Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Body issues and pregnancy

image via weheartit

I've written before about my previous struggles with body issues, and I thought it was important to make a post here about my current thoughts on this topic while pregnant. I've gotten a lot of formspring questions and emails about it as well, so I thought it was good to finally discuss it. It's a touchy area to write about- it's actually quite scary for me to get this all out, because I know that it's easy to judge something you may not understand. It's also an issue that not many people may think about, or discuss during pregnancy, but for my friends and me, it's definitely been a topic of conversation.

Being pregnant is an amazing, amazing time. I love having this little darling baby inside of me, growing every single day. I luckily haven't had to deal with any sickness, and it's been pretty smooth sailing for me through the past four and a half months. My struggle in the beginning was more on the emotional side of things, and at the current place I'm in- not quite looking pregnant but not quite looking like myself- it's at time a little hard for me to accept this change. Luckily my emotions have totally evened out and I've been feeling good for the past couple of months, but occasionally negative feelings do come to the surface. know that we are very lucky to be pregnant, and to have an apparently healthy pregnancy thus far. And I love this. I love it so much, and body image/issues has nothing to do with my darling little one or my very anticipated baby bump.

Having suffered from body image issues in college, I know what it's like to have unhealthy thoughts and feel bad about yourself. In the past few years I've completely gotten over it, but even though I am 110% healthy now, thoughts always linger. It's weird being at a place where I'm not working out to stay at my weight or to stay in shape, I'm not trying to get bathing suit ready for summer...I'm trying to sustain this beautiful life inside of me. Exercise has a different meaning. And with that comes less working out, less intensity, and more emphasis on letting my body do its thing naturally. I know my body is redistributing weight, and on my best days, this is okay. Heck, even on my so-so days this is more than alright. But it's those days that creep up on everyone, the days when you just don't feel your best, is when I start to have those negative thoughts in my mind. It can be hard for me, as I typically feel awesome about my body and self. Not only is it a bummer for me to deal with these thoughts, I almost get down on myself for having them! I'm pregnant! Why on earth should I care that my face is rounder or my waist is widening during this special time?

And that is where my struggle lies. Because I'm so adamant about being honest and truthful here, and because I'm sure other women have gone through this, I had to share. I do realize that I just made a post about self-acceptance, and I have been taking my own advice...I just find it a little harder to do while pregnant. And I think that's okay. Like I said in my self-acceptance post, I feel great almost all the time...but now, when I do have the occasional down day, it's magnified. Be it my pregnancy hormones, or just the fact that this time it isn't in my head, I am in fact getting bigger, it's rough. It's very back and forth. Some days I embrace it, I know how beautiful these changes are. On those other rare days it's a bit harder for me.

I wanted to write this so other pregnant women out there know that it's OKAY to not feel super ecstatic all of the time about all of these bodily changes. It seems almost a given that you wouldn't! It's hard. I'm lucky to have a very great support system of my Mom, Autumn, and my dear friends Erin and Emily who are Moms, or in Erin's case, are pregnant right along with me. My Mommy friends were always in fantastic shape before the baby, and made working out a large priority. Now, they are back in great shape and dealt with similar thoughts while getting used to their ever-changing bodies during pregnancy. It's so amazing to be able to talk openly about such a taboo subject with them (believe me, most people do NOT want to hear "I feel SO fat" from a pregnant woman), and have so many shared experiences to draw from.

So that's where I ask you mamas out there, did you ever have any body issues while pregnant? How did you handle them?

I feel my BEST when I'm eating super healthy and working out, pregnant or not, so I obviously have continued to do so. I've found that I've been feeling a lot better lately when I get my regular workouts in (lower-intensity of course) and incorporate some pregnancy-friendly relaxation things like yoga in there. When I feel like I'm doing my best to be healthy for the baby I'm the happiest, and on those rare days I feel off, it's easier to come back to reality. My worst was probably in the beginning. It was a mix of new hormones, a rush of all sorts of things going on in my body, and I just felt totally out of whack. Lately I've been feeling great. I'm embracing that my body is changing, and I'm excited to have a big belly and actually look pregnant. I'm in a good place. :)

