I was half asleep, tugging on my black leggings, hooking up my bra, then throwing the multicolored tunic over my head. As the fabric settled around my chest, waist and hips I noticed something seemed off. I looked down and there it was: the top half of my belly, that had finally started to shrink thanks to eating better and working out a few times a week. Well, it was back.
But it was different, too. Wider. Fuller. Just not my normal belly.
It’s hard to put into words how my body has changed since I became pregnant because I haven’t gained any weight yet. Because I am plus-size, my doctor wants me to gain less than a woman with a lower BMI — and I get that. I want that, too. It’s been tough to eat really well or exercise as much as I want to, with the nausea and fatigue during the first trimester. But I want to have the healthiest pregnancy I possibly can.
So when I first started noticing my body changing, spreading, feeling different, I immediately hopped on the scale. Nope. Same weight as before.
I almost felt ashamed that hopping on the scale was my first instinct. Because while I don’t want to gain too much weight, I also don’t agree with the societal pressures put on pregnant women to look a certain way. There are actual pins on Pinterest dedicated to showing women how to only have a baby belly and not gain any weight anywhere else.
Look, I get that people get nervous about losing their figures when pregnant. They worry about gaining too much weight, about getting it off after the baby arrives. I get that to a certain extent. But I also wish women wouldn’t put so much pressure on themselves. I think it’s possible to have a healthy pregnancy, to monitor weight gain, eat healthfully and exercise, without beating ourselves up and making ourselves feel bad about our bodies during this process.
When my weight does go up, it will be OK. As long as it doesn’t go up too much, too fast, I’m OK with it. I read somewhere that between the baby, your placenta, the extra blood I’m creating, and the weight of your breasts, weight gain is going to happen. It’s supposed to happen.
What’s hard for women like me, who are already plus-size, is a lot of these changes go on unnoticed by anyone but myself. I probably won’t show until much, much later in my pregnancy. I will most likely look unchanged to most people for quite a while — or I’ll just look like I’ve gained weight.
But seemingly overnight, as it did in the case above, my body has changed. It is changing. Instead of being too worried or too down on myself about my belly shifting and getting a little poofier, though, I am trying to focus on the amazing task my body is undergoing right now. It’s creating a human. A baby is growing inside of me.
So I’m also going to show myself some grace when it comes to my body image. For the next six months, and even the time after the baby arrives, I want to treat my body as healthfully as possible. But I also want to push down any negative feelings or talk inside my head that makes me feel badly about my changing body, about the inevitable weight gain that will come.
I wish other women would show themselves grace, too, and not let the changes their body goes through during pregnancy create negative feelings toward their bodies.
I am truly blessed to have this opportunity to have a child. I’m not going to let negative feelings about my body cloud that happiness.