image issues, big time! Not long after that, I found out that I was pregnant again. Now, 7 weeks after my 2nd daughter, my body is already back to pre preggo size. Hopefully when I stop nursing, I’ll be able to listen to what my body needs better, and be ok with the size that it chooses, but we’ll see.

    P.S. You think you’re hungry all the time while pregnant, just wait until (if) you nurse. It’s like, absolutely impossible to get me full. LOL

  13. I’m still working through my postpartum body issues (10 months later), but I will say that the first two weeks after having my son were rough. I wasn’t connecting with him the way I thought I should be, I wasn’t sleeping and my mind was playing tricks on me.

    This is controversial, but what helped me almost immediately was giving up breastfeeding. He had trouble latching and I had low output. I know “breast is best” and I don’t argue with that, but I really believe that formula was the best thing for my mental health and, ultimately, my son. And now he’s a perfectly healthy 10 month old, meeting all of his milestones and just really, really stinking adorable.

    This is beyond the scope of your question, but people put so much pressure on women to breastfeed so I like to remind those who are about to become mothers that it’s okay if you can’t/don’t want to.

    • My 2nd is a month old and both times I’ve stopped breastfeeding for mental health reasons. This time round though it was only after we switched and he started flourishing that we realised he hadn’t been getting enough from me.
      Healthy has so many different aspects, and it’s hard to have a healthy baby without a healthy mother.

  14. I used to wonder how I would feel about having a “big” belly while pregnant, but I honestly love it! I think this became even more true for me once I started feeling baby moving and kicking and NOW I can also see the movements from the outside (which is both weird and cool all at the same time). Feeling the baby made everything feel SO much more real, and it also made me love and want to care for the baby 10 million times more than I already did. I think when you think of the outcome of a baby coming from all of your body’s changes, it honestly makes the whole situation pretty cool.

    On another note, I totally relate to what you are saying about having some fear of postpartum. I definitely think I am more prone to anxiety and depression than some, so I am definitely hoping to be proactive about the possibility of that. One of my close friends who is a mom recommended checking in with my feelings/emotions and how I am doing on a weekly basis and discussing this all with my husband. I also expect him to hold me accountable for taking care of myself mentally and physically during that time.

  15. Well my “baby” just turned 14 in April. And while I never had an eating disorder, I suffered from body image issues my entire life. Pregnancy was difficult for me. I stayed active and healthy but I can only describe that time as feeling “disconnected” from my body. I had a friend, same age as me, who LOVED being pregnant (she had 3 kids!). I was never “comfortable” in my pregnant body. But during that time I still struggled with body image issues. It wasn’t until nearly 10 years after having my son that I found freedom from those “voices” (and at nearly 45 years old I still have to be proactive so as not to let that consume me!). But now, instead of shaming a pudgy stomach, I am thankful that this body grew a healthy boy. I wish I would have enjoyed those 9 months more, but my son and I have a super bond, so it wasn’t like I didn’t love that baby growing inside me, it was just the relationship with my body. After having my son, I’ve run tons of marathons and half marathons, I’m fit and strong. Enjoy this special time and the amazing thing that your body is doing. We are blessed to be women able to grow a human being.

  16. I was super nervous about what my body image would be like when I was pregnant. However, it was actually the best I think I’ve ever felt about myself because I was able to stop focusing ENTIRELY on myself/my body/appearance and shift my mentality toward eating what was nourishing physically and mentally and would be healthy for my baby to grow. I felt so in tune with my hunger cues when I was pregnant (which I know is probably unusual) and it actually wasn’t until after I gave birth when my ED and body image issues came creeping back. I felt a lot of pressure to “get my body back” and overworked myself to do so. I think if I knew then that it was okay to not be back in pre-pregnancy jeans two weeks after giving birth, I probably could have enjoyed the experience of new motherhood a lot more. I hope to get pregnant again later this year, and feel like I am much better equipped now to handle these issues and enjoy the experience more while allowing my body to do what it needs to after the process is over.

  17. Hi! I recently had my son in January, and I think being pregnant actually helped me with my body image and with intuitive eating. I started to really listen to my cravings and what my body was trying to tell me and focused a lot on self care, like prioritizing sleep and resting and only moving in ways that felt good. I just kept telling myself that I was growing a human and that there was no job more important than that- it helped me to stop focusing on how I looked and more on how I was feeling. And you’ll be amazed at how little you’ll care about how your body looks when your baby is born. You won’t have the time or energy to care, haha, and you’ll be so focused on that precious babe. I also just kept focusing on how incredible our bodies are and how lucky I was to be able to carry a child when so many women out there can’t. It really put things into perspective!