I love open, honest dialogue and it's nice to have a place like this where I can share my feelings openly. Thanks again for reading and I look forward to reading what you have to say! xoxo


  1. You are beautiful and it is normal to feel that way.. We are women for god sake!! Everything about us is hormonals for the most part... I had a eating disorder in the past too ( and actually thanks to you I am so much better now so thanks again) and I still sometimes fell so off with myself! And I am not even pregnant yet!!! It is so hard to find our balance so I am here with you and I won't accept any mean person to be rude! You are BEAUTiFUL and by taking care of youself and by loving yourself your little one will be as beautiful as you and just come to this world with a smile on his or her face... :)))

  2. Danielle, it is totally normal to feel that way sometimes! When I was pregnant I loved having the belly, but it didn't happen overnight. There is a stage in pregnancy when you are bigger than normal but don't look pregnant & you just want to tell everyone, "I'm not fat, I'm pregnant!" You are in such great shape now & that will help you after the baby comes. Good luck! I can't wait to find out what it is. Oh yeah, I took your poll & said girl, but I've changed my mind. I really think it's going to be a boy!

  3. I agree that it is normal to feel the way you've been feeling. I'm 7 months pregnant right now, with my second child, and I've been struggling with the same thoughts on occasion. Especially when people are constantly pointing out to me how "huge" my belly is. I've only gained 30 lbs this time around, with my first I gained over 60 lbs. total. It was really tough and I never wanted to leave the house last time. But I lost the weight really fast because I know how to lose weight and eat healthy, and since you know how to do those things too- you'll be just fine after baby comes. It is really tough getting bigger, sometimes I really worry my husband isn't attracted to me, but I know its just in my head. Pregnancy horomones are crazy things sometimes. Just know you aren't alone in your thoughts and feelings. But I know after you have your baby you will be able to get back to your pre-pregnancy body very quickly. :) Keep your chin up and remember to love yourself, as you said in your previous post! I enjoyed that one very much. I've struggled with self-acceptance a lot, and it helps to hear encouragement. Even if it is indirect. :) Thank you for writing on your blog, I really enjoy reading it. Take care!

  4. Thank you for being so genuine and honest with your readers. I haven't experienced pregnancy yet, but my husband and I are trying. (only in the past month) I'm always interested in reading what others go through and the feelings they experience during pregnancy. I don't necessarily struggle with my weight on a daily basis now, but I am always conscious of my weight - if that makes sense. I can only imagine what it will be like if I become pregnant.

  5. with my first pregnancy i was very upset. i had been a bigger girl my whole life, and the year before i had lost 65 pounds. i wasn't ready to be big again! it took about 5 months before i finally learned to appreciate my body and what it was doing. i was able to safely lose the weight after my son was born (which was the ENTIRE 65 pounds i had already lost!!!), much to my relief.

    now i am 4 months pregnant with my second child. it's much easier this time around for me. there are days when i look in the mirror and see a bloated body, and a puffy face. but i realize this is only temporary, and the result is going to be something amazing. :)

    besides, pregnant women of ALL sizes are beautiful!

  6. Ummm, YEAH! HECK YEAH! I gained 50 during my pregnancies...so I feel like that is what my body needed to gain. The first pregnancy I was healthy; I ran, exercised, worked up to my due date (almost), and with my second I was on bed-rest for 2/3 of my pregnancy and still gained the same amount of weight. You are a fool to think you will blindly LOVE your new shape, but you just have tot ell yourself everyday that this whole fluffy pregnant body is the first selfless thing you will do in a lifetime of selfless things for this little peanut! YOU are gorgeous, you are normal, and you will loose whatever weight you gain in the the next few months...heck you walk out of the hospital about 20 lbs lighter to start with!
    Hang in there...they are totally worth it!
    AND, just so you have proof I was fluffy and know what I am talking about, here is my before and after!

