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When You Hate Your Pregnant Body

Mar24

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smackdown_weightgain.jpgDearest Amy/Amalah/Best Advice Giver Ever,

I am 25 weeks pregnant and beyond excited for this little baby girl to grace me with her presence. I wanted this pregnancy more than anything and on our one year wedding anniversary, I got to tell my hubby that we were expecting. We were off to a perfect start and my husband and I were thrilled….until the weight gain came.

I started my pregnancy at what would be considered a very healthy weight. I was 133 pounds at 5’6″. I was thin! But it didn’t matter. I have always struggled with my body image and accepting all of these extra pounds has been quite a problem, to say the least. I end up in tears every morning when I try to get dressed. I look down and get excited to see my belly, and then I see myself in that stupid mirror and OMG – my butt, my thighs, my arms. I can’t handle it and I break down.

I have gained 20 pounds so far. Although my doctor hasn’t mentioned any concern about my weight gain, it seems excessive to me. I dwell on that number daily. TWENTY POUNDS. It is consuming my life.

I want to enjoy this pregnancy more than anything. I want to accept my changing body. I want to believe all the wonderful things that people say about me. So my question to you is – What do you do when you don’t love your pregnant body? Am I doomed to be miserable in my body for the next 15 weeks? What if the baby gets here and I can’t enjoy her because I am so focused on how disgusting I am?


I would be forever appreciative of any advice you could give me.

Thanks in advance!

Kellie
Oh, sweetie. You feel how you feel. It’s okay. It’s not any indication of the kind of mother you’ll be. It doesn’t mean that you’re ungrateful or shallow or Failing At Pregnancy.

For the record: 20 pounds at 25 weeks is not excessive. Not even close. Here’s a breakdown of the wheres and hows and whats of full-term pregnancy weight gain:
12 pounds: Maternal stores (fat, protein, Cheezits, etc.)
4 pounds: Increased fluid volume, aka water weight, aka blooooaaaat
2 pounds: IN YOUR BRA
2 pounds: Uterus
2 pounds: Amniotic fluid
1.5 pounds: Mmmmmplacenta
7.5 pounds: Baby! (“HA!” says the woman who birthed a 10-pounder.)

Seriously, start at the top of that list and you’ll rack up 20 pounds before you even include the fluid, placenta OR ANY BABY AT ALL. At 25 weeks, your baby is about a pound and a half. So that’s 13 pounds of baby and baby-related accessories, which puts your “maternal stores,” the only thing that MIGHT be what we traditionally consider “actual weight gain” (even though it is 100% more than necessary), at a mere 7 pounds. Seven! That’s not a pregnancy, that’s a potato-chip binge while PMSing.

But while you say that it’s the weight gain number that’s consuming your life, but I’m gonna make a guess and say that it’s your FEELINGS about that weight gain number that are actually wigging you out. The “I’m a bad person for feeling this way” implication is just DRIPPING through your email, because you are aware that this is possibly a tad irrational and isn’t how you pictured your pregnancy and what if you hate the baby and what if what if and *breathes into a paper bag omg.*

Pregnant Lady Secret: We all do this. Maybe about the weight gain, maybe about something else. We stress over whether we look “pregnant” or “fat” or whether our boobs are “freakishly big” or not changing enough. We puke and complain about back pain and stare at swollen ankles with frustration and secretly wish we could get this all over with already. And then we take these TOTALLY NORMAL REACTIONS to a COMPLETELY LIFE-CHANGING PROCESS and turn them inward as proof that we are going to be bad mothers or are “missing out” on some amazing universal experience and pregnancy ideal that doesn’t freaking exist.

Personally, my descent into pregnancy-related anxiety began at our 20-week ultrasound, when we found out we were having a boy. I’d been sort-of kind-of hoping for a girl. I felt a pinprick of disappointment and a single involuntary tear when the technician announced Noah’s sex and I proceeded to spend the next 20 weeks completely beating myself up about that reaction. Clearly, I was an ungrateful monster. My son was going to sense that I felt that way. We weren’t going to bond.

Full-on anxiety attacks. For WEEKS. Which I then took to mean that I was still upset about the presence of a penis because why was I anything other than 100% deliriously happy? What was wrong with me? Rinse, repeat, recycle.

And then Noah was born and I literally burst out laughing at myself in the recovery room when I thought of how WORRIED I’D BEEN THAT I WASN’T GOING TO LOVE HIM.

Basically: It’s okay if you DON’T love your pregnant body. Obviously, I wish you could. I want you to, because I’m betting you’re goddamned adorable (And I’ll present evidence to that end in just a bit). I’d definitely suggest 1) getting rid of your own scale and any full-length mirrors, 2) asking the nurse to weigh you facing away from the office scale and not tell you the number, and 3) maybe, JUST MAYBE, hiring a professional photographer for a maternity portrait session — one that’s designed to focus on the belly and not your butt and thighs; one that’s completely focused on making you look and feel pretty. You don’t even have to look at the photos now. But someday — when you are less hormonal and more objective — you’ll be happy to have something that celebrated how you really looked, even if you can’t quite see it right now.

