How to: Love yourself pregnant

I don’t actually have a guide for this yet, but I am newly pregnant and figuring things out! I dunno if it’s the case for every pregnant lady but I am HUNGRY, and especially hungry for iron-rich, red meat-y things that aren’t on my typical eating plan. Weight Watchers won’t allow you to attend meetings while pregnant, which is probably really good because there was a tiny part of me that was planning on losing the last 15 pounds while pregnant. When I have a day off, I find that I need at least a handful of naps, and sometimes I fall asleep sitting up. I’m working out still, but currently keeping it to prenatal yoga and pilates and long walks.  I haven’t had a major sweat in at least a month, and when I hit the doctor for confirmation that I was with child, I had gained three pounds.

I am crazy, insanely stressed out about weight gain, but I also suspect that carrying this pregnancy has the potential to fully and forever change my relationship to the body I’ve been struggling with for almost 30 years now. Josh doesn’t like it when I poke my tummy irritably because the baby is hanging out in there. My breasts are supposed to be fuller and heavier, my body is supposed to be fatigued, and I am supposed to be going a little slower. I think there’s the potential to find a lot of harmony during this time, if I honor what this experience is and fight through my anxieties about what it will mean for the temporal form of my body. It’s extremely unlikely that I’ll gain back 90 pounds–although Josh jokes that if we find out this week we’re having twins, all bets are off–and even if I DO gain back EVERY SINGLE POUND I have the framework and the knowledge to work my way back.

The loveliest thing that the partner of an anxious pregnant woman can say, by the way, is that they had a day-dream in which they were watching the baby while you got a chance to work out. I wouldn’t say that to any lady who hasn’t expressly explained her post-pregnancy weight loss regime though. We pregnant people have the hormonal strength of, like, bears. When those hormones rush through me, I could punch a dolphin.

I’m hoping this is nine-ish months of learning to love my body as the full miraculous piece of divinity I think it might actually be. I feel full and lovely and strong and my skin looks AMAZING. I’m off my anti-anxiety meds, with the world’s best psychiatrist a phone call away, and I am learning a whole bunch about full, holistic living. Also, I am crying. A LOT. I was just watching SNL and Christina Applegate introduced Passion Pit and the way she looked so proud of them got me weepy. That part is maybe the least fun.

So, stay tuned! I hit the midwife this week for the first appointment, and I’m hoping we spend some time talking about diet and exercise and health. I’ve been scoping out cute maternity wear—there really IS some, I’m happy to report. I’m looking forward to designing a nursery and making Josh do all the work. I’m excited to get to a point where I’m clearly pregnant because my students have been asking me if I’m having kids since we first met. If things go according to plan, I’ll have a baby in late May and have the whole summer off for bonding. I don’t count as much of a mom yet but jeez if I don’t already love the experience a lot. Sometimes Josh comes home and says hey to us both individually and I feel like my heart might explode.

Here’s the first picture I’ve taken since I found out. I was off that night for a haunted DC walking tour, and since I get cold pretty easily, I layered up. My friend Kelly swore I’m glow-y already, but I think it was really just a combination of Friday afternoon relief and ghostly excitement. I love Halloween.

That is a University of Maryland beanie, a Fossil scarf, my cute warm new sweatshirt material jacket, Sweetheart cut old navy denim, and my new Adidas runners. Those runners get me so many compliments, and they really are just a great pair of shoes.

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43 thoughts on “How to: Love yourself pregnant

  1. Congratulations! I happened upon your blog from Already Pretty and as I am also pregnant I thought I would tell you a little about my experience so far at least as far as it relates to exercise. The first trimester was definitely exhausting. I was trying to keep up with biking to work a few days a week and some weeks I could only manage to convince myself to bike once, and I was biking slower pretty much from day one. But it still kept my body and muscles moving enough that they didn’t forget how to move. Around weeks 14-16 my energy level returned to about 80-90% of normal (instead of feeling like I was operating on 4 hours of sleep after getting 9, as I did in the first trimester). So take heart, you just have to make it through the first trimester and then it will be at least a little easier to keep exercising. I kept biking until about 24 weeks and then switched to lap swimming 30 minutes twice a week which feels awesome. I can’t push as hard – the key is to find the right new, slower, pace that you can maintain since your heart is already working harder pumping all that extra blood – but those few times a week I do manage to get to the gym I feel SO good afterwards. And I think it the exercise is helping balance the weight gain and appetite issues too because even though I feel like I’m eating a LOT, I am pretty much on target for the recommended weight gain.