  7. I'm currently four months pregnant with my second child - and i really feel that the WORST part is that in between stage, where you don't QUITE look pregnant yet, and you're too small for maternity clothes but all your regular clothes don't quite fit anymore. I struggle(d) with that stage because i just hated the fact that my body was changing and i wasn't quite 'there' yet. Once i 'popped' with my first, then i suddenly was in LOVE with my body. I wore tight shirts to show off the bump, and some friends and my hubby painted my belly and we had a Buddha Belly celebration. I think that really helped, having people around me to celebrate my new body. it really helped me feel like a goddess, and to accept by roundness, my widening hips, my heaving bosom. it helped me feel sacred. like a mother.

    luckily for us, when you're nursing a baby - you burn about 300 calories (approx) PER feeding! I think that's natures way of saying; "Hey, thanks for storing that extra padding so you could turn it into feeding material for your little one, let me help melt off the rest." So, once you're cleared for exercise by your doctor, you can really get back into shape fast.

  8. I went from 125 lbs. to 195 the day i delivered. in my first three months i gained a lot of weight without effort and since i didn't look pregnant i had a lot of issues with it. and even the day of my baby shower at 8 months along i thought wow my face is FAT. the majority of the days (mostly after i looked pregnant) i realized how gorgeous it is, but there were days when i felt off about the weight and the changes. And not to scare you but the few months after birth have a whole new set of challenges. But when all is said and done after going through all of that i am so much more in touch with my body and so much more comfortable in my skin, even if i personally have a little more of it since i've been a mommy. I actually feel like a woman now, curves and stretch marks and all and i embrace all of it because of the beautiful little girl running around that I made!

  9. Great post. I remember the phase where I thought that every passing stanger was wondering if I was pregnant or chubby... good thing it doen't last long! You are going to have the cutest little bump ever! Now, trying for our second and a little heavier than our first I find comfort in pregnancy... it's like my stomache changes from a big insecurity into my best feature : )

  10. I think this is something most pregnant women deal with. It is really hard to just let go, and let your body do this ridiculous thing that is making another human being. I don't care how even-keeled your hormones are or how much you love your body, IT IS HARD and your body changes a lot. And struggling with all of these fairly rapid and extreme changes does not reflect one iota on how you feel about the person you are growing.

    Honestly, there was never a point in my pregnancy where I completely stopped having bad days, but I agree with others who say that in-between belly time is the worst. The day I realized my belly looked like a baby bump and not a beer gut I put on a tight shirt and showed that thing off. So, yeah, things get better, but it's okay to have bad days.

  11. You aren't alone and this IS totally normal. Your body is going through the most dramatic physical change it will ever undertake, and I haven't met one women who wasn't at least slightly alarmed or even scared during all the physical changes that accompany pregnancy.

    I gained at least 50lbs with my son and I felt like I'd let my body and myself down. But the outcome was worth it.

    You seem to be living a very healthy life and filling it with nutritious food and exercise and love, which will do wonders for your body and soul.

    Plus, who can resist an insanely lovely pregnant woman?!

  12. You are just and honest woman, it's a beautiful quality. I think you spoke wonderfully on this topic. Pregnant women should be happy and proud of the shape they transform into in order to grow their child. You're going to be an amazing mother. :}

    Love and Turtledoves,

  13. Honestly, I was pregnant so long ago, and when I was 'with child' I was 17 & 19... I didn't know what healthy living was. I used pregnancy (both times) as an excuse to eat as much *crap (food) as I could. Everyone said "oh, you're so young, the weight will melt right off". That didn't happen, and it took me a really long time (well, till NOW, almost 30) to understand about taking care of your body.

    I think that writing, here on your blog, and talking with your mama friends and those who support you (p.s. I totally support you) is very important to the process of pregnancy. I journaled when I was pregnant, because you do go through so many different and unusual feelings and emotions. Anyone who could be judgmental over anything honest you say here must not be a mother, or maternal. In any case, you just delete those people because you don't need the negative energy.
    Enjoy your pregnancy. The ups, and downs, and in-betweens. And thank you for sharing such a personal journey. :-)

  14. Danielle, I hear you!!! I have dealt with everything that you are feeling. It's a hard transition. I actually really preferred my body once I had the big old baby belly. That way no one was mistaken, I sure was pregnant not just a little chubby! I agree with everyone that it is totally normal to feel all of these things and I applaud you for embracing your changing self. When you see that little darling, your body will mean nothing. Every little stretch mark, muffin top and thicker hip that I got from my pregnancies are all worth it. Children are such a blessing! Not that I don't at times want my pre-baby body back but seeing their sweet little faces does really help. And I have no doubt in my mind that since you enjoy eating healthy as well as working out you will have a rockin' body again. Until then, indulge yourself with yummy treats from time to time and enjoy feeling that little girl or boy bouncing around in your belly(that's the part I miss the most). You are going to be an amazing mama!! xoxo

  15. I never felt that "glow" that everyone talks about. I was crazy comfy though, because let's face it, being preg is the ONLY time where it's cute to have a bulging belly. The worst, for me, was the time when you had a little bulge, but you couldn't REALLY tell you were preg.