  18. Hey! So I debated on whether or not to comment and what to say exactly… I decided to go with the raw truth version. I had an ED for many years and was in what I perceived to be recovery for at least 4-6 years prior to becoming pregnant. 2 years ago, I found out I was pregnant with twins who are now 1 1/2 😊. After pregnancy, I felt great at first. I had hope that my weight would return to what it was before, I mean all my friends’ weights had returned to their pre-preggo weights, so why wouldn’t mine? Over a year of postpartum time with intuitive eating, full time work, no family nearby, little sleep, and no free time for extra prep cooking or exercise, my weight did stabilize! It just happened to be a little higher than I was comfortable with, and I’m still working on being comfortable with it. But I have done more body image work in these past 18 months than I ever did before. And I’m proud of this body, oh so proud! And I have a wonderful, loving husband and two healthy children that I grew in this belly of mine. And I’m strong and I have energy to carry two babies all around. I will say that postpartum has been quite the journey for me, but it’s been an incredible learning experience that I wouldn’t want to change. So regardless of what happens postpartum, know that you’re not alone, you have support, and there are other strong women who have been through it too. It’s not all rainbows and butterflies, but having these little nuggets is the best journey ever 😊❤ And truthfully, I’m so much stronger from having been through this body image work.

  19. i am not in that phase of life but is super helpful knowing that these things will happen…and its only natural. i value your advice SO MUCH!!!!

  20. best thing i can say is don’t compare your weight gain while pregnant or weight loss after baby to anyone else. I gained X pounds during both pregnancies (pretty much all of which came from weeks 20-40 since I was so sick) and didn’t start showing to a point where strangers could identify a baby bump until about X weeks. That doesn’t make me any better or worse than someone who gained 10 pounds during the first trimester and started showing at week 10. I also lost all the weight within just a couple weeks after having both babies. Not everyone will do that. Again, it doesn’t make me any better or worse…it’s just the way my body handled pregnancy. Be kind to yourself and to other mamas. I may have lost all X pounds in 2 weeks but I spent 5 months trying to take care of a crazy toddler and a baby that literally screamed almost 24 hours a day and didn’t take naps. We all have our battles. Also, I only looked at the scale at dr visits with my first, and didn’t look at the scale a single time with my second. I just trusted my body to do what it needed to do and trusted my doctor to tell me if there was a problem with it.

  21. I love your perspective on all of this and wish I had had such a healthy mentality. Like you, my first trimester was rough. I gained, like X lbs in the first trimester because the only thing that made the nausea go away was eating constantly.
    I had my placenta encapsulated, which I believe greatly helped me through the “fourth trimester”, but when my daughter was about 3 months old things got rough for me. I believe that’s when my placenta pills ran out and she hit the 3 month sleep regression.
    I think your plan for having a postpartum mental health plan is a good one.
    I’m sending lots of positive energy your way!

  22. When I got pregnant with my first son I was in a pretty good place with my anorexia recovery. I was still fairly structured with my eating and exercise. I had a great pregnancy and liked my body for the first time in my entire life. I think I was more accepting of the weight change because it was for a reason and not just because I was getting bigger. I wanted to highlight my belly instead of hide it like usual! I actually wore tighter, more revealing clothes during both of my pregnancies than when not pregnant. After I gave birth, I lost weight a bit too quickly and continued to walk the line between healthy and sick. When I was pregnant with my second son, I was nauseous constantly and I was forced to eat intuitively. I was craving salty chips and cheese and eating was the only thing that made me feel slightly better. This was the best possible thing to happen to me on my eating disorder journey. I listened to my cravings and realized that I was okay! Nothing horrible happened from eating foods that were not my norm. Now that he’s six months old, I’m still eating intuitively and feel strong in my recovery. I continue to struggle with not totally being comfortable with my body especially since my last pregnancy changed it and my clothes aren’t super comfy anymore. But the difference between now and when I was sick is that even when I don’t love my body, I still eat and take care of myself. Being pregnant has helped me to see my body differently. I think about everything my body endured through anorexia and yet I was still able to grow(and breastfeed these two amazing little boys. I see myself through the eyes of my sons. They don’t care that my belly is squishy or that my hips are wider than they used to be. They just see their mom.

    Being a mom has challenged me in so many ways. I can’t control and plan every second of my day like I used to. I have learned to let go and relax and be flexible. That really is what eating disorder recovery is all about. I know I am truly recovered because even on my hardest days I don’t even consider going back to anorexia to ease my anxieties.

