My Body is Changing
I want to preface this blog post by saying that I've really enjoyed my pregnancy so far. I've loved seeing my belly grow. I've definitely enjoyed having glowing skin for the first time EVER. I especially love getting to hear our baby's heartbeat and feeling he or she move! The whole process has been such a bonding experience for my husband and I that has only made our love and respect for each other grow even stronger. It's been such a beautiful journey and one that I will treasure for my whole life. With that being said, I've had my days of sickness and days when I let vanity and fear seep in. I know I'm not alone in this feeling but it isn't talked about very often. That's what I'd like to discuss in this here. I want to always lead with gratitude and celebrate this beautiful, wonderful time...but I also want to keep it real and hold space for those of you (and sometimes myself) that occasionally struggle and feel shame because of it.
Everything from how you announce, whether or not you find out the gender, your birth plan, whether you breastfeed or bottle feed, how much or how little weight you gain, etc. is subject to scrutiny. The list goes on and on with the shaming and the unsolicited criticism masked as advice. It can be overwhelming, not to mention disheartening. Some ladies can easily make like T.Swift and "shake it off" but for those of us that are a little more on the sensitive side, it can get under our skin. And you know what, these tips can apply even if you aren't preggo because regardless of whether or not you carry a child in your lifetime, as a woman your body will inevitably change and the sooner you can get on board with that fact, the happier you will be.
If you've taken my course, I have shared in depth about my body images issues that started when I was just a kid. Knowing this about myself, I wanted to be as informed and as prepared as possible to deal with my changing body in a healthy way. Let's talk stretch marks. It comes down to genetics and how fast your body grows as well as how fast you get back to whatever post baby size you want. We slather these creams on religiously in the hopes of keeping the "tiger stripes," as some proud mamas call them, at bay. Personally, I believe that they help, plus it just makes your skin feel good and it gives you the chance to pamper yourself a bit each day. I'm really loving Mama Bee Butter and Bio Oil. I got my first set of stretch marks at the age of 16 when my body rapidly grew. I was a late bloomer and it was like one day I woke up and wasn't a scrawny kid anymore. These marks are something that have caused me much insecurity over the years. I still don't like them, but the fact is that they are there and they aren't going away so I just have to find way to accept it. So far, I have no new marks but there's always a chance. I'll do what I can physically to prevent them but more than anything, I want to be in a good mindset mentally. It helps to focus on what you DO love about your body, which makes the things you don't love matter less and less. We also have to remember to put things into perspective and step out of vanity for a moment. This doesn't diminish or devalue your feelings at all. You're entitled to feel the way you feel, so don't push it away. Allow yourself to take it in and then move on. While it's comfortable to stay in those negative thought patterns and hyper focus on the things we don't like, it isn't in our best interest in the long run. To top it off, do we want to pass this behavior onto our children? Join with me as we shout out a collective "HELL NO!" We want our sons and daughters to be strong, confident, loving, happy individuals, do we not? We have to be that example for our children, so if you can't do it for yourself, do it for that sweet baby who calls you mama.
Is that a muffin top, beer belly or is she pregnant? LOL The first trimester and for some, part of the second trimester where your body kind of does this thing I call "the grinch" can be a bit awkward. Basically you get kind of thick around your middle but everything else stays the same. AKA the grinch bod. The resemblance is uncanny! haha It's a mix of being super happy that you're pregnant while also being uncomfortable in not only your clothes but your own skin too. For me, I could not wait for my bump to be more visible so I could get out of this phase, however, I didn't let it get me down. Here's how: I focused on the long game. I thought about how fun the bump would be and how amazing it will be to finally meet the life growing inside me. I thought about how incredible it was to have not just one, but two hearts beating within my body. I focused on being grateful that my body was capable of this task. Make no mistake, children are MIRACLES. If you really stop to think about the process from start to finish, it's mind blowing! Carrying and bringing a child into this world is nothing short of miraculous. You're doing something freaking incredible so keep your mind centered on that, sweet mama. Lastly, I laughed and I laughed a lot! I found humor in the strange shape my body had taken and gave myself grace.