    My insecurities came post preg. Some people shed the belly instantly, I'm not that lucky.

  16. This is the very awkward point in pregnancy. I used to want to wear a tshirt everyday that said, "No, seriously, I'm pregnant, not just fat". It will be over soon enough, and then you'll get the random smiles and caring looks rather than being paranoid about your belly. It takes a while to get off the weight, but it is much better to gain healthily while pregant, rather than try and skimp on foods, and deprive the baby of any nutrition (which I know you know!). :) When I was pregnant I ate AS MUCH as I wanted, however, I kept it to fruits and veggies. I let myself eat as much of them as I wanted pretty much all day long. I didn't gain a whole lot of extra weight, and it was all sooo good for the baby. I'm so excited for you, and am happy you're letting us follow your journey. I really wish I would have been blogging when pregnant to have a record of it all. Oh well, there's next time... which hopefully won't be in the very distant future!

    Christina :o)

  17. i completely understand! i am in my fifth pregnancy right now. (in under seven years, no less) and i've fluctuated between 140 pounds and 230 pounds over the years.... its been a crazy time for me, weight wise.... through all the changes in my size, i've realized that what's important is who i am on the inside. i've got photos through the years, where i was a size 7 all the way up to a size 20 and back down to a 7 again, and guess what? my husband's got his arm around me in all of them - no matter what size i was. that's what it's all about. loving someone for who they are on the inside.
    and the most important thing, is a healthy baby!! so, taking care of yourself so you and your baby can be healthy matters most.
    you're doing amazing!!

  18. Hi Danielle!
    Well, it's really an insecure moment for all women, but if you eat healthly and do your work out, you have nothing to fear. My mom had four kids and she has the most perfect body I know!
    So relax and enjoy this beautiful moment!

    My best wishes to you! ;)

  19. I absolutely adore this post, you're so honest and open- I just want to give you a huge bloggy hug.

    One of my friends is pregnant now too, and she just posted about the same thing very briefly- reading it I was so surprised that I hadn't read about it before, but it seems to me like it would be a completely normal thing to feel while your body is changing.

    Just keep up the healthy eating and being positive. And my goodness, keep writing lady. You're wonderful :)

  20. Oh its completely normal!! I cried once I reached 110lbs because that was just huge to me personally. I've struggled with my body image all throughout high school because I've always wanted the perfect body.

    I was VERY emotional in the beginning as well so it took a lot from my boyfriend to try and keep me mentally stable. But I'm putting on all this weight for a reason, for that little bundle of life inside my belly!

    Now I'm not going to lie, I get very depressed when shopping and I see something cute that I can't fit in and I want to buy it but I can't because I have no idea what my body will be like once my baby is born. Like I used to be a size 0 in jeans and now I'm a size 5 without wearing one of those pregnancy bands. I went from being 97lbs to about 125lbs. Its a big difference and it can be hard to imagine that but during pregnancy, you really can't control your body much at all.

    Although I am excited for September 2nd so I can shop at Forever 21 again and not have to constantly wear leggings and sweats lol.

    Also I think you're having a boy as well. I don't know...that's just my vote lol.
    Anyhow, hope everything is going well for you! :)

  21. It is very normal to feel chubby and not cute at the beginning of the body changes during pregnancy. Now that I look bad at my photos from around the same stage in pregnancy that you are in now, I realize how thin I was. I was active and ate healthy but I still felt down sometimes.
    One day I was feeling so BLAH so I took myself out shopping and got some cute undies and a pedicure. It helped a lot to relax me and feel good about myself. Pamper yourself! Then, when I really had a belly I wore snug shirts and showed off my cute baby bump. I was so happy and I think that is where the pregnancy glow comes from.
    I loved my pregnant curves once my body really "bloomed". I would say the toughest part for me was my body AFTER the baby.