    I also found a good motivator was to tell myself that if I keep exercising then labor will be easier and shorter. It seems like most of the women I know who had shorter labors were much more active during their pregnancies and those who had really long labors were less active. Of course, that is completely anecdotal; I’m sure there are many women out there whose experience is different. But when I think about it that way it helps motivate me to exercise which is a good thing!

    I don’t have a past weight loss experience like yours, so I don’t have any words of wisdom there, except to say focus on what your body needs and wants – healthy whole foods, protein, the right amount of movement, and lots of rest.

    And again, congratulations!

  2. Congrats! I am not 4 months pregnant and can relate to everything you are saying! The best thing to do is be as active as you were before, if you were not active then just keep walking daily. We only need about 300 extra calories during our 2nd trimester and a little more in the third so it is not much. (although we wish it was more!! ) As long as we keep eating and try and be as acitve as we can then we can keep weight gain at a normal rate and if we gain the normal amount then it will be much easier to get it off afterwards.

    I have learned also to wear clothes you like! I bought some amazing maternity clothese and they make me feel so nice! I dont like getting big and its hard to see my body changing but if i like what i am wearing then I think “I can rock this pregnancy!”. Keep up the good work and if you want any more nutrition or fitness tips dont be afraid to ask!! Congrats again!!!

  3. Congrats on FP AND PG!

    The tired goes away, then comes back toward the end. The middle trimester was the easiest for me. And forget about losing weight while pregnant. Regardless of the amount you gain (or don’t gain), your body will never be the same and will change in interesting places. I packed on 70lbs my first time around, and afterward my fingers got so skinny that I had to have my wedding and engagement rings resized. How’s that for weird? Liberate yourself from the need to control. Because you can’t.

    Fast forward two more kids, and my body is back to how it was in college. In the good way. Good luck!

  4. Congrats to you and your husband!! Pregnancy is an exciting journey; one that I envy you for :-). My kids are transitioning into teenagers, and amazingly I still miss the days of pregnancy. Experiencing the miracle of life as that little one is growing inside of you is just pretty darned cool, and if I could go back and do it over and over again I would, truly! Do what works for you, and enjoy your pregnancy! And congrats on being Freshly Pressed!!!

  5. Congratulations on joining The Firm. I’m a grandma now, but I still remember that the best part of my two pregnancies where when the my babies started to move around and to kick. It’s the most wonderful experience in the world. The second is what I call The Moon Walk. It’s trying to adjust your walk to a lighter you after you’ve delivered yourself of several ;pounds of child. The rest takes time. Don’t worry about the weight thing now. In the meantime there’s nothing to stop you from going for long walks, is there?

  6. Being pregnant was wonderful for the reason that I loved my body. It was the one time in my life that I didn’t feel heavy, my belly was supposed to be big! Once I got to where I was fitting in the pregnancy clothes and people can actually tell I was pregnant, I felt beautiful. Hubby loved the round belly. It was one time where I didn’t have to feel self conscious. That is a wonderful feeling. Of course once baby was here, that changed, but I enjoyed it while it was there.

  7. Congratulations! I have no idea how I found your blog, but I like this post a lot. My sister is going through the same thing (also due in May) and so I see some of how hard it is to accept the fact that you won’t be losing the last of the weight that you want gone. But next year will be here soon enough and you’ll have your awesome baby too.

  8. Congratulations! I guarantee the weight will fall off when you are falling in love with your baby. Mine are 24 and 18 and I remember feeling as you do, what about after? After is such an intense love affair you forget life as you knew it. When you finally come to your senses, you are a shadow of who you thought you were. Enjoy the time, take naps when you can and watch the miracle of your body creating a new person. Can’t wait to hear how lovely this tale turns out!

  9. Congrats!!! Man, so much of what you’ve said rings true for me, too. I’m a teacher, I’ve struggled with weight, have done (and am currently doing) WW…only difference is that I now have a 4 month old instead of being pregnant!

    I struggled a lot with weight issues when I found out I was pregnant. I don’t know how, after losing allllll that weight and working so hard for every pound, you can NOT stress when faced with gaining a bunch of it back. I would up gaining about 20 lbs OVER where I was when I started WW….but I’m now 5 lbs away from where I was pre pregnancy, and my “before” clothes all fit (even if they are a bit different!).