For now, give yourself a break, both on the weight gain front AND DOUBLY on the fretting-about-your-feelings-about-the-weight-gain front. When you look at yourself in the mirror and don’t like what you see, refuse to feel guilty about that. Make a face at yourself and let the feeling kind of wash over you and through you, just like you might with any type of anxiety. (Generally, the more you “fight off” feelings of anxiety, the more likely they are to escalate to panic or breakdowns.) Acknowledge that hey, you really don’t love this aspect of pregnancy, and you don’t really *have to*. It’s temporary. It’s worth it. You know it’s worth it, even if you don’t like it. Eh.

And now, an email I received a few days after yours:

Dear Amalah,

Well first, a disclaimer: my sister and I are obsessed with you. Like the kind of obsessed that would probably make you nervous if you knew about it. I mean, we don’t want to stalk you and collect your hair for a hair doll or anything, but if we could just go have a drink with you and play with your babies, I think we would die happy. That kind. “Amalah” is probably uttered at least 3 times a day in our conversations (ie. “did you see what Amalah wrote about X?” or when I get a twitter update from you sent to my phone (and I don’t even twitter… I made an account purely to follow your hilarity) and my sister says “who was that?” and I say Amalah, casually, because we’re bffs).

My sister already sent you an email a couple of days ago, the gist of which was something like, “I’m pregnant, I’ve always wanted to be pregnant, I am so excited that I’m pregnant, but I feel SO FAT that it’s taking the fun away and I’m far more miserable about pregnancy than I am ecstatic. What to do, what to do, Amalah?”

And my question is… COULD YOU PLEASE ANSWER HER?

I kind of doubt that she was able to convey how miserable her pregnancy is making her simply because she cannot handle gaining weight. It’s not just that she looks in the mirror and is like UGH gross, and puts on her clothes and moves on. She dwells. She spends insane amounts of time in her closet every morning, in tears and then calls me, in tears. And it’s not like once she is dressed she is okay. She is bothered throughout the day by how big she thinks she is. I can’t tell her enough how adorable and cute I think she is pregnant. But nothing gets through to her.

And by the way, she IS adorable. I don’t just think that because she’s my sister. But she is one of those pregnant people that you see at Target and you nudge your friend to look at her because she’s THAT cute. I know you do that Amalah. I mean, she’s not Heidi Klum tiny or anything, but she’s perfectly normal and cute. You can’t tell she is pregnant from behind, she’s small everywhere else.

This is the longest question ever… in short: my sister’s heart is aching. And it’s making my heart ache. Please, how can she feel more comfortable with pregnancy? And what can I do to help?

Answer me or her and we’ll die happy,

Sara


I’m standing by my gut feeling here: Stop fighting the feelings. Stop battling how you feel vs. how you think you should feel. You’re not a bad pregnant lady because you feel fat and huge and all sorts of adjectives.

Since neither you nor your sister mentioned any impact your feelings are having on your eating habits, I have to assume that you at least aren’t struggling with disordered eating or attempting to actively restrict your weight gain. Although that’s sadly not that uncommon either. Quick and dirty research into the world of eating disorders during pregnancy gave me some statistics of 15% to 20% of pregnant women engage in some kind of disordered eating (either calorie restriction or binging/purging). If this is you, well…that’s NOT OKAY, and you need to talk to your doctor ASAP before this becomes less about “I feel big and gross” and more about placental abruption or low-birth weight or early-onset osteoporosis.

But I also got a handy secondary statistic: 80% of pregnant women report moderate to severe dissatisfaction with their bodies. This isn’t awesome either, and I’m guessing this number has jumped in recent years thanks to all the tabloid baby-bump coverage and the sense that we’re all supposed to gain weight ONLY in our stomachs and NO WHERE ELSE and then snap back like a rubber band within 24 hours. But if this number brings you a little comfort that you aren’t alone or that unusual or are missing out on enjoying some fictional version of pregnancy that 99% of pregnant women experience, so be it.

Photo by Torsten Mangner

About the author

Amalah

http://www.amalah.com
Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy's daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it's pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to amyadvice@gmail.com.

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.


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46 Responses to “When You Hate Your Pregnant Body”

  1. Olivia Mar 24 at 12:34 pm Reply Reply

    Just want to say Amalah’s suggestions are really great. I particularly like being weighed and not being told the number.
    I saw a midwife and had home visits, so I weighed myself at home. But because I had been weighed in her office on the 1st visit, and scales are always different, I ended up not paying attention to the whole number. Instead, I just kept track of how much was gained between visits. Three pounds one month, two the next, etc. This made it hard for me to know exactly how much I gained because I had to add it up. It really made a difference because I was able to focus on it as healthy weight gain.

  2. Steph Mar 24 at 12:55 pm Reply Reply

    Kellie, you are gorgeous! but I totally know how you feel so give yourself a break and try and enjoy what you can. loves! steph

  3. Stephanie Mar 24 at 1:10 pm Reply Reply

    I was thin before I got pregnant – 5’9″ and 139 pounds. I gained 55 pounds. 55 pounds!!! Most of it was it water retention – I had hobbit feet starting at 20 weeks pregnant. And I birthed a gigantic baby – 9.5 lbs. But because I was eating right and exercising when I could (my back hurt horribly during the second and most of the third trimester, so even walking was pretty painful), I wasn’t that concerned. I really didn’t have any control over the weight gain, so what could I do? It was more me worrying about losing it after. I lost 30 pounds in a week due to water retention and gigantic baby, but the last 25 pounds have taken a while. I shed tears when nothing fit by the time I went back to work. But I’m happy to report that 9 months later, I’ve lost it all. Is my body as in shape as before? No! I still have extra belly flab that seems impossible to kill, but I’m tackling it each day with exercise. What I’m trying to say is — don’t worry! These feelings are normal. And having a baby will be worth it.