Next stop, breakout city! I am one of the fortunate ones that hasn't struggled with problematic skin during pregnancy. I've had oily, sensitive, acne prone skin for a long time so I think my little baby decided to give mama a break. lol Again, I knew this could happen and I prepared myself for it. I knew my entire skin care regiment would need to change. Things like retinol and salicylic acid can cause fetal development issues but there are alternative ways to tackle breakouts. Another skin concern that many women face, including me, is hyper-pigmentation or melasma. This is hereditary but also triggered by hormonal changes and sun exposure can make it worse which is one of the many reasons I advocate for good sun protection in all seasons. When you're pregnant, your skin is more sensitive to sunlight so you have to be extra careful. Luckily, I found a full line of skin care that's not only plant based, but free of parabens and sulfates as well as being vegan and cruelty-free. To top it off, my skin is the best it has ever been in my entire life. So...here's what I've been using along with some other recommendations:
QUENCH CLEANSE - cleanser for normal to dry skin
DREAM CLEAN - cleanser for normal to oily, sensitive and acne prone skin
SOTOKS - lightens, tightens and brightens. this not only helps with anti-aging and large pores but it also helps with dark spots. this stuff is a miracle and my most favorite product
ONE DROP WONDER - this is a multi-purpose oil: increased hydration, cellular turnover, anti-aging, scarring and many other skin concerns
SKIN THERAPY - moisturizer for all skin types
EYE ARISE - eye serum for aging and dark circles
MASQUE OF ZEN - mask for normal, oily and acne prone skin. You can also use this to spot treat pimples
LASH BOOST - this is the best lash and brow growth product I've ever used and it's preggo safe. holla!
PERFECT SUNSCREEN - another fave for the face. won't get greasy or clog pores. doesn't smell great, but it works really well
DEWY SKIN CREAM - great for dry, dehydrated skin
AQUAPHOR - the only lip balm I could find w spf and I also like the amount of shine it gives
LOVING TAN - current favorite tanning mousse. I use the 2 hour but they have an overnight version as well
COMPLEXION RESCUE - tinted moisturizer with spf is a go-to for my 5min face
SHEER BODY SUNSCREEN - spray on makes applying this a breeze plus it feels light and gives your bod a nice shine. this isn't as clean as some other sunscreens, but I still use and enjoy it
THE ORDINARY - this is pure zinc and one of two products you can use to fight pimples during pregnancy. Benzoyl Peroxide products are seemingly okay but I would use with caution or ask your healthcare provider to be sure. There hasn't been any testing that shows negative side effects so overall it's assumed to be safe
There are obviously more changes that occur during the 9 month period and even postpartum but regardless of what they are, I want you (and me too) to take comfort in the fact that we are doing something totally miraculous and incredible with our bodies and when we see that sweet little face, none of it will matter. For many, it's easier said than done especially if you've suffered with body issues, disorders, depression and so on. One thing that really helps me with life in general is prayer, mediation and mantras. There is no right or wrong way to pray. What prayer does is signal that we are open to receive guidance, we are open to receive abundance and we are stepping forward in faith. During meditation, I find that's when we are spoken to. By clearing your mind, you open yourself to experiencing the divine in way you cannot when the noise of the world and your mind cloud that connection. When it comes to mantras, it comes down to the belief that our words and our thoughts have power. Saying these phrases, even when we don't fully believe them, can have such a healing affect and eventually, I do believe that they become truth for you if you say them enough. Here are some of my favorites:
1. Every day, every month, every year my body is changing.
2. I am not perfect and that is okay.
3. There is beauty in my imperfections.
4. I am worth far more than my appearance.
5. I am enough.
6. I nurture and respect my body by showing it love and treating it with kindness.
7. My body is just a vessel.
8. I can accomplish anything I set my mind to.
9. I am grateful for everything my body allows me to do.
10. My body is able.
11. I will not listen to the negative voices in my head.
12. I love the woman staring back at me in the mirror.
13. No one cares about my body as much as I do.
14. I will not compare myself to other women. We are all beautiful and unique.
15. My body is my home. I will build it up, not tear it down.
16. My body is capable of miracles.
17. None of this will matter when I hold my sweet baby.
Lastly, I have some final tips for you that I have gathered in preparation for this moment in my life. I hope they help you as much as they have helped me!
1. Focus on the miracle at hand. This is such a gift and I for one am so grateful each day that I get to bring this life into the world. It is the greatest thing I will ever do!
2. Ignore the chatter. Everyone has opinions and none of them matter. Block it out, sister.
3. Don't play the comparison game. Don't dwell on your pre-baby bod. Don't shed a tear over the clothes that don't fit. Don't compare yourself to anyone else. Just live in the moment and try your best to ENJOY the ride. It also helps to focus on the changes your like...like bigger boobs! lol
4. LOVE YOURSELF
5. Embrace our support system. My husband has been an absolute gem since the moment I told him the news. He's been so patient with me and we talk extensively so that we remain on the same page about everything. Watching him blossom into this version of himself makes me so proud and I feel so loved and supported. On days when you feel like crap and your spouse or partner tells you that you look beautiful - believe them because they mean it. Embrace the love.
6. Do things just for you. Take that ten minutes to soak up some sun, work in your garden, read a book, take a bath, cook, exercise, play with your other children or dogs, watch a movie - whatever it is, DO IT and don't feel bad about it. Caring for yourself = caring for your unborn child. What you do, think, feel and say directly affects the life growing inside you. It's a serious job so it is okay to do whatever you need to do to feel calm, relaxed and sane.