    Here’s the thing: you’re growing a human. And this is a time to be in awe of what your body can do, not stress about every pound. If you’re eating relatively healthy (c’mon, who would deny a pregnant woman ice cream?) and remaining somewhat active (but DON’T push yourself), the weight WILL come off.

    In the meantime – get some awesomely cute maternity clothing & rock your body with pride.

    Congrats again!!!

  10. Congratulations! I found your blog in “freshly pressed” and am excited to follow your journey. I’m 26 weeks pregnant now and loving every second. I, too, have been a bit worried about weight gain, but in the end of it all, if little peanut is safe and healthy, that’s what truly matters. I can lose the excess weight, even if it’s hard work. And you can too, like you said. Be kind to you and enjoy this short time in life. It flies by!

  11. Congratulations and welcome to the wonderful world of parenting. Pregnancy and then having your baby is a mind boggling, wonderful journey that, I think, makes you a better person :-). Your body changes forever, but your life is forever richer! Enjoy!
    Fx

  12. Congrats on your pregnancy…and I would say that you are definitely glowing! Enjoy the wonders and miracles of the new life that is growing inside you. Each person’s pregnancy is different, embrace yours for what it is. Listen to your body’s needs regarding food, sleep and exercise. What you are doing sounds great, just don’t overexert trying to maintain a level that may have been right for you before the pregnancy. I also had a midwife and went with a home birth. I was fortunate to have a physically active job that I could take breaks from and nap, if I needed it. I worked up until the day before the birth, cause I felt like it. That might not work for others. It’s okay to be unique…do what works for you. And quit stressing about the weight…whether you gain or not, the stress is not good for you or the baby.

    A pregnancy journal with pics is a good way to channel the anxiety. And even if you aren’t crazy about it now….you will love it twenty years from now and so will your children. You will be surprised with how much admiration you will attract once you start showing.

  13. Hello fellow pregnant lady from across the Chesapeake Bay. Stumbled upon you and heard you loud and clear. I had just lost almost ten pounds after about five years of trying. And it took me a little getting used to the idea to let go of my exercise expectations. Suspended my gym membership for the concept of walks. And figured it was my one time reprieve and excuse to eat happily without the hawk on my shoulder. If only I could find pants that weren’t so easy to be pants-ed in. As for the fat perception thing, I have a funny post on other people’s rudeness.
    http://shalavee.com/no-im-not-pregnant-with-twins/ SO happy for your sharing your honesty. I find I can only do the same.
    Love,
    Shalagh

  14. Congratulations! It’s interesting for me to read about exercise during pregnancy, as i never was much of an exerciser until I was four months gone! Then I did prenatal aquarobics, which were really fun, right up to when I went into labour. That’s the only exercise I did, although I was living in a house with lots of stairs… If you’re worried about weight gain, don’t. Eating for two does not mean eating twice as much, but twice as well: cravings are to tell you when you aren’t. I had a huge craving for meat, and that let me know I needed iron (very dark chocolate is better than spinach!) What I really wanted to say was that when I was about 6 months pregnant, I felt more feminine than I ever had before. I used to sit cross legged on my yoga mat and feel like an ancient fertility goddess – baby brain is sort of cancelled out by that divine wisdom that comes with growing a human! Good luck to you and your bump!

  15. I was pointed to your blog entry by a friend of mine 🙂
    I’ll be having my third (and I hasten to add) final child in mid May, so I’m a little bit ahead of you time wise 🙂

    Congratulations and good luck! Sod the diet! If you want it, eat it, just in moderation. The walking helps, but don’t go too fast: You’ll find that the bump complains bitterly! Trust me 😀

    Listen to the midwives for the diet.. I don’t quite know where you’re based, but you’ll be warned off things like excessive amounts of tuna and prawns / shrimps, as they’re high in mercury and the crap from the ocean (which, frankly, you don’t want to pass onto the little one) and next to no alcohol, if any at all. Here in the UK, it’s recommended you don’t drink, but every so often, I do partake in a glass of wine… which is my choice, but I don’t have more than one. Also, everything must be cooked, no half cooked, sunny side up eggs, no medium rare steaks… It gets to be a chore, checking for these things, but it’s only for 14 months or so…. If you’re breast feeding, the same rules apply whilst feeding them.