  4. albe Mar 24 at 1:15 pm Reply Reply

    I can understand some of these feelings — I kept imagining being a cute pregnant lady with a nice round bump and skinny arms and legs. I was 110 lbs when I got pregnant (I’m short, 5’3″, so I wasn’t skeletal or anything) and then it turned out to be…TWINS! I gained 40 lbs.
    So there was no cute bump and skinny arms and legs. Instead it was cankles and fat thighs and an insanely enormous belly that ultimately engulfed me and ate me up. I never felt cute, I felt huge and fat and whale-like and bizarre, and yeah, that was kind of a bummer.
    But you know what, I think one thing to focus on is that this is all just temporary. You’re supposed to gain weight, it’s healthy and normal, and you’re not going to be pregnant forever! You’ll get your body back. My twins are 2 and I’m back to pre-pregnancy weight. (Won’t go into how my belly looks like an elephant’s knee…) Whenever I feel or felt bad about my body, I focus on the amazing thing that my body did. It grew and nurtured and fed these two children. That is pretty awesome. Your body is doing a wonderful thing, and you need every pound you’re gaining, and so does your baby. It’s supposed to be that way. And it won’t last forever.
    I wish we had more media images of normal pregnant and postpartum women with the normal weight gain. Real people gain weight everywhere, not just in the belly. It’s how we’re supposed to look, and it’s okay.

    • Beth Jan 25 at 9:05 pm Reply Reply

      Elephant knee? HAHA… I know exactly what you mean and I almost peed my pants laughing! Thank you, I needed that! =)

  5. Nora Mar 24 at 1:19 pm Reply Reply

    I gained 50 pounds during my pregnancy.
    10 was in my bra,
    20 baby-related area,
    10 in my face and neck (chins!),
    5 on each ankle/cankle.
    Since the biggest difference was in my face there was no way to conceal. My usual long thin face was round as the moon with 3 chins supporting it. It was ALL water weight. I dropped 20 pounds in the 5 days after birth.
    I fortunately had a husband that told me I was beautiful everyday, some days I could actually believe it.
    I did not own a scale so I could not dwell on the numbers, when I was weighed at the doctor’s, my husband would cheer at the number.
    I did not enjoy being pregnant at all, on the good days I tolerated it.
    I now have the cutest, sweetest, best baby ever (I know everyone says it but mine is best).
    I’m back in most of my old clothes, except bras, there is still a couple extra cups there thanks to breastfeeding.

  6. amie Mar 24 at 1:49 pm Reply Reply

    I think it’s completely normal to feel weird about being so big. You have this idea of how much you should weigh. You have clothes that fit. And then all of a sudden, you’re big, and they don’t fit, and it’s supposed to be that way, and you can’t exactly diet! I think that’s part of what’s weird about it – you’re powerless in a way you weren’t before. You used to be able to notice weight gain, cut back, exercise, and be normal again. But now, those things are (somewhat) off the table.
    Eat healthy, don’t freak out, it’ll all go away after baby is born and you have time and capacity to deal with it. It’s normal. Your body will recover. Don’t fret!

  7. Kellie Mar 24 at 2:12 pm Reply Reply

    Amalah,
    I can’t thank you enough for taking the time to answer my desperate call for help. I’m not sure if it the excitement of you actually responding to me, but I feel 1,000 times better right now. I little bit of the guilt has lifted. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
    Love,
    Kellie

  8. lolismum Mar 24 at 2:13 pm Reply Reply

    I think this has little to do with weight gain anxiety. We all had that of course. I also did not want to know the numbers on the scale once I hit 160. Because I knew I was going to worry about it, but I also knew it was temporary, so why learn and fret about it? But spending hours picking out clothes? Crying about it, calling her sister and crying more about it? I think that is beyond the normal realm of ” my goodness I am a walking minibus, oh well, pass the ice cream” reaction most pregnant women have. I think she needs to see a counselor to see what the deeper issues are. She is only 25 weeks, most of the growth has not even happened yet. If this is how she feels now, oh boy, things can turn really ugly at 36 weeks when she cannot even see her feet.

  9. eva Mar 24 at 2:16 pm Reply Reply

    I am 13ish weeks pregnant with #2 and already hating my thighs and butt, but having gone through this before, I am fairly confident that the weight will come off quickly. I have to be, right? When I trid to do up the size 4 work pants this morning and couldn’t, I have to say it was depressing. It’s hard not to compare to people who were able to sip up pre-pregnancy jeans under their cute bellies right through the second trimester and beyond. The tough thing about a first pregnancy is that you don’t know how it will turn out, and if you’re anything like me, there are a lot of worries going on that are just compounded by the extra poundage. I am definitely less paranoid this time around – the pregnancies have been pretty similar so far, which gives me more of a feeling of control than last time. It is such a tough thing though, starting off small everywhere and having people constantly say you don’t look pregnant from behind, but absolutely knowing you do. I really like the idea of not weighing yourself – I didn’t in pregnancy #1 and am notin #2, and my midwife isn’t either. Unless I start to look huge, she agrees there’s no point, and can eyeball total weight gain at the end if asked to put something on a chart at the hospital. Hope that helps! I have major major scale anxiety, won’t even step on one backwards! Am that neurotic!
    Try to enjoy pregnancy. I didn’t really, and don’t love it this time tons, but am trying. Maybe hit a prenatal yoga class or something – it helps to see lots of different pregnant shapes:)

