Blog · Health · Mama Style · Pregnancy

Let’s chat body image

Even though I’ve been through this once before, almost 5 years ago, I must say when my jeans started to feel tighter, when my ribs felt like they’d expanded overnight, when my bottom suddenly looked twice as large and my boobs actually looked like they existed,  to be absolutely honest I started to freak!  I had gone back on meds as my hyperthyriodism had flared up again and I thought I was putting on weight because of the meds … I had no idea what was really happening to my body.

I was chatting to a friend the other day who is also pregnant with her second.  She was quite excited by where I’ve been shopping for maternity clothing and how I felt about my preggo bod.  I have to admit I felt a bit like I had to pretty up my feelings before they spilled out of my mouth.  What goes through my head isn’t always what comes out of my mouth quite unfortunately.  I complained about how hard it was getting used to the preggo bod and working out what to wear everyday other than active wear which was about the only comfortable thing I could contemplate in the first trimester.  For someone who really loves fashion and dressing up, it really was frustrating to be experiencing wardrobe malfunctions all the time!  Usually, if I was to say this to anyone else, they would have gone, “oh hunny but you’re carrying a baby inside of you! It’s such a special and fabulous thing!”  Most of the time I feel like hitting back with, “I friggin’ know that!  I’m  just struggling with how I look at the moment with all my enlarged bits and I haven’t yet worked it all out in my head yet and that is all!”

My thighs have doubled in size and I stopped fitting into my pre-preggo jeans and pants from about 6 weeks!  My calves have done the same thing and I could not for the life of me do my fav boots up!  My arms look like trunks and all of a sudden I don’t look at all good in sleeveless tops (thank god it’s winter now).  My breasts have gone a bit larger, and whilst I lamented about not having boobs in the past, I now don’t know what to do with having cleavage!  I feel a little exposed in a way.  My ribs literally expanded overnight from the time I was about 4 weeks pregnant (unbeknownst to me) and everything felt too small!  This girlfriend of mine went through her very similar woes and said something which stuck with me and hence inspired this very post, “women should be more comfortable talking about things like that honestly!  Makes me feel so much better just being able to talk to someone and not feel judged!”

Sure some women don’t let things like that bother them and good on them! However some of us do feel this way and wonder if we still look good, if our bodies will bounce back post pregnancy for a whole variety of reasons: something as shallow as fitting into our favourite dresses again to more profound issues such as self confidence, self worth, relationship & intimacy, all of which are self-compounding and interelated.  All of these on top of having a new baby and all the usual and/or less usual challenges.

So I knocked on dear old Dr Google’s door (god forbid):
“Why do my thighs and arms go bigger during pregnancy?”
“Is it normal for my ribs to expand during pregnancy?”
“Why does my face swell up during pregnancy?”

“Is it normal that I don’t fit into my jeans at 6 weeks”
“Why has my body changed so much quicker in my second pregnancy?!”

Common words: “Why? Why? Why?”, “What’s Normal?”… And the answers to the above questions exist in the form of threads… pages long threads.

I’m quite a logical person most of the time but I reckon these questions persisted in various forms for the entire first trimester of my pregnancy, and more so than what I’d experienced during my first pregnancy.  I blame it on social media, a little … everyone just looks so darn good on there all the time and regardless of how I work those angles (which I really am not very good at doing), nothing looked good on me.

So what helped?  2 things:  Our intelligent bodies and honest chit chats over cuppas.

Our intelligent bodies

I have always trusted my body and how clever it is.  I believe that my body is designed to know what to do in different circumstances.  To abbreviate what I’ve read, apparently our smart little bodies have learnt during our first pregnancies that they need to do a whole bunch of things to accomodate the growth of our precious little buns, over a period of 9 months the first time around.   Second time around however, our body essentially speeds it all up as it already remembers and knows what to do! Well and the sheer facts around our less efficient muscles cannot be denied, especially if you’ve already had one little bub already.  For example, swelling and water retention is such a normal part of pregnancy as the extra fluid is needed to soften the body, which enables it to expand as the baby grows.  Whilst it took months for the body to retain that necessary fluid during my first pregnancy, the body has done it a lot quicker in my second pregnancy as it now knows what to do (at 6 weeks instead of the 9th month)!

Honest chit chats

We live in a society and an era where women expect so much of themselves, and after a few generations of struggle for equality, I think now that we’re almost there, we find it difficult to then express the challenges we do face in our lives as that’s a sign of weakness.  However as women, we share so much in common, our strengths, our struggles, our womanly experiences from PMS woes (which I shared in my previous post) to common and uncommon experiences during pregnancy.  The more we share with each other, the more we encourage normality in all that is happening in our bodies and our minds.  There is nothing like opening up to a another woman, over many cuppas, and chat about stuff without feeling like we’ve got horns poking out of our skulls … what our cha chas look like after giving birth (eeeeiuuulllkk), how to better involve our husbands so they feel like they’re a part of growing our babies, struggles with the way we look, where to get hot maternity gear that doesn’t cost a fortune, sex during pregnancy etc etc.

Trust your bodies and your wonderful motherly instincts.  Enjoy your pregnancies and even embrace those niggly thoughts at the back of your minds.  Chat about things openly.  It doesn’t mean we love our unborn babies less or love ourselves way too much.  Women need to support women in talking openly about how we feel.  It is as simple as that.

I am loving my preggo bod now and I can’t imagine not having this bump in front of me when bub comes.  I’m loving all the kicks, tumble turns (which are getting less frequent as bubs grows), the little taps and when her little bum (I’m guessing) lodges itself up against my tummy.   I’m loving being pregnant even though my back is giving way, haha.

I still have those niggly thoughts but they just niggle now and I’m fine with that.

Let’s chat.

xox, Liz

PS:  I sincerely hope I’ll  fit into my beautiful leather and tulle dress again after bubs comes along!

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