Loving the Pregnant Me
Despite the fact that I had morning sickness and heartburn for a good part of nine months and packed 40 pounds on my normally size-2 body, there were a few things I loved about being pregnant.
The first: My skin never looked better. As soon as my stomach popped, my acne-prone, dull, and pale complexion was suddenly clear and radiant (not to toot my own horn or anything). Having skin as smooth and flawless as, well, a baby's (not to mention all the compliments I was getting) made the not-so-pretty parts of pregnancy more bearable.
Here, nine other reasons why you'll love being a mom-in-the-making.
2. You don't have to obsess.
Thoughts of fitting into your skinny jeans go out the window. In fact, this is a time when you're supposed to gain weight. Amy Devigne, of New York City, says she's always been a healthy eater, but her pregnancy with her son, Jack, now 8 months, "was the first time I can remember not worrying about how much I ate." Plus, she adds, "I loved the expandable waistbands in maternity pants!" Heck, even ice cream isn't so bad, since you need the extra calcium for your baby and yourself.
3. You're supposed to rest.
Your body is like a factory working hard to create a new life, and that's an exhausting endeavor. "When you're pregnant, the amount of water in your body increases by 50 percent, and your blood volume increases by 40 percent. Carrying all that extra fluid around as well as the additional weight you gain can make you tired," explains Jill Maura Rabin, MD, assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Albert Einstein Medical School, in New York City. "You also get tired because pregnant women are naturally a little bit anemic." So put your feet up, tune in to Oprah, and enjoy a midday siesta. You deserve it.
4. Total strangers look at you.
Despite the roller coaster of emotions that pregnancy brings, there's a mood boost that many of us get that's like no other. Little compares to the excitement and anticipation of what's to come. And it's not just your mood that gets a lift. As your belly grows, you'll notice that other people look at you in an endearing way -- something that doesn't always happen in our busy world. "When I was pregnant with my second child, I was in the mall during the holidays," says Lisa Carey, a mother of two, in Chatham, New Jersey. "A woman walking by looked at my huge belly, and a big smile spread across her face. I couldn't help but smile back."
5. You get VIP treatment.
When people see your growing belly, they often roll out the red carpet. I was regularly offered seats on subways, something that had never happened in my 20 years of living in New York City. And many times when I was in an endless line for the ladies' room, say at the mall or at a concert, a woman ahead of me would usher me right up to the front. Usually she'd do so with a knowing look and a comment like, "I remember how badly I had to go when I was pregnant," as others in line nodded in agreement. Other VIP perks can include doors being held open for you, prime parking spots, and help carrying heavy packages.
Body, Beauty, and Baby
6. Your complexion may improve.
While some pregnant women battle acne, many others, like me, reap benefits: "Moms-to-be who have better skin can thank an increase in hormones for their smoother complexion," says Ranella Hirsch, MD, vice president of the American Society of Cosmetic Dermatology and Aesthetic Surgery. And what about the radiance I experienced? "The rosy glow you can get is caused by an increase in blood volume in your body while you're pregnant, which means the skin gets more oxygen and circulation."
7. Your breasts get bigger.
For those of us born with A and B cups, pregnancy is a chance to see how the other half lives. "I loved my bigger chest," says Jeanine Boiko, a mother from Levittown, New York. "I'm not naturally well endowed, so it was nice to have some cleavage during and shortly after giving birth to my son." This extra volume is caused by an increase in total body water and extra pounds, and by your breast tissue growing as it prepares to hold milk once your little one arrives.
8. Good hair (and nail) days abound.
"When you're pregnant, everything in your body is growing more quickly due to increased hormone levels, and that includes your nails and hair," says Dr. Hirsch. Plus you lose fewer hairs each day when you're expecting, which makes your tresses appear thicker and fuller. What's more, formerly thin or brittle nails may actually get stronger. That's what happened to Mara Stern. "My nails never looked better than during my second pregnancy," says this mother of two from Boca Raton, Florida. "I didn't even need to wear polish or get manicures."
9. Sex can be better.
Though sexual desire during pregnancy varies for each woman, 31 percent of women report a libido lift, according to an americanbaby.com poll. One reason is the increased blood flow to the pelvic area (also called engorgement) that some women say boosts their sexual response and makes sex more satisfying. This is especially true during the second trimester. A bonus: This heightened sensitivity ups the chance of having an orgasm. Pregnancy also causes an increase in vaginal secretions, and this boost in lubrication may make intercourse more comfortable.
10. You've got a secret.
There's nothing quite as exciting as walking around, not yet looking pregnant but knowing that you've got a little person growing inside of you. "When I was pregnant with my first child, I could be standing in line at the grocery store, grabbing a smoothie, or talking with the UPS delivery person, and a wave of happiness would wash over me and make me smile," says Vicki Stern-Brown, a mother of two from Atlanta. "No one else knew why I was smiling, but it was an exciting, happy, giddy kind of secret that's really like nothing else."
Freelance writer Michele Bender lives in New York City with her husband and two children.
Originally published in American Baby magazine, February 2007.
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