  10. Cobblestone Mar 24 at 2:26 pm Reply Reply

    I’m out of my depth here, but it is possible that there is something serious going on with her brain chemistry that merits a supported conversation with her doctor where she uses the words to describe herself in her mind? My guess is that her mental vocabulary is much more harsh than what she is willing to admit out loud.
    I have an 19 month old son and I spent every.single.minute of my pregnancy is a black rage about it. Still, we like each other a lot and it works out ok.

  11. andrea Mar 24 at 3:02 pm Reply Reply

    awww.. sweetie.. Please don’t focus on the weight. Eat healthy (but the occasional chocolate cake with extra icing craving is perfectly okay too!) It’s all normal to want and need to eat more. After the baby is born you can work off the weight… no not in a month or two..but in time. But for now do rest.. do eat.. and do sleep! and let others help you. That’s so awesome that your sister cares so much about you.
    and if I recall that 25 week time is a tough period too.. in about a month or so you’ll really begin to show your “bump” and you may not feel so self conscious that people won’t get that you are pregnant not fat.

  12. Della Mar 24 at 3:08 pm Reply Reply

    Oh. My. Goodness.
    The face water retention, for serious, even my NOSE was bigger. I could not stand to see pictures of myself because seriously? MY FREAKING SWEET CUTE BABY BUTTON NOSE was a HUGE MONSTROSITY that just matched my cankles. I have sweet, delicate ankles, shapely legs – one of my best features. But pregnant (and I did it twice) – the ankles stuck out wider than my feet. Plus it HURT. I’m 5’1″ and I made it up to 185 in both pregnancies.
    I look at pictures of myself pregnant and even post-partum a few weeks, and frankly, I STILL think it looks ugly and fat. But the bulk of it (the nose, the cankles) went away. Yeah, I’ve got stretch marks and flab. But I look like myself again, just with stretch marks and flab, and I can fix the flab, when I get around to it.
    And I have two incredibly awesome kids. And once your kid is here? I suspect you’ll still be frustrated with your body, but I hope that, like me, you’ll see WHY you did it and agree that it is worth it. 15 more weeks seems like forever, seems insurmountable, but it isn’t. Just promise us you’ll hang in there.
    PS. at http://imagesbykatherinekhan.com, one of the images I hate the most is in the bellies and babies gallery. Bottom left pic (white sweater & skirt, in front of window) shows up my whole swollen fat self. And she chose it to SHOW OFF in her gallery. (the preceding 5 pix in front of fence and screen, with and w/o hubs, are also me; the first one also shows off my HUGE FAT PREGNANT ARMS, huge nose, triple chins).
    I link it because I hate it. I look at it and STILL think the full body shots are unattractive. But I have an 8×10 of several of these, because it’s a reminder of when I was carrying my son near to my heart, which is precious to me, even if my looks at the time are not.

  13. HereWeGoAJen Mar 24 at 3:15 pm Reply Reply

    I think I gained 45 pounds during pregnancy. (The baby weighed 7 pounds 8 ounces.) I am naturally thin and all (I think 5’7″ and like 130?) and my body just needed that much weight to support a healthy pregnancy. I lost it all afterward without even trying. It sounds to me that you have a similar body type and likely the same thing will happen to you. People who start out thinner need to gain more weight.
    Also, I got all my stretch marks in my butt.

  14. Angela Mar 24 at 3:17 pm Reply Reply

    This is my second pg, and this time it’s twins. I’m already at 27 weeks much bigger than I was at the end of my first pg. For me I’ve always been heavy. Not happily either. I’d finally found out a program that worked for me to lose weight (weightwatchers) and actually LOST 40lbs last summer. Seriously, I weighed in at 40 lost exactly on the day I found out I was pg and had to quit.
    Well now I’ve gained 52 pounds with these twins. For a while, especially before the belly really popped out, I was pretty stressed about it. I’d worked so hard to lose that weight and here it was just piling on faster than I could believe. But then I realized, I’ve lost it before, I know I can lose it again. And this is temporary and for a super good cause!
    Grab that pregnant belly and relish the goddess of fertility you are right now! In a few months you’ll be staring down at your flattened tummy and missing the kicks and movements that you’d gotten so used to. It’s going to be over before you know it.
    And if you haven’t already, go out and get some cute maternity clothes! Nothing makes you feel cute and pg more than cute pg clothes. It’s not the same as wearing your old pms clothes or husband’s stuff. Go all out and get the maternity undies, pants and shirts, even a dress or two. It’s totally worth it.
    And most of all…Congratulations!

  15. Jamie Mar 24 at 4:53 pm Reply Reply

    I completely understand. I am pregnant with my second and I lost 15 pounds on top of the weight from the last pregnancy which was a 40 pound gain. I almost cracked 200 pounds at the end there. My ankles were the size of my thighs with water retainage. I was not a happy camper.
    I had worked my ass off with a personal trainer, done food diaries, etc. to get to where I was and then I got pregnant and…BAM 10 pound gain at 16 weeks so far. Sigh.
    The best attitude is one that incorporates the need and want to eat healthy and to exercise and then to know that you only have so much control. Your body will decide what it needs and you have to let it. Thank goodness it is only temporary and move on. Find a new obsession such as the nursery, buying tiny little clothes, whatever.