  23. Can I just say how amazing you are for having this conversation? I’ve had ED and body image issues most of my adult life and I’m in my 50’s now. You and Robyn have been SO incredibly helpful to me with your approaches to eating and living your life that I’m now in the best place I’ve been since I was a teenager. With that said, I carried 3 full term babies and had overall healthy pregnancies during those years of restriction. I ate what my body wanted/needed and did so without the guilt and shame I lived with when not pregnant. We struggled to have our oldest and experienced a fetal demise with our first baby. I was so grateful to be pregnant that my ED faded into the background immediately. I stopped weighing myself obsessively and ate what I needed to eat to grow that baby. I loved wearing maternity clothes and thought it was awesome when I couldn’t get my underwear on without a struggle because that bump was just everywhere. Breastfeeding made me ravenously hungry and I think I ate more then than I did while pregnant. I held onto some of my weight while nursing but once I weaned my babies my body pretty much went back to where I made it go. While pregnant or nursing I cared for my body very well for my baby’s sake, but afterwards—when it was just me again—I reverted back to the guilt, shame and control. My self worth was completely that number on the scale. For me pregnancy was not full of fear of growing body size, but was instead a beautiful oasis of healthy eating and body image. As Irma Bombeck said, pregnancy is your only opportunity to assist God in a miracle. Your pregnant and post partum body is a beautiful beautiful thing. It’s a miraculous season of your life. Care for yourself in a loving and thoughtful way. The best gift you can give your family is you being healthy and peaceful.

  24. First of all, congratulations!

    I also entered my first pregnancy with a bit of trepidation about the gaining weight/changing body aspect. It’s such a bummer that our culture places focus on that at such an exciting and important time, but there you go. I actually found that I ate and moved way more intuitively while pregnant than not. In fact, going through pregnancy (and delivery and breastfeeding) was a huge milestone in finally celebrating and being proud of my body.

    The sad flip side to this is I only seem to be able to do it when the reason I’m eating for nutrients, moving for pleasure and not beating myself up for “indulgences” is another person. In between having my first and second daughter I swing back a bit into negative self talk, zeroing in on being one particular weight and comparing myself to others. Having daughters, though, has made me even more aware of how important it is to take care of my body and mind as a means of self love, not self hate. Though they are only three and three weeks old respectively, I never want them to hear me complain about a body part or value myself because of my body shape alone.

    All this to say, we were all always a work in progress, but pregnancy is not something to be feared (which I also think is the predominant emotion we are taught to have when pregnant but that’s a whole other story:) Instead, continue to nourish yourself and your baby girl with foods, actions and thoughts that feel good.

  25. Thank you for being so honest and sharing your journey. I’m so excited to see how you learn and grow in terms of health and body positivity throughout this pregnancy. You will just be able to teach your child even more about how to love themselves! I am confident in you. Congrats on the pregnancy!

  26. I’m really excited to follow your pregnancy/motherhood journey. I am so interested to see how you will raise an intuitive eater. It is motivating me as I work through my body image issues, especially when my friends who are pregnant make comments about “getting their body back”.

  27. I don’t know if I’m the only one, but I spent about a year where I logically believed in intuitive eating and knew my eating disorder was harming me, but i was too scared to actually give up my disordered behaviors. My head was in the right place but I couldn’t dive in. I would go a day or week without counting only to slip back. Then I got pregnant and society gave me permission to eat whatever I wanted and needed. I did. I said to myself, “I’m going to have a huge belly no matter what so I might as well try this intuitive eating thing out while the stakes are low”. I tried to be really mindful about my hunger cues and cravings and loved that I was growing my baby. I had hard, uncomfortable days, but I didn’t let myself dwell. The worst part for me was that it felt like everyone felt like they ha unlimited permission to talk about my body (like my sister’s constant comments about my huge butt . . . )

    I am now 10 months postpartum and I love my body more than ever. It grew my beautiful daughter! What a miracle. I eat a lot, sometimes i cant believe it, and have effortlessly returned to my prepregnancy weight (the weight that i was restricting to maintain). I didnt ever restrict or diet and it took 6-9 months, but I didn’t mind much because life is so busy with a tiny human. My body still doesn’t look quite like it did: my tummy is funny, my breasts are huge, and I have some stretch marks on my bum, but I love my body, I really do.

    I love the analogy that our bodies are more like paintbrushes than works of art. They aren’t just something pretty to look at, they are an incredible tool that can do incredible things.

