The moment I found out I was pregnant, excitement and gratitude filled my heart! I felt (and still feel) so lucky that I get to be a home to and help grow a brand new life. Once those initial moments of bliss settled in and I naturally began to think about all of the changes that would be entering my life over the next 9 months of pregnancy, I felt some anxiety enter in.
As we know, there are things you can’t do while pregnant that makes for major lifestyle changes.
There are days where you’re not feeling well or are too tired to do anything productive, which can be a setback at work and at home. Monetarily, you have to change the way you spend money in order to prepare space and purchase supplies to take care of your new bundle of joy. You can’t eat or drink the same things, you have to be careful about your movements, and there’s a whole long list of other things that you have to change during the 9 months of life-growing. But those things weren’t the anxiety-inducing stressors to me. Those were the exciting parts!
I’m not proud of this, and I know I’m certainly not alone, but the thing that had me stressing was how my body was going to change.
As a woman in today’s society, we’re conditioned to think that smaller is better.
You see it everywhere you look. There’s a diet culture where everyone is trying to do everything it takes to become smaller, leaner, and more fit. We see it in the models in magazines, during online shopping, on advertisements; women are always aiming to fit a certain mold. While I really do believe that healthy body image in our culture is getting better and self-love is becoming a more streamlined conversation, it doesn’t make my self-body image any easier, especially while pregnant.
I am not happy about the fact that a lot of my past has been focused so much on weight or my size. With a lot of hard work, over the last ten years I have been able to really come into more of a self-loving and body accepting mindset. I discovered a great balance between food and exercise and I figured out how to accept my body and focus on my strength.
I was so dead-set on continuing to move forward in this progress that I forgot that pregnancy was a time for growth and a different kind of mindset than I had been living in for the last decade.
Accepting the pregnant body isn’t always easy. In fact, for me it has been a struggle and a big learning opportunity.
I am 21 weeks pregnant as of writing this, and I have gained 13 pounds. In the next 20 weeks I should gain between 12-22 more pounds. For my BMI, I need to gain 25-35 pounds in 9 months. While perfectly normal, as I am growing a human, that mindset of needing to gain weight is a totally backwards concept to me.
As I attend my doctor’s appointments every month and see the scale creep up 3-4 pounds each visit, my first reaction is to give myself a dose of negative self-talk. I instantly forgot that I was doing exactly what I’m supposed to be doing to grow a healthy baby. Instead, my mind went to that number on the scale that kept screaming at me that I was getting heavier.
While some days are still really hard for me to accept my changing body (especially the days where all clothes seem to feel extra tight and uncomfortable), I have been able to adjust my mindset and fully embrace this season that I’m currently in.
This shift in mindset doesn’t come without intentionality and hard work.
Each morning I look at my changing body in the mirror and instead of picking it apart like my mind wants to do, I remind myself that my strong body is doing amazing work. A growing body doesn’t mean a body that is not as good. It means it’s doing what it’s meant to do. This helps me accept each new pound.
I make sure that I am staying as active as my body will allow. I am not giving up activities that I loved doing pre-pregnancy just because I’m pregnant. I am walking 5-6 times per week and lifting weights 3 times per week. I am running around with my toddler. Keeping my body moving helps me feel more strong.
I am eating healthy, just as I did before I was pregnant. I indulge my cravings in moderation. Keeping fruits, vegetables, and protein in my diet helps me keep my balance strong and keeps me from feeling any type of guilt that comes from the cravings.
When it comes down to it, accepting the changing body makes for a very happy pregnancy.
Did you struggle with a changing body during pregnancy? If so, what helped you?
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