  16. Mia Mar 24 at 5:47 pm Reply Reply

    I think it gets better as you go. I know that sounds crazy, but I’m 36 weeks right now and earlier on I just felt I just looked fat not really even pregnant. Now in relation to my ginormous pregnant belly everything looks cute and small. Even my thunderous thighs and chubby upper arms which I have always hated look so much thinner. Seriously a couple of my friends have asked if my boobs have gotten smaller. LOL, that would be a no, up two sizes already!

  17. Beth Mar 24 at 5:52 pm Reply Reply

    I have to say, I think perhaps this dear woman should seek an outside ear. This kind of weight obsession could spiral into an eating disorder. You don’t have to ADORE your pregnancy body, but dwelling day in and day out is not a healthy outlook and it concerns me.

  18. pseudostoops Mar 24 at 6:22 pm Reply Reply

    I just want to second what Cobblestone said. Kellie sounds like such a lovely person and this sounds so painful- talking to a doctor about how low this is making her feel seems like it falls into the “can’t hurt, might help” category.

  19. Themoira Mar 24 at 10:35 pm Reply Reply

    I was pregnant this time last year and I definitely had some body image issues as well. I had set a strict budget for maternity clothes (must save money for cute baby clothes), but in the end I splurged on some super cute spring dresses and adorable sweaters. This made all the difference for me. I felt a more polished, pulled together, and I loved all the compliments I received.
    It’s one of those little things that can go a long way. (Also, sunless tanner and pedicures, those help too).

  20. Karen Mar 24 at 11:25 pm Reply Reply

    Second, and third the suggestions to get a few new items of clothing that flatter whatever new shape you have. I have always been athletic and trim, gained 35 lbs during preg and have had a very difficult time losing the last 10 pounds. I struggle much more with body image now, several months post-partum, than I ever did while I was pregnant.
    Mixing in some new posh items plus some cute shoes and earrings really goes a long way in preventing me from clobbering the super skinny moms who wore their wedding rings 2 days after giving birth.

  21. Nicole R. Mar 25 at 12:44 am Reply Reply

    I am skinny. I weighed 115 pounds at 5’7″ when I got pregnant with my first kid. When my thighs started to get big, I freaked out. I had never felt fat before. My OB smiled tolerantly and said, “You’re building a house for your baby.”
    I’ve had two kids now, and I gained over 50 pounds with each one. I am a healthy eater, so clearly my body just needed to do it that way. Like you, I had gained over 20 pounds of it by week 25. And you know what? I lost it all. I weigh less than 110 pounds now, 14 months after my last birth.
    I agree with many of the points of previous posters, especially (1) early to mid-point in my first pregnancy was the hardest on my body image, because my thighs were fat but my belly wasn’t yet big and glorious; (2) also at that time neither my regular nor maternity clothes fit quite right, and I found that ill-fitting clothes made me feel worse; and (3) if you’re weeping regularly, talk to a professional.

  22. professormama Mar 25 at 1:30 am Reply Reply

    YOU DON”T HAVE TO LIKE BEING PREGNANT. Seriously, it has no bearing on you as a person, or the goodness of you’re mothering, at all.
    I have done it twice, both times pretty much sucked from my point of view- no complications, no real hassles, but I hated it.
    It was inconvenient and uncomfortable, and I gained weight, and I did not enjoy it.
    It’s normal to not enjoy feeling like you’re in someone else’s body.
    The best way to look at it is, you kind of are in someone else’s body, because now you are sharing your body with someone else.
    I weigh 122 pounds, I am 5’9″, this is my natural pre and post baby weight, I am not very curvy, but I gained 40 pounds both times I was pregnant, it was weird.
    No matter how much people said I looked great or my husband enjoyed my new curves, I hated it, I didn’t feel like myself.
    It took 4 months for me to get back to my normal size/weight after each baby (with no exercise, just nursing on demand and eating for nursing which means a TON of eating).
    Keep focused on eating healthy for yourself and your baby, eat things you crave (in moderation if they are not the most nutritious choices) and remind yourself that someone else is living in your body, and so you have to get all weird shaped and you don’t have to like it, but you do have to roll with it.
    You will return to you’re former self, it may take 6 months post baby to get there, but you’ll make it.
    Also try not to look at your ass in mirrors to much, it helped me.

