The Truth About Pregnancy Pounds

While I can joke about my pregnancy weight gain, I thought it only fair to be completely candid about the mental battle with pregnancy pounds in an attempt to acknowledge and commend all my pregnant friends who struggle like I do at times, to love their changing bodies.

Body image is a large component of the nine-month wait and while intellectually most know that weight gain is positive, some days it is just not easy to accept one’s expanding figure.

I have a strict policy that I don’t look at my weight, ever. Aside from the doctor’s office, I don’t step on scales.

Being pregnant requires that I step on a scale at regular appointments, but I always turn around so I don’t see my weight. My doctor and I have an understanding that we don’t discuss weight gain unless it is medically necessary. I have no idea what I gained with my first pregnancy except that it fell into the “healthy range.” I plan to do the same with this pregnancy.

The habit of no numbers and scales is one I have cultivated after many years of beating myself up for what the scale did read. I have discovered that no good comes from them. If the number is too high, I berate myself. If the number is low, I think of a myriad of ways to keep it low. This is why scales and I have parted. It is a no win situation.

During pregnancy and post-pregnancy there is so much pressure surrounding weight. The media perpetually reports about and flogs stars for “letting themselves go” during pregnancy, yet eagerly applauds them when they shed the baby weight and walk the runway with a “perfect post-pregnancy figure” just two months postpartum. It’s devastating, unrealistic, and harmful.

There is so much pressure to look a certain way. During postpartum recovery the nurses continually commented on how small I was and how I’d fit into my regular jeans in no time. While I enjoyed the flattery, it also made me uncomfortable that these were the most readily available compliments. It only adds fuel to the body image fire. Instead, I truly relished the compliments about our adorable baby and sweet family.

It is also frustrating that the amount one gains during pregnancy is a source of competition. Women congratulate each other or smugly compare notes regarding who gained the least. No good comes from this either. I think it should be outlawed to talk weight with other women.

There are so many things women give up during pregnancy. While it is overly apparent that one’s body is sacrificed, it is not always discussed how much mental anxiety this places on women. I have been very fortunate to run for the last 25 weeks of this pregnancy. I was unable to run that long with my first. I know my running days are numbered however. I feel anxious about giving up running and I’m afraid of the mental war it will wage. It makes me admire the women who are put on bed-rest and the inner struggle some face to wonder and worry at how their body will change. Pregnancy requires much sacrifice and it is most definitely worth it, but sometimes, amidst pressure, hormones, and the day-to-day work of growing a baby, it is hard to remember that.

I think the difficulty of letting go of control and embracing one’s pregnant body is a common but not always acceptable topic. It may be viewed as superficial, but it is truly valid because of the conflicting messages to simply “love whatever skin you’re in.” Women are told the pregnant body is beautiful, but society outlines a very specific type of pregnant body that is beautiful and doesn’t truly celebrate the different ways bodies carry babies. It’s too much about numbers and looks.

While some women more easily accept their changing bodies, others struggle for longer. It took me five years to mentally prepare for the uncontrollable nature of pregnancy and the acceptance that having a baby was worth sacrificing my body. I feel selfish and embarrassed admitting that, but it is the truth. The journey to embrace one’s pregnant body is different for everyone, but my hope is that all come to a place of confidence and gratitude for their bodies.

Some days I am love what my body is doing. Other days I struggle to love my new curves or stretch marks. When I am in my head a little too much, when I let the superficiality consume me, I look at my daughter. Her innocent, inquisitive voice calms the negative voice in my head and really does remind me that this job of mothering isn’t about me or my looks. I would endure anything for her and the sweet babe in my belly. And even though it isn’t always easy, I know I can and will and want to endure and embrace it all.

Image: Bathroom scale via trekandshoot/

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  1. by gm

    On November 6, 2012 at 8:31 am

    While every body and individual pregnancy is different I truly believe you can make pregnancy work for you. I think I was the healthiest I have ever been while pregnant: no alcohol, diligent about the diet, committed to exercise to prevent extra weight and swelling. The payoff: not a tone of weight gained and the delivery wasn’t so rough.

    Candidly, I enjoyed not having to suck in my stomach all the time.

  2. by Bekka Besich

    On November 6, 2012 at 8:36 am

    I agree wholeheartedly that being healthy during pregnancy makes all the difference. I’m glad it had such a payoff for you. I also most definitely like not having to suck in my stomach all the time. Major perk. Well shared!

  3. by Ashley F

    On November 19, 2012 at 4:16 pm

    I love how honest (I assume) you are Bekka! Weight gain was such a struggle with me through my pregnancies and while I was OK with it while I was pregnant, I am less so now that I’m done. I curse myself for the pounds packed on. It’s a daily struggle to be OK with myself. I do my best to remember everything I do/say my children are seeing and will affect them, hopefully it is a struggle I win!

  4. by Kim

    On November 19, 2012 at 10:58 pm

    I lose weight in my first trimester and I still have a terrible time dealing with my image. My husband jokes that its all passenger, not fat, so we should put an S.S. in front of my name.
    I don`t do scales either, I count my clothing size. As long as I`m within 2 sizes of my high school size I`m happy.