    Sorry for the essay, but I really feel like pregnancy somehow gave me permission to finally be kind to myself. Also having a daughter makes me feel accountable to demonstrate a healthy food relationship.

  28. Kylie, I’ve never commented here, but love your body positive attitude in a world that would like to keep us doubting ourselves. I’m the mom of a son with cerebral palsy and twins. I had my twins unexpectedly at 29 weeks. They were teeny tiny and in the first few weeks of our NICU stay the baby app on my phone was still registering me as pregnant and telling me to down the whole fat dairy. When I updated it with their birthdate it OF COURSE switched to “you don’t need to eat as much as you think you do.” I deleted it (almost) immediately. I wrote an article about this and am linking it here (something I would never presume to do, but feel like it might be a bit of encouragement for other pregnant women or new moms): http://mom-gene.com/2017/04/04/to-all-the-new-moms-who-think-they-need-to-lose-weight/

    Blessings on your pregnancy. I’m praying for a healthy baby and mom. Pregnancy hormones are confusing for all of us. I think you’re handling it all tremendously well.

  29. First off, congratulations!! The first trimester can be pretty horrible. You feel worn out/nauseous/grouchy all the time. I also felt pretty uncomfortable, similar to bloating, with all three pregnancies from 8 weeks on. Oh, and don’t get me started on the gas I had up until the second trimester. Gross, sorry hubs! 
    Anyway, I had dealt with an ED from ages 19-24. Finally had a fairly normal relationship with food for about a year, then became pregnant. Pregnancy ABSOLUTELY made me question my changing body and what I was craving. This was ten years ago. There was little info on intuitive eating in those days, or even blogs, for that matter. (God I’m old!) But I basically struggled the entire first two trimesters because I didn’t have much of a “bump”, so couldn’t justify in my mind why I needed to be eating that much more or give into pregnancy cravings. I did gain around X lbs with that pregnancy and baby was 7lb girl, so average. But nursing also proved to be a huge challenge because breastfeeding hunger is unlike anything I have EVER experienced!!! I’ve ran half marathons… nothing like hunger/cravings of a nursing mom!! 
    I have three kids, the second and third pregnancies were much easier to adjust to and understand because I had done it before (& I also had changed so much in my thinking about my body/food intake.)
    Being a mom required a healthy, strong body… no time to focus on unhealthy and unrealistic body goals. Plus, I want to be a positive role model for my kids. I swear I purposely make sure to comment on why food is good for us and bite my tongue if I notice my clothes feeling tight or see some cellulite on my legs. 
    In closing (good god this is a long comment, sorry!!!) , I think you are on the right path. Your body is growing a human being, eat what sounds good. I craved ALL THE CARBS my first trimesters, then wanted all the fruit. Your body will tell you want your baby needs to be healthy. Stay moving as best as you can, it does help for energy levels , even during labor and after pregnancy. Good luck Mama!

  30. Hey Kylie, congratulations on your pregnancy!
    I was still struggling a great deal with the diet/binge/over exercise thing when i got pregnant two years ago. I actually found that pregnancy wasnthenfirst time since i’d started restricting (13 years earlier ugh) that i felt like i tuned back in and really listened to my body.
    It was a grateful surrender to the knowledge that my body knew what it was doing, and i just had to get out of its way.
    Postpartum has been a trickier path, and i will be the first to admit the recovery process has definitely not been linear, but when i stray back into abstract thoughts about my body and its shape i remind myself that my body is still the same amazing machine that grew my son, and if, when i trust it knows what and how to eat and move,
    It does something that incredible, then it sure knows what it’s doing now.
    Looking forward to your posts throughout this awe inspiring new part of your life!

  31. Kylie,

    I never had a full blown ED, but in the year or two before I became pregnant, I majorly struggled with body image. I was very depressed (didn’t know it then) and took my sadness and lack of self confidence out on my body.

    My pregnancy was a surprise, and I don’t know how or why it happened, but pregnancy helped heal my body imagine issues. Of course I had my “nothing fits” and “I feel like a whale” days, but I was in awe of what my body was DOING and I truly felt beautiful. (It helps that I had an easy pregnancy.)

    My point isn’t to brag or sound like the stereotypical “I love pregnancy” woman. It’s more to show how you never know how you will react to hormones and such a huge life change!

    So be kind to yourself and show yourself grace. Also, kudos for having the foresight to think about your health postpartum. In hindsight, I dealt with some PPD and wish I’d reached out earlier.