  23. wallydraigle Mar 25 at 2:00 am Reply Reply

    It’s funny. My first pregnancy, I gained 40 pounds. I got up to 185, and I’m 5’5″ (I’ve always looked thinner than I really am, so 145 looked more like 135). And I looked FABULOUS. If I do say so myself. All boobs and belly, great skin, and I felt great. I don’t remember ever feeling that good in my life, not even when I was swimming or playing soccer year-round.
    Second pregnancy, I gained 6 pounds total. I was still working on the baby weight from my first (they were only 17 months apart). I was still breastfeeding at the time, and I dropped 12 pounds in about a month. And then I had terrible food aversions (like, DAYS went by where all I could eat was lettuce), and my baby stopped sleeping all of a sudden for no apparent reason and didn’t start again for five or six months. I was tired, I was hungry, I was stressed out. I think I gained about a pound in my third trimester.
    And? I was NOT cute. At least, I didn’t think so. And comparing pictures from the two pregnancies, I can see that I looked much, much better the first time around. Why? Because I was tired, hungry, and stressed out. It showed in my face and in the way I carried myself. I didn’t walk around feeling miserable all day, but I didn’t feel fabulous, either. Or cute or pretty or anything. There was a bit of the still-recovering-from-first-baby thing, but I think mostly it was the way I felt.
    This sounds cliche, but it’s true: weight is just a number (sometimes that number tells you you’re unhealthy, sure, but 20 pounds? TOTALLY NORMAL). It doesn’t tell you how you carry it or where your body stores it, and it has nothing to do with how you feel, which is really what shows the most. Your body is doing an amazing thing right now. It’s doing what it’s meant to do. Like growing hair or fingernails or boobs.

  24. bo-peep Mar 25 at 5:07 am Reply Reply

    look, i hate it when people pathologise feeling crappy about crappy things (and for some people pregnancy totally falls into this category)…but…hmmm….something here really bothers me. Just feels wrong.
    SO i thought i should mention that ante-natal depression is MORE common than post-natal depression but ridiculously under-diagnosed and a chat with your midwife/obstetrician about current mood could be helpful. Because a blah pregnancy is ok… a traumatic, teary, depressed pregnancy on the other hand is a high risk factor for PND and no-one wants to go there.

  25. evaling Mar 25 at 5:59 am Reply Reply

    I completely agree with Themoira above: go out and find something cute to wear!
    I had a hard time when I first fell pregnant and seemed to gain 8-10 lbs instantly! I was always thin, 5.9 about 137 lbs, so nothing to complain about, but it’s true that this time when you gain weight there’s really not much you should do about it! So yes I felt out of control (though I was one of the lucky ones before that basically stayed the same weight always unless I really overate or had to take antidepressants and gained 20 pounds – anyway) and that had something to do with it. And yes, I felt guilty about it! even though I knew it was all for a good cause and it’s just my body taking what it needs and if that means more cakes, clearly my body needs more energy!
    I noticed that the weight gain also subsided a bit around in the later stages of the 2nd trimester. I guess when you start out thin, your body just immediately starts putting on the necessary reserves.
    But one day, I would think about week 25 I was so fed up with it, I went out into town, not feeling good about myself AT ALL. I came across a winter coat. A normal winter coat that was just my style but cut in an A-line, and I just went up a size from my normal size and I bought it and it made all the difference! Normal clothes still fit me! Suddenly I felt human again and I was a new woman.
    My bump is still growing into that coat, I’m 37.5 weeks now and I’m amazed very day that things can still get bigger, but i clearly look pregnant now, not just fat and hey, it’ll be over soon and worth it, right? take care!!!

  26. Alison C Mar 25 at 6:48 am Reply Reply

    BEST SISTER EVER!!!!
    That’s all I can add to this subject.

  27. Liz Mar 25 at 9:15 am Reply Reply

    The rate of weight gain also really slows in the second half of your pregnancy, so having gained 20 pounds now does not necessarily mean you’ll gain another 20 (if that’s what’s freaking you out in part). And like another poster said, very soon you’ll change from awkward-looking to the cute baby bump you were expecting.

  28. sarah Mar 25 at 10:46 am Reply Reply

    Oh I needed to read this. I’m 27 weeks, and fixated on a number as my max for wt gain, but working on letting it go (long standing issues with weight & body image). I’ve never been so thankful that I was a healthy eater & exerciser before I got pregnant, otherwise I would be a severe TCBY & french fry overeater, and couch potato. But because I know how much better I feel after good meals and workouts, I’m strongly encouraging myself in that direction as often as possible, with lots of resting when I feel like it.
    After years of struggles with body image, I also have an awareness of when the issue of clothes looking good/bad is me, and when it is the cut of the clothes. I’m sad to say that the options for maternity wear these days are pathetic or out of my price range. The materials, cut and quality are awful, most items feature a bow somewhere or are patterned with flowers/butterflies, and there are few items that allow you to be pregnant with some dignity. When I’m upset about not looking good these days, it’s partially because I feel like I’m carrying this child in my butt & thighs (getting some spring sun on my legs will help!) but also because I’m not dressing like *myself* I’m dressing in what is available. The Gap maternity section has been a lifesaver, but they only carry so much. Any other suggestions as to where to shop?

  29. Gaby Mar 25 at 10:55 am Reply Reply

    I might go so far as to suggest that it’s not only the media’s incomplete portrayal of post-pregnancy weight loss that influences us pregnant ladies on what is “typical;” I’d say that the medical profession has also contributed to this by saying that a woman should gain ONLY 30 pounds total (and that’s only if she was a “normal” weight prior to becoming pregnant).
    I, too, have gained 20 pounds by 25 weeks, and although I’ve been feeling comfortable with the extra weight and how I look, I found myself suddenly a bit concerned at the idea of only adding ten pounds over the course of the remaining 15 weeks, especially since those are the weeks when the baby packs on most of its weight.
    I asked my midwife about it, and she said that as long as there was no indication of gestational diabetes and I was eating pretty well, I shouldn’t be concerned about it. If I went to a doctor or midwife that subscribed to the idea that anything over 30 pounds = DOOM, I might be feeling a bit crummy about the weight situation.
    So, I’m putting that in as another influence on a woman’s (not necessarily the letter writer, mind you) feelings about gaining weight. I deeply feel that some women are just set at a different pregnancy weight gain point, that that’s how their body works, and that that is ok. Just try and be healthy in all ways.

