There is no doubt that your body goes through lots of changes during pregnancy, some more obvious than others. Some ladies lap up every moment of it. For others (like myself) it is a bit more a challenge to learn how to accept and enjoy your changing pregnant body.
I was far from glowing
It is safe to say the first few months of pregnancy really shocked me. Whilst I had anticipated and even looked forward to that first sign of a growing bump, I hadn’t expected some of the other ways my pregnant body would change first. Morning sickness and fatigued wiped me out in the first trimester, any efforts at a balanced diet were out the window. Exercises is usually my first strategy for dealing with any emotional problem, but I simply didn’t have the energy to spare, leaving me even more fed up and frustrated.
By 15 weeks, most of my clothes had been resigned to the loft, in the hope they would fit at some point post pregnancy. My wardrobe now consisted of a handful of floaty dresses and old baggy sweaters. I was just about managing to squeeze myself in to my largest pairs of lycra leggings for work, but they were becoming more and more uncomfortable by the day.
I felt like a stranger in my own body. I was swollen, achy, bloated with recurring headaches and weird gas. As I slumped in to my second trimester I started getting my appetite back. This gave me some energy to start exercising again, but I found my usual workouts felt almost impossible, adding to my sense of failure and defeat.
I despaired, like I was somehow failing at pregnancy. Everyone talks about that wonderful pregnancy glow, but I felt far from radiating. I was starting to dread another 6 months of this, knowing it would only get worse. Then I remembered I was due to see the midwife. God knows what joyous news she would have for me; I wasn’t exactly winning at pregnancy.
Reassessing my priorities
I went to my 16 week check-up fully anticipating some sort of lecture on gestational diabetes, or gaining too much weight. But nope, all good: as far as the midwife was concerned I was doing great. Everything I was experiencing was normal. I was kind of shocked, but definitely reassured. I asked if she was going to check baby’s heart-beat. I wanted that extra bit of reassurance that Hoglet* was OK. My midwife is lovely, she said; it wasn’t routine at 16 weeks as it can be hard to find babies heartbeat on a Doppler, but if it would help alleviate some of my worry then she would have a go. She quickly found babies heart-beat, I think it’s the best noise I have ever heard. Not only was I doing fine, so was the Hoglet. Maybe I wasn’t failing at pregnancy after all.
As I walked out of the midwifes office I realised I had been looking at it the wrong way. It really didn’t matter how my body looked, what was important was what it was doing. I realised I wasn’t failing at pregnancy, my clever body was doing everything it needed to just fine. All I had to do was appreciate it a bit more. I am so grateful for the opportunity to be able to conceive and carry my own baby, something I know lots of women dream of. How my body looked or even felt wasn’t the focus anymore, as long as it could grow that baby and get it out safe.
Once you stop focusing on things you don’t like about your body and focus on what it can do, you can’t help but appreciate it, and even like it a bit more. So I took a long hard look in the mirror, and reassessed my changing body. Sure it was bigger and softer than normal, but it was beautiful in a different way. Nothing could possibly be more womanly than being pregnant, an experience purely reserved for the female species. This body was different, but it wasn’t bad, I just needed to give it a bit more respect.
My first step in respecting my pregnant body a bit more was to take the pressure off myself with work and other commitments, and make myself more of a priority. I had been trying to ‘carry on as normal’, and whilst that felt noble, it wasn’t really what was best for me or Hoglet. Instead I tried getting to bed early, and napped if I needed to during the day. I cut back on any non-essential commitments and simply gave my body more rest.
The next step was rethink my exercise routine. Maybe I could no longer keep up to my previous workouts, but my body was kind of busy doing something way more awesome. So I restructured my entire workout routine, forgetting what I had done in the past and creating a plan to support my body in its new job of growing a baby, pushing it out, and then life beyond that. It wasn’t what I was used to, but I had new goals and it’s always exciting having something to work towards.
Next up was to stop squeezing into clothes that didn’t fit and making myself feel incredibly uncomfortable in the process. I asked around my mum friends if they had any maternity clothes to loan me. It seems maternity wardrobes are often well traveled. I acquired a few cute maternity dresses, and a pair of over the bump jeans. Despite not having any real sign of bump, I was amazed how much comfier they were. I treated myself to some maternity bra’s which were far less frumpy than I had dreaded, and a million times more flattering. A few weeks later I took advantage of a flash sale in GAP to stock up on maternity active wear. Finally I had some choice in my wardrobe, and wasn’t feeling pinched and squeezed.
It seemed that once I invested in maternity clothes, the Hoglet had some room to breathe and stretch, as somewhere around 18 weeks a bump just popped out, seemingly overnight. Though we hadn’t announced the pregnancy in any public way, most of our family and close friends knew by this stage. I could share the ups and downs and I was reassured that everything I had been feeling was normal. People talk about the golden second trimester and for the first time, I was starting to believe it. I was finally enjoying pregnancy and even my changing body.
We are still just 21 weeks, so I know there is plenty yet to come, but for now I am really enjoying pregnancy and my changing body. I maybe even feel a bit glowing!
Jennie & Hoglet x
Did you always love your pregnant body? Or were you like me, and it took a bit more getting used to? I would love to hear your advice and experiences, add them to the comments below, or find me on all the socials.
*Hoglet is the nickname we have somehow ended up giving to baby! I fear that we have got so used to it, this could end up babys actual name! I love the nicknames people have for baby pre-birth, definitely get in touch and let me know yours!
I am Jennie, a freelance Fitness Writer and Personal Trainer, passionate about making fitness fun and accessible to everyone. I am qualified in pre and post natal exercise, and now experiencing it first hand as I am expecting my first child in February 2020. I currently live in the beautiful Yorkshire countryside with my partner and our 3 ginger cats. I love hearing from other mums so look me up on all the socials. Find me on facebook, or Instagram @setUfreefitness