Finding Peace With Pregnancy Weight Gain

When I was about 37 weeks pregnant with my first baby, I was helping my husband shop for clothes and I caught my reflection in one of those three sided dressing room mirrors at a department store - I stopped and did a double take, and absolutely gasped at what I saw. Of course I have mirrors at home, and I swear I do look in them, but apparently the combination of florescent lights and seeing halfway around each side of my belly made me look like a completely different woman. And I have to be honest, the rest of the day, I was completely depressed. I know that I didn't look any different than I had that morning when I looked in the mirror in my own home, but I felt completely different. Unhappy. Large. Sad. Depressed. Scared that I'd never return to normal. Confused as to how I got like this without noticing. Terrified of what I told myself other people probably thought about me.

In truth, I wanted to eat away my feelings - I was pregnant and I'm a woman - hellllllo. And I probably did; I actually can't remember. But I do remember going to bed that night feeling pretty terrible about myself.

It's no secret that pregnancy and weight gain go hand in hand. And as I shared yesterday - it's often one of the hardest parts for women. Particularly because there are near weekly weigh-ins at the doctor's office, weight-gain charts tracking every pound up or down, articles and books detailing complications if too much weight is gained, and of course, the media glorifying celebrities that are "all baby," and are back to their pre-baby wardrobe two weeks after their baby arrives.

And we're always told we need to be okay with weight gain, because it's for the baby, yet at the same time, we can't gain too much weight, because - the baby. Duh. It's such a fine balance and it can feel like you're walking on eggshells, not just with your doctor and their stupid weight chart, but also with your heart and emotions. So here are are some things I've learned over the course of two pregnancies to find peace with my changing body and in particular - the weight gain.
  • Don't weigh yourself. It's so hard, I know. I think we do it out of equal parts curiosity and thinking if we just know how much we've gained, we can hold ourselves accountable for the future. But really all it serves to (usually) do is bum us out and make us frustrated. Most weeks you'll gain weight, some you may even lose weight, but those highs and lows aren't worth it, because you can't stop the train, even with your best efforts - you are going to gain weight. I've heard about some midwives that don't even weigh their patients throughout the entire pregnancy - and I think that's awesome! My midwife does, but for the most part, I choose to look away and not look at the number each week. I figure she'll tell me if something's wrong and I've found that even on my "good weeks" I still tend to gain about the same as what I would consider my "bad weeks" which means my body is doing what it needs to do to care for this baby. 
  • Eat when you're hungry and make the best choices you can. For me, my self-control nearly goes out the window the moment I get pregnant. I really struggle to not give into cravings (aka: All the carbs ever in existence.) and while I don't believe pregnancy is an excuse to eat anything and everything, I also don't think you should totally deprive yourself. I mean, you are pregnant - you deserve some treats! Eat when you're hungry and make the best choices you can at the time. You know what food is good for you and what isn't, try as much as possible to make right choices. But sometimes, you just need your sweets or junk food and that's okay - remember my 80/20 rule? Anything is okay in moderation. When I'm pregnant, it's honestly more like 60/40, but I still try for 80/20 - some days I make it sometimes I don't, and I'm okay with that!
  • Buy clothing that fits. Nothing will make you feel more terrible than feeling like a stuffed sausage in your jeans and t-shirts. As hard as it can be, purchase clothing in a large enough size that is not only flattering on you, but makes you feel comfortable! Like me finally giving in and buying underwear the next size up - I couldn't believe how much more comfortable I was, and I wasn't constantly thinking about how I felt like I was nearly exploding out of my clothes because I was so large, in fact, I actually felt skinnier! Heck, I even ended up needing to purchase a second pair of larger maternity jeans because I was nearly suffocating in the first ones I bought by 27 weeks. I know it can be hard to spend a lot of money on maternity clothing, because it's worn for such a short period of time, but this tip, more than all my other tips is the one that seems to help me feel the most comfortable and not think about my changing weight so much. 
  • Remember that it's temporary. Your big butt won't last forever. And likely, people don't even notice it next to your even bigger belly. Remember that pregnancy is nine months out of a lifetime. Just like you're changing a lot during these months, you'll change a lot after baby too. While a pregnancy can feel like such a long time, it's really just a blip in the radar. 
  • Don't compare yourself to others, trust your body to do what's best. Comparison always has and always will be a thief. There is no standard for how you should grow, or how much to gain and when. Every pregnancy is different and it's not fair to yourself or anyone else to compare your body with someone else's. Trust that your body is doing what's best for baby and growing how it should. Sometimes I find myself getting envious of friends who crave vegetables (Sorry, will never understand that one.) or who manage to workout until the week before delivery, but I've learned that it's not worth wondering why all I crave is everything-bad-ever-created-in-the-food-universe, or the fact that I have absolutely zero motivation to workout when pregnant. I can be happy for my friends and their unique pregnancy journey and then I have to set it aside - knowing that my struggles will be different from theirs and that's okay. They probably struggle with other things that I don't - we all have our own hard, it's not worth comparing.
  • Find gratitude in being pregnant. For many women, it's such a struggle to even get or stay pregnant. At times when I'm really feeling down on myself, I try to remember how thankful I am to be able to grow and nurture a healthy baby inside of me. Even though I don't like how I look or how I feel, I know that this baby will be completely worth it, even if I keep all 30+ pounds after each baby as a souvenir - if I really think about it, those kiddos would honestly be worth every single pound. Giving up your body for nine months to create a life is one of the first sacrifices you'll make for your child, but as all mothers know, those sacrifices we make are totally and completely worth it to get to have them for a lifetime. 
While I'll likely never be one of those women that really enjoys pregnancy, I do believe it's so important to recognize the amazing work your body is doing in growing a human life. I don't like the weight gain at all, but even more so, I don't like stressing about it and having it constantly be on my mind. While yes, negative feelings to pop up more than I wish, I know how to combat them and have learned that my body is going to change and grow in the way it needs to, no matter what I do and it's so much easier to ride the wave than to fight it every step of the way.

Remember, your weight gain doesn't define your pregnancy, nor does it define you. You are way more than a number on a scale - don't let it get the best of you and take away all the good things that are happening. I mean, you're doing the most miraculous thing on earth - creating a new human life. Gaining 20 pounds or 70 pounds isn't going to change how incredibly amazing that is, so let the number lose its grip on your heart, and don't let it hold any power over you. By finding peace in the midst of your body changing and growing and I guarantee you'll enjoy your pregnancy so much more.

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