  30. cindy Mar 25 at 11:46 am Reply Reply

    This is more for the sister – make sure they don’t do the belly-measuring game at the baby shower. Some people think it’s fun, but from my perspective (pregnant with twins and ENORMOUS), it was just humiliating.

  31. MommiePie Mar 25 at 12:02 pm Reply Reply

    I was just going to suggest trying to shift your focus toward growing a baby. You have to gain weight to nourish a healthy baby. All of that weight is for a very important reason. And, after you have the baby, focus on the baby. Don’t focus on your belly or your thighs or whatever because yes, they will be all jacked up for awhile. But, if you just focus your energy on what is most important – your health and the baby’s health, and trying to learn how to feed the baby and not forgetting to feed yourself and changing diapers and trying to figure out how to swaddle and trying to sleep and maybe take a shower…the weight will take care of itself. It will. It will.

  32. Anonymous Mar 25 at 12:05 pm Reply Reply

    Oh girl. First pg- little exercise 52 lbs on my 5/10 frame. 2nd pg-crazy exercise, really watched the food, um 49 lbs, 3rd pg too busy to notice what I was doing eh 56 lbs. Beeboo now 3 months old, about 10 lbs to go, buuuut, man my midsection looks a wreck- now I kind of miss the bump.

  33. Marnie Mar 25 at 2:51 pm Reply Reply

    I completely agree with bo-peep. This doesn’t come off to me as just a normal “I’m not a happy pregnant woman” – the fact that being upset over the weight gain is overshadowing the good parts indicates that this is a bigger issue, and she should really talk to a doctor about it.

  34. HomeValley Mar 25 at 3:53 pm Reply Reply

    Oh, Kellie, I just want to hug you! I am almost 32 weeks with my first, and I started this pregnancy at about 137, 5’7″… I gained 6 pounds the first 4 months, got cocky, and then gained 10 pounds in 4 weeks. And then… Another 10 pounds in 4 weeks. And then… another 7 in 6 weeks… That’s a grand total of 33 so far, and I tell you, sister: I exercise. I feel like I actually eat less now than before I was pregnant. I also eat organically and try to avoid sweets (though I am not perfect). I FEEL YOUR PAIN!
    Thing is, I think I look pretty healthy. My nurse practitioner has said: be at peace with it. As long as you are doing the right things, just let your body be your guide. I am sure I will end up over 40 pounds heavier at the end of this, and I am okay with that. I walk everyday and huff and puff like a Biggest Loser contestant, but I believe that this is my body on pregnancy. And it is gorgeous and healthy!

  35. JCF Mar 27 at 11:35 pm Reply Reply

    If it helps, my midwife told me that women who are on the thinner side before pregnancy tend to gain more during pregnancy. Those maternal stores Amy mentioned? You didn’t have a whole lot to begin with stored up, so your body needs them now. If you hear someone who started out heavier than you tell you they only gained 20 pounds total, or something like that, remember that they started with those maternal stores already in place!

  36. Cory May 10 at 10:34 pm Reply Reply

    Before becoming pregnant again, baby number four, I worked hard to eat right and exercise and lose over 80 pounds.  I kept it off for over a year and then I found out I was pregnant.  I was so hoping to be cute and pregnant this time, but I have gained so much weight that I look nearly as bad as I did before all the work, I feel.  I hate the way I look and am becoming so very depressed.  It feels like a huge weight around my neck that is so heavy that all I really do is lay around and eat.  I am getting to the point that I don’t want anyone to see me.  To make things worse i have the intense feeling that I want to do something that makes a difference, but am too tired and depressed to do really anything.  What do I do, seriously?

  37. Alexandra Nov 21 at 5:05 am Reply Reply

    Hey I was just stopping by to ask how to deal with people who annoy you during your pregnancy and not be rude?

    Its happened a couple of times where I want to keep on having a conversation with a group of friends but there is that one friend that is so annoying. And its funny because my baby starts to move as if she doesn’t like the person herself. So what can I do to handle that specific person? Please help

    Lots of love
    Alexandra

  38. Nelle Dec 20 at 6:37 pm Reply Reply

    I’m so glad I’ve found this. I’m not alone! I’m 23 weeks and I’ve gained about 9.5kgs. I’ve always had issues but now I feel absolutely disgusting – stretch marks coming in, no clothes fit, I look like a bus… Ugh. I’m 155cm tall and weighed 48kgs before I got pregnant- a number I controlled possibly obsessively. I thought I’d be fine since I’m having a baby and I know it’s all good, but I feel awful about myself! I don’t want people to see me, especially my partner. He works in the beauty industry and all I can think is that he’ll hate how I look. I’m cry basically everyday about my new body. I’m too scared to tell anyone how I feel because I’m supposed to be happy about it. I know I’ll love my little girl (I already do!) but it’s so hard to cope with my body.

