This is my first time being pregnant. It’s a whole new experience for me—and I do feel very lucky to experience pregnancy so far. I’ve just reached 19 weeks and honestly it hasn’t been that bad. I had mild nausea the first trimester (never threw up) and once I hit 12 weeks, my appetite came back in full force. Other symptoms, besides ravenous hunger, has just been fatigue. I have noticed lots of new thoughts arise about my body and weight, which I thought I would share today!
In the media, pregnancy is portrayed as a young, thin woman who only gains weight in their midsection. I had never really paid attention to this before – but once I started shopping for maternity clothes, I noticed it right away. Models used to sell non-maternity clothes are typically in smaller bodies, and the same holds true for maternity clothes. The models on some of the maternity websites I’ve been on are small, thin women with only a bump and no weight gain anywhere else (I realize that some of these models may not even be pregnant, just wearing a falsie, but that’s not the point). When you’re pregnant, most women gain weight everywhere (not always the case though). I know that I’m gaining weight in my thighs, arms, face, shoulders, basically everywhere. Clothes that “look good” and fit the shape of a smaller woman will look totally different on a woman in a larger body. I wish these websites would use a variety of shapes and sizes of pregnant models so we can get a better idea of how the clothes will fit!
Another thing I’ve been struggling with is getting over what I’ve been calling the “thin bump ideal”. Pregnancy is again, portrayed as a time when women aren’t supposed to gain much weight anywhere else other than their stomach, and they’re supposed to have this cute, popping baby bump. I always pictured myself in this same scenario, that once I got pregnant I would have this cute round belly and look the same everywhere else. Our society and the diet industry likes to push the “thin bump ideal” because it makes them money—pressuring mothers to want their “pre-baby” body back ASAP after giving birth! My journey into intuitive eating the past couple of years has taught me to deal with these thoughts, but they still pop up every now and then when I compare myself to other pregnant women. Telling myself that bodies are supposed to change over time and we’ll never be the exact same body helps. Bodies grow for specific purposes, such as growing a baby.
One thing I will add is that being pregnant has helped me tune into my intuitive eater more than ever before. Prior to pregnancy, I sometimes found it hard to tell when I was hungry or getting full and would overeat past my fullness level. When I was constantly nauseous and lost my appetite in the first trimester, I experienced what it’s like to only want certain foods. I paid attention to my body like never before. I didn’t want any of my normal foods—only ramen, cheese, crackers, cereal etc. When I ate something that made me nauseous, I took note of how that food made my body feel. When my appetite came back at 12 weeks, the physical hunger pangs were stronger than I’ve ever experienced. I can now better tell when I’m hungry. When I overeat now, I get bad reflux and I feel very distended and full. Certain foods make my reflux worse, which I am actively avoiding to respect my body. It’s been nice having exaggerated physical symptoms of hunger and fullness and I think I’ll be able to remember how this feels after the baby comes, which will help me eat intuitively in my non-pregnant body.
Finally, for the first time in my life, I have been totally comfortable giving myself unconditional permission to eat. I am growing another human being and my body is telling me what it needs—more food, more often! It’s been so interesting and eye opening to feel these feelings in my body.
Thoughts? Any fellow moms or mom-to-be experience similar feelings?
Hi! I’m Emily, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and self-taught intuitive chef. I firmly believe that cooking is the simplest and most important step we can take to improve our minds and bodies and build healthier communities. Join me and let’s bring food back to the kitchen!