    I’d be careful with the type of yoga you’re doing though! I couldn’t carry on doing the martial arts I was doing with any of my 3 pregnancies, the babes & my body complained too much, so listen to your body is the best thing I can suggest 🙂

    And I’m guessing if you’re due in May, you’re still in the first trimester, which means, your placenta is still being built, so your body will be tired as it’s keeping you going, feeding baby and building that very important filter. Rest if you need to 🙂

  16. Such an amazing topic that every female can relate to. I really want kids, but just the thought of having them makes me feel thrilled, terrified, anxious and sad all at once. Looking forward to following your journey. Best of luck, I’m sure it will be more than worth it!

  17. Congratulations and best of luck to a happy and problem free pregnancy. I have two kids and each pregnancy is different. A good book to read is What to Expect When Your Expecting”. The first and third trimester tend to be the most difficult (but for different reasons).

  18. Thank you for writing this. I bet you had no idea how many women can relate and do relate. I personally am 13 weeks pregnant. I have not gained any weight yet, but my weight has been redistributed and my belly is popping out. I can’t suck it in and not much I own fits. I have spent every day in the swimming pool because even though being in my suit is just not pretty, the water feels really good on my belly.
    I too haven’t worked out in 12 weeks…and that is nuts. I have become lazy and so hungry always…but if I eat too much I feel gross…so I graze.
    Grr.. this is my first too, I refuse to complain or talk too much about it and I just want to go with it and enjoy it, but it is hard…
    I look forward to your posts and lets work together to just enjoy all that is to come!

  19. I was surprised by how much pregnancy and breastfeeding my babies improved my body image. Suddenly I was thinking about the amazing things my body was doing not just what I looked like! I still look at my kids and marvel that they grew inside me. Enjoy the miracle as much as you can. X

  20. Congratulations (both on your pregnancy and being Freshly Pressed)!!! Good luck with your pregnancy, I am now following you so I’ll be able to keep up with your updates. I think as long as you lead a healthy lifestyle, consume nutritious foods and stay active, you should be okay during your pregnancy.

  21. Congrats on Freshly Pressed and great post! “We pregnant people have the hormonal strength of, like, bears. When those hormones rush through me, I could punch a dolphin.” Oh man, I totally miss those dolphin punching days. Totally unfair how we lose them right when the kiddo becomes mobile!

  22. ~ There’s still something sexy about pregnant women. Have you noticed their smiles? Just look at the smile you have got on your face. More glowing, right? The baby is also smiling when you smiled, I guess! Congrats! (-;

  23. Hey congratulations! Its too bad that this recommendation is in french, but its SO good that it would be worth Google translating to read. http://marianneprairie.com/maman/
    She’s an awesome French Montrealer who has been writing about her pregnancies since 2007. She has a wonderful story, and is now at 37 weeks with her 2nd child. She writes beatifully, and talks truth about so many things on pregant/and non pregnant women’s minds. Let me know what you think, cheers!

  24. Congratulations! I’m writing to you farther ahead, as I’m 36 and a HALF weeks today. Enjoy the crap out of the first two trimesters, and just be aware that the third one is hard. Body hard. It’s getting harder and harder to look at myself every day and NOT get upset. I’m not worried about the future – I KNOW that my body will get better, but it IS hard to watch it. I mean, the belly part is great, because we all know that’s a baby. But there are arms and thighs and butts that don’t look right.
    But that could just be my own craziness. I obviously wish you an AMAZING pregnancy of loving yourself and enjoying the glow and every glorious moment. I’ll be following you to read along!

  25. Congratulations, what a wonderful rollercoaster of an experience. Take it easy and don’t be too tough on yourself – I’m still being tough on myself and my daughter has just turned one! Looking forward to following your journey.

  26. Congrats on your pregnancy! I am 21 weeks into my first pregnancy, and I think I can identify with everything that you have said here…the tiredness, the scary aspect of gaining, how should I work out, etc! I will have to keep reading along! I haven’t modified my workouts just too much, but I was also doing them for quite some time prior to becoming pregnant, and after talking with my own midwife, I’ve decided to just listen to my body and stop what it tells me to stop, and keep on with things that still feel great!

    Totally looking forward to following your journey!

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