    • Isabel Kallman
      Isabel Kallman Dec 20 at 6:42 pm Reply Reply

      Nelle,

      Congratulations on your pregnancy.

      I am so sorry that you are having a hard time. Remember what miraculous things your body is doing right now. I would also recommend seeing someone if your feelings are interfering with spending time with your partner or coping in general.

      Isabel

  39. Nelle Dec 29 at 5:10 am Reply Reply

    Thanks, Isabel. It is hard and I have thought about getting some counselling or something, but admitting I’m not coping so publicly is something I wanted to avoid. I’ve tried talking to my partner but he doesn’t seem to get how hard I find it and just says don’t worry about it. I’ve basically avoided letting him see my body – especially undressed. I don’t avoid him, I just try and hide my stomach, either with clothes, my handbag or a cushion or something. I just feel so ugly. I don’t know how to ask for help in this because everyone expects me to be so happy that I’m getting bigger and people say such rude things without realising, like ‘oh look at that layer of baby fat you’ve got!’ – not too great for the self esteem.

  40. Rachel Mar 24 at 1:04 pm Reply Reply

    I have already had to re-read this article several times. I’ve been brought to tears most mornings when getting dressed because of how terrible I feel about myself. I’m only 12 weeks and have gained 10 pounds. When I got pregnant I was 126lbs at 5’5” (I was in GREAT shape, not skinny). I was FIT. I had six pack abs. I was the one other ladies wanted to look like. And I worked my butt off to get there and stay there. My diet was 1500-1800 cals a day and I trained hard. Now I’m struggling and trying so hard to feel good about this weight gain, but it’s not easy at all. I’m hoping it will be like some of the other commenters have said and slow down soon. 

  41. Jenn Apr 11 at 8:31 pm Reply Reply

    I cried. Not like a “I’m so depressed” cry. But everything you said.. I felt. I’ve been so scared but feeling so guilty. Will be reading your arrivals again, I can’t thank you enough.

  42. Amanda Apr 13 at 7:47 pm Reply Reply

    Thank you everyone for this, except for the few people who made it sound  like this girl has issues. She may, but they are no different than your issue that you are obsessing around.  I am 23 weeks and off on a trip this week and find myself stressing daily about my weight. I have professional help, i meditate and exercise daily but it is hard gaining so much weight and hearing about how happy I should be.  

    We are all different. I agree with the fact that we just have feelings about it. It doesnt mean anything about you as a woman, a friend, or anything else.  Sometimes for me it is blocking the real fears of ‘no one will love me post baby….or my husband will be grossed out….or i will be in so much pain of self hate that i will explode’.
    I also want so badly to be a good example for my daughter….so all i can say is that i am going through this as gracefully as possible. I see my issues come up and try to let them pass like thoughts on the ocean. I use my support network and I know that most things I have feared dont happen and that i will be able to deal with whatever does.
    I really love you and am sending warm kindness your way –I know your pain and its ok to have it.  Its human. xo

  43. Rachel May 17 at 12:09 pm Reply Reply

    Like most other commenters, I am so glad I found this list of women who feel like I do. Before getting pregnant, I was in the best shape of my life at 5’7″ and 140 pounds. I’ve struggled with eating disorders for years and was finally in a good place. Now, I am 20 weeks pregnant and have gained 23 pounds already. It’s so hard to reconcile that number when the baby isn’t even a pound yet… and it’s my maternal stores that are splurging. I see it in my arms and my face every day and I am obsessed with what others must be thinking. Oh, she is eating way too much. She is letting herself go free! I eat healthily and exercise (was running up until last week) but I won’t lie, a indulge in a lot of snacking.

    Before becoming pregnant I lived my life in a constant state of “reduction” — even if I over-ate I had a plan to balance it our the next day. I can’t eat like a normal person… and now that Im trying, I feel like a failure.

    It’s funny to think that other people would obsess over my weight, when it’s really just me. I am struggling with wanting to look good for a normal person, and not for a pregnant person. I want those skinny arms and legs, and that huge belly… but what I’m getting is chunky everywhere.

    Thankfully I have a wonderful husband and OB who tell me I have nothing to worry about. I’ll probably gain 40 lbs by the time I deliver. Is it true that it becomes harder to eat in your 3rd trimester? That’s what I’, counting on!

  44. Nelle Sep 09 at 7:15 pm Reply Reply

    My baby is nearly 5 months old now, and I am still struggling, but perhaps weirdly it makes me feel a bit better to know that there are other people who have felt and do feel the same as I did/do. It’s a massive change in your life and of course your body changes too. Learning to cope with this, however, isn’t easy. Seeing millions of magazines screaming ‘HOW FEMALE CELEBRITY BLAH GOT HER BODY BACK!!’ does not help at all. In fact, I’ve come to realise I still have a body that functions – it’s just a different shape. I think I’m doing ok, but I know I’ll never get the same body back – ever. I was an AU size 6, and I probably won’t be ever again. C-section scars do not disappear, and nor do the other things that I’ve gained along the way. We all need to learn to love ourselves. This will be a long journey for all of us. And Rachel, yes it does get harder to eat (or at least it did for me, but I struggled to keep anything down the whole way through due to almost extreme ‘morning’ sickness). But by that stage, you’ll probably be so focused on your child that it won’t matter so much. What I’m trying to say is that it (kind of?) gets better, hang in there, and you’re all beautiful.

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