  22. im 15 weeks myself and feeling very in-between, no baby bump just a fat gut is how i see it. i know baby needs as much space as they can get, but they are still so small, it just feels like the little bump is just my fat and not my little tiny baby. im really looking forward to looking most differently pregs and not fat. but its all in my head no one can see the bump but me and my partner (who is way super supportive which i so need right now with my thoughts and is so excited!)
    i just think no matter how we feel (with all these hormones running around like mad!) is total normal, and with family and friends to talk to it can only help.
    wish you health and enjoy it all

  23. First, I want to say a very heartfelt "congratulations"! This is truly one of the most special moments in your life. Relish it. Now, to the body issues. Before children, I was consumed with my imperfections. I starved myself, exercised to exhaustion and still could not find it within myself to be as beautiful or stunning as the woman sitting across from me. Now, however, I have the confidence I never had. Yes, the stretch marks on my stomach are unattractive and I've lost my perky breasts but I have gained so much more. My body, especially those imperfections, nourished and protected two of the most fabulous children. This is the confidence I wish I had when I was much younger, and ironically, more physically "perfect". The truth of the matter is I will take my physical imperfections along with a peanut butter and jelly picnic with a game of water balloon tag over another dry salad and 2 mile jog anyday. Also, I work really hard to instill a positive body image for my daughter. I do not want her to grow up thinking she has to be a certain way when all she needs to do is live healthy. Take care.

  24. I am 23 weeks and have always been thin. I, like you, didn't show until recently. This past weekend we went to the beach and I felt GIGANTIC! I kept catching myself pulling my bottoms over my thighs and trying to hurry through crowds so they would not look at me...haha. It is very strange to watch your body change and be so very excited and insecure at the same time...but, it will be all worth it :-)

  25. Hi Danielle. This is my first time here, and I have to say that you are just adorable. LOVE the tattooed belly pics :). I feel like I can relate to you in many ways. Body issues and pregnancy is such a hot button topic, because I am pretty sure almost every woman experiences some LOVE-HATE struggles with her changing body during that amazing experience. I had to add my comment because I had really struggled with weight and body image my whole young life, until I started running and exercising regularly. It was my anti-depressant. It kept me stable, happy, healthy. Then I got pregnant with my son and started to freak. (my mother is largely overweight and this happened when she had her children and it NEVER went away). Let me admit that I was a bit overly dramatic - blame the hormones, and really grieved the loss of my former body shape - fully believing that I had no choice but to accept a rounder larger shape, (with saggy boobs!) from now on. Well, after I got through the drama of it, turned out that I could continue my running/exercise schedule just fine. (there were many days that I had to take a power nap after work just to get my body back out the door and moving, but I did it! I ran 2-3 miles (every other day) until my 7th month, and then bought myself a pregnancy gift (elliptical machine) and kept going until delivery. Astoundingly, I looked exactly the same from behind as I did 9 months before. It can be done! (it also helped me keep up my stamina and strength for the delivery) - huge bonus! Just keep doing what FEELS good to you as reach each new step in growing that little one.

    I will definitely be following along here. Congratulations Momma!! You are doing wonderfully.

    :)- harmony

  26. I love your honesty and understand what this all feels like (both times) and applaud you for doing all you are doing to keep yourself healthy physically and emotionally. I think your recovery back to pre-baby will be so much easier because you're still treating your body with so much care rather than giving in to the 'bleh' and just eating comfort food. It's so easy to get there and not rebound!

    Your baby bump is so cute and I hope you feel fantastic about your changing shape throughout your pregnancy.

  27. This is what I worry about the most. I am 21 years old, and I hope to one day be a mum too. I was anorexic when I was around 13 up until I was 17 and I am now very happy to be the weight I am at 8 stone. I'm proud of this. But even so, I still have those horrible t houghts about my weight and how I will feel when I get bigger and bigger. I am going to aim to eat very healthily when the time comes. But I felt awful about feeling that way about my figure. Now I feel better. I never wanted to ask a pregnant lady.. because they might think I'm saying theyre fat!

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