7. Focus on the positive and leave vanity at the door. Experience a whole new level of confidence knowing that you are bringing a beautiful life into the world. Embrace your curves and know that you are both sexy and strong. Also, dressing in clothes that make you feel your best and staying clean can make a world of a difference. Personally, I like to accentuate my bump, not hide it. But to each their own!
8. Don't dwell on the past. Your life is never going to be the same and that's what you wanted! The "new you" doesn't have to be "less than" your pre-mama self.
9. Find a support system other than you spouse/partner. You will probably have a lot of questions and you will definitely be experiencing things that a man (and some women) have never experienced. Finding a group of gal pals is a great way to bond and get that additional love and support. I'm really lucky that a few women I know are either pregnant at the same time as me OR have had babies this year which has been great way to bond. Knowing our kids will grow up together and could potentially be friends is such a cool thing! I've been able to grow these relationships to something much more than surface level because we understand each other more so than ever before. On the flip side, don't abandon your friends that don't have children. They may not understand all you're going through but if they love you, they will be support you in the best way they know how. All of my friends that don't have kiddos have been amazing during my pregnancy! Besides, it's nice to keep a piece of yourself and who you were before a tiny human called you mommy. And after all, it takes a village.
10. Be the person you needed when you were little. You are going to be the most influential figure in your child's life so handle that responsibility with care and pride! You got this mama!!! :)
BUT DON'T JUST TAKE IT FROM ME, HERE'S WHAT OTHER MOMS ARE SAYING...
"Biggest thing I tell my friends about weigh gain: it took 9 months to gain it. It can take up to a year to lose it. Give yourself grace and don't compare your journey to another mama's."
"Don't judge your pregnancy to someone else's. You'll go through a vastly different experience than someone else. Your body is working harder now that it ever has. Take each day as it comes and each new thing new thing you experience as it comes."
"Surround yourself with other mommas who are encouragers, lifters and support you through it all. Your main man is always there for you and will ALWAYS sing your praises; however, there is something different when your best gals are supporting you through changes. So find girlfriends that you can talk about those struggles with instead of keeping the negative thoughts to yourself. It's totally normal to feel like crap about your body and how it looks during/after baby. All the time you devoted to yourself goes out the window when a new baby arrives, but it is so important to find yourself again. You might not be the same as you were before, but new is always good. I love that the new 'me' will always put her babies before herself...but cares enough to take care of the new person she has become."
"This is the most magical time you will experience. Your body is doing this unbelievable thing and growing a human. I tried to stay positive and see myself as worthy and beautiful. My tip is to not worry about weight gain or anything like that and enjoy this beautiful time."
"I think my first tip is simply honoring those feelings and holding space for them, not pretending that you aren't mourning what was. Stretch marks might occur, etc. and it's OK to feel sad for a bit. After really leaning into that and allowing yourself to process, intentionally come back to LOVE. SEARCH for a new appreciation for your body. Yes, it's housing a human and how incredible that is, but how POWERFUL and DIVINE you are to have a body that can undergo such radical magic as a woman - even outside of pregnancy. And this season literally fliesssss by, so as annoying as it is and as much as we hear it while pregnant and are ready to be on the other side, embrace the season every chance we get. See your body though the lens of awe, SEARCH for the beautiful and amazingness in this fleeting season. A pregnant woman is the physical manifestation of god and straight magic, in my opinion."
"I had a very difficult pregnancy. I was sick every day. I grinned through most of my symptoms because I was shamed too many times about how I should practice gratitude instead of frustration. I felt disregarded as a human. I gained 60 pounds!!! What?! I had a perfectly healthy pregnancy but I was in total denial about my feelings. I had no tips to get me through. I had a terrible pregnancy and now a perfect baby. Remember that this is a season in your life. All things change. How you feel now, mentally, physically and emotionally will change and evolve. I was so frustrated about my weight and getting back to 'normal' that I stopped enjoying the process. It WILL change. It DOES get better."
"Focus on what your body has done and has created. So many of us moms hate our stretch marks and our saggy skin from having a child but the truth is there are people out there praying for this to happen to them."
"My pregnancy body was my favorite! I don't know what it is but I always felt confident and comfortable. The only tip I have is to keep baby oil in your shower and put it on before you dry off. I literally swear by it!!"
"I absolutely loved being pregnant. I loved having a big belly and watching it grow. I had such an easy pregnancy and labor. I do remember having to have an episiotomy and the best thing thing that helped it was soaking in a jetted tub with a ton of epsom salt!"
THANK YOU TO ALL THE MAMA'S WHO SHARED THEIR TIPS WITH ME FOR THIS POST!
I hope you enjoyed reading this this as much as I have enjoyed writing it. Until next time...
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