    All the best <3

  32. So I am post partum by only two weeks so my experience is very fresh :)

    During pregnancy I really struggled with body image. Prior to birth I had lost almost a hundred pounds by working through some disordered eating behaviors with a wonderful intuitive eating practicing RD. For me, what was the hardest was not just the weight gain but eventually towards the third tri the feeling of being so limited in my body… difficult to stand, walk, tie my shoes, my hips and back and legs hurt all the time. The last month is no picnic, but more than that it reminded me of an unhealthy time in my life (mentally and physically when my weight was much higher than my set point). I also did not want to eat a single “healthy” food (um cheeseburgers? YAS. Salads- which I normally love… barf). In addition to that my obgyn kept telling me to watch my weight over and over and it started to really mess with my head. Finally one obgyn (I went to a practice with several obs) was understanding and I told her I didn’t want to talk about my weight. I understood the “risks” (ha) of being clinically “overweight” but my own mental health was what was more critical. After that I just focused on keeping myself sane, happy, and stress free as much as possible. Like you said, my body did what it needed and gained the weight it needed- I have been left with not too much weight post partum, my baby is super healthy and my body handled labor and delivery as best as anyone could (highly recommend an epidural :) )

    So now post partum… I LOVE my body. It has “bounced back” but not in the way that magazines say. I still have 15 or so pounds of the weight I gained but my body is healing itself, feeding a human being, its strong and pretty freaking incredible. My body feels soft to hold my babe and snuggle my husband. He has been incredibly supportive and has still told me how beautiful and sexy I am… not that your image should be wrapped up in an external perception but hearing that has made me feel womanly and attractive and not just a mom. Real talk… post partum hormones are no joke and babies are a lot of work but the two weeks your husband has with you will also be the most blissful wonderful times as a family. Just enjoy them, be kind to yourselves and each other and just agree to get a little less of the day to day done (lol this comment is 2 days in the making…) I do think that the plan to have a check in with your husband is a good one- maternity leave once everyone goes back to work and leaves you to take care of the baby can be very lonely and isolating. Week three and I’m now thinking of one thing to do each day to get me out of the house and have an adult conversation… even if it’s the grocery store checkout lady. And some self care activities because newborns sleep A LOT.

    Best of luck to you in your pregnancy- I hope the queasiness goes away soon!

  33. Kylie,
    I’m so excited for you. Becoming a mother is seriously the greatest thing ever. As cliche as it sounds. I have a 3 year old and twins that are 1. Every girl needs to do what is right for them.
    Our bodies are amazing and we need to listen to them. Holy breastfeeding hunger. For me the weight shed off quickly after delivery. Nursing seriously took pregnancy weight away for both pregnancies (hello, twins!). My advice: do what feels good and listen to your body. Which is what you already do, you’re going to do an amazing job.
    Also, a little off subject but get yourself and your baby set on a good feed, awake time, sleep routine from day 1. No one functions on sleep deprivation and that’s when mentally things fall apart. My 3 kiddos all slept through the night at 9 weeks old and I attribute it to routine and schedules. Do yourself a favor a read Baby Whisperer by Miranda Hogg.
    Try not to stress about your changing body because nothing is more beautiful than bringing a baby into this world. I think EVERYONE can agree on that.

  34. I’m really glad you’re sharing your thoughts and feelings on this stuff during your pregnancy. I’m still (forever, still) working on recovery, but I do hope to have babies some day, and body image stuff related to that is a big worry for me. Hopefully I’ll be able to take that “grow that baby!!” mentality too! Good luck with everything <3

  35. What a wonderful conversation. I’m sad to say that my eating was very disordered when I was pregnant, and I’m also sad to admit, that I was one of the ones micromanaging what I ate and sweating over gaining “just the right amount” of weight. I am so happy for you, that you are not limiting your experience to the diet culture and that garbage in the pregnancy books.

    Honestly, I lost weight quickly postpartum, and got down to a lower weight than I was prior to pregnancy. It was not due to dieting, however, but due to intense stress given my daughter’s needs. Three years later, two counselors, and after learning IE, I probably have the challenges of postpartum to thank for me getting help. Because it was due to starting to take care of myself again, and then coming back up to a more natural set point for me, that made me start obsessing about getting back to that weird low low for me after childbirth (and then reaching out to a therapist for being so obsessed with “wellness” and my weight).

    To all mamas at any stage or during pregnancy, you are doing a rockstar job and are doing an incredible service to your child/children by working through these hard things, loving yourself as you are, and doing what you can so your children will have a healthy relationship with food!

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