I wrote this article for a magazine, which never ended up publishing, so I’m going to share it as is, here:
“I think I’m really going to miss being pregnant.” I said this to my husband, as I was lathering another layer of Tummy Rub Oil onto my expanding belly.
This has been quite the revelation to me.
I’m pregnant with my first baby and while I have always focused on my career, I’ve always wanted to be a Mom too. I never really thought about the reality of what pregnancy would be or feel like. You hear of the symptoms – sore boobs, stretch marks, aches, pains, swelling… none of it sounding all that exciting, but you also can’t know what it will truly be like until you’re in it and of course, the outcome is all so worth it.
I’ve seen friends of mine become Mom’s and I’ve loved listening to their experiences. It still boggles my mind how everyone has such unique stories, considering there are generally only 2 ways to bring a child into this world.
The one thing I heard often was: “I feel like such a whale!” and “I feel huge!” and “I’m so fat!”
I think it’s because most of us woman have some hang ups about our bodies and don’t always have the best body image confidence. As the hormones surge and our bodies change, we also have to endure ridiculous comments like: “Oh wow, are you sure you’re not having twins? Sure your doctor didn’t miss one?” and “How far are you? Oh really? Is that all? Gosh, you’re huuuuge.”
No woman (pregnant or not) wants to hear that they look huge. Fact.
However, I’ve always thought pregnant women look incredibly beautiful. They never look “fat”, no matter their body shape.
I get it. I understand the feeling now of going through changes, wanting to be healthy for the sake of you and baby, but having ridiculous cravings that feel bigger than any willpower you might possess. You feel the pressure of looking good, thanks to Social Media, whilst expanding in your hips, ribs, tummy area, ankles, face etc. You’re painfully and acutely aware of your body now – more so than ever before, and even though you know the reason is only a good one, you really don’t need anyone else to tell you how big you’re looking. It’s just the cherry on top for making you feel even more self conscious than you already feel.
I realize that worrying about looking fat when pregnant is simply superficial and inconsequential, because honestly, the most important thing is growing a healthy baby – clichéd; yes.
With that being said, as a woman, it’s very import to feel good and confident. When we look good, we feel good and vice versa.
The most surprising thing I’ve discovered in my pregnancy journey and I am quite shocked as I type the next sentence:
Pregnancy has created a positive body image for me.
It’s one of the biggest revelations I’ve had in a long time. Honestly, I haven’t always been kind to my body, but this experience has me in awe of it.
My biggest body insecurity has always been my tummy area, so going through a pregnancy where your tummy is going to be focused on, was quite daunting for me.
In my first Trimester, besides feeling nauseous and not being able to keep my eyes open past 8pm, it was the bloat. I didn’t exactly look pregnant yet, but I was acutely aware of suddenly looking podgy – like I was having a really good Festive season. It’s also hard because you’re trying to hide the good news until the safety mark of 12 weeks.
I started taking those belly shots from 7 weeks and perhaps it was partly the hormones to blame, but I had a sob looking at my bloated tummy shot and cried: “Look at that! I’m already fat. If that’s what I look like now, I’m going to be a house!”
My poor husband kept telling me that I looked beautiful (even with my smeared mascara), that I was doing a great job in creating our little person and that I look exactly the way I should in each stage of my pregnancy. He is a keeper.
The irony is that as my bump has grown, I’ve only fallen in love with it more and more. I look back at photos from week 7 and can’t believe how little I looked and chuckle at the memory of my ridiculous sob. In fact, that photo is “goals” for getting my body back after baby. Go figure!
I look back at photos of myself from a year ago, when I thought I was “still too fat” or “still have 3kgs to lose” and I can’t believe I didn’t appreciate where my body was at, which was strong and healthy and perfectly imperfect.
Today, I love my big tummy and I don’t think I’ve ever said that before. I love that I can even say that proudly.
I love that I don’t have to suck it in. Ha! It has been the best to just let it go and not worry about holding it all in. I am going to miss that so much, but I’m also not going to allow myself to get down about it being a little saggy and changed, either.
I love that it’s rock hard, protecting my baby boy as he grows and grows. I love that my tummy holds my most precious gift and that for 9 months; it’s just him and me together, before I get to share him with the world. Each kick, roll and flutter is for me and me alone and it’s so special.
So while some peoples comments can be insensitive and disheartening, like the ones I mentioned earlier, I just shrug them off. They don’t affect me all that much, they’re more irritating, like swatting a fly away. By now, I’ve realized people just don’t know what to say or are completely oblivious how their comment sounds. Most people don’t mean for the comments to come from a bad place, so just smile and crack a joke that maybe its triplets.
I’m also aware that everyone shows differently. I’ve had women send me messages to say that they feel self-conscious and upset, as they don’t look big, they’re not showing yet and have people commenting, asking if the baby is OK? Or “Are you sure you’re even pregnant?” “Are you eating enough? It’s not good to diet and starve the baby”, which only creates new insecurities and worries of wondering if they’re doing something wrong.
Like I said, some people have no filter. Deep breaths.
Listen up ladies, everyone carries differently and it also depends on where your Uterus lies. I happen to have a Uterus that is more forward, plus I have a 7cm Fibroid pushing it out even further. You could have a Uterus that lies further back and so you’re not showing as much. If your doctor is happy, that’s all that should matter.
You are carrying exactly the way you should be.
Marvel in the fact that your body is not only performing your own bodily functions, but you’re making a person! You’re creating every little cell that miraculously
knows how to form into skin, nails, hair, organs… Week by week, you’re growing a human that will become a person who will laugh, dream and not only be a part of the world, but be a part of your world. It’s a miracle.
Give yourself a break and appreciate this incredible privilege you’ve been given to create and carry life. Be kind to yourself and give your big or small belly a rub and know you’re doing your best!
– Bailey Schneider (Georgiades)
PS. Please feel free to share this with any of your preggy friends xxx