Ya Look Good Girl

Molly Smith Photography
Pregnancy—the mother of all rollercoasters. What an amazing gift to experience but what a toll it takes on the body! Our culture, especially among certain social classes, makes no secret of how crucial it is to be skinny, tight, and fit before, during, and after pregnancy. Why is there such pressure put on women? It makes me cringe at the comments I hear people make about other women, especially during a time they are growing another human life within. And don’t think this is a fat girl post, this is for all you naturally skinny gals too!

 Let me start with a little background of my experience with body image. I am tall, always have been--5’9 to be exact.  I was always naturally thin, never worked out or watched how I ate. Then, college happened. I ate late night taco bell, indulged in a happy hour or two, and let my sleep patterns transform me into a lazy sloth aside from going to class and socializing. No shame, I enjoyed college and hey, those are the years to live that type of lifestyle right? Well, while I enjoyed college and all the socializing that came along with it, I gained 45 pounds by the end of it all. 45 pounds!! I was super self conscious and it caused a lot of anxiety within me. Besides the fact that I just felt gross, I felt extremely frustrated because when I would try to “diet” nothing would work. This was a blessing in disguise because now I have more sympathy for people who are overweight where as before I was the person snarking and saying go work out or push back from the table.

A few months after graduating college I found out I was pregnant with a little boy. And oh boy was I worried about gaining a ton of weight on top of what I had already gained in college. My pregnancy story isn’t traditional so I was dealing with the pressure of worrying what all the nasty girls and heartless boys would be saying behind my back each month that passed. Amazingly enough weight wasn’t an issue for me. Now, I know this sounds crazy but I only gained 8 pounds total during pregnancy. No, I am not lying. And no, I didn’t diet or exercise excessively. I am not quite sure how it happened but I guess changing my lifestyle to healthy eating, regular sleeping schedule, and mild exercise was exactly what I needed. Don’t let me fool you, I think being 5’9 and baby having that extra room to lay helped me too! I entered the hospital weighing 186 pounds and I currently weigh 140 pounds. Nursing sucked it right out of me and I had no issue losing the weight after my little Hutton was born. Hope baby #2 is just as easy!! Fingers crossed but it will be fine if not. I am comfortable now in my own skin and it is a great feeling. I am still not a stick and probably never will be but I am okay with that and that is what matters, be you and be comfortable with whatever weight you feel the best.
Before Pregnancy (College)

9 Months Pregnant

9 Months Postpartum

 With all of that being said, I know many other womens stories are not that simple. Many, many women struggle with weight gain during and after pregnancy. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that and you shouldn’t be ashamed at all. There is so much pressure on looking like victoria secret models through life and it just isn’t ideal. There is too little attention paid to the vital reasons our bodies morph during pregnancy and then hold onto baby weight for a period of time. This is such a miracle and we need to appreciate it and stop allowing people to criticize the process! Pregnancy is such a rollercoaster with emotions, weight gain doesn’t need to be added to those emotions. Pregnancy and the months following are crucial times for women, for most of us it is the first time in our lives we muster up the courage to acknowledge that we have to let go of controlling everything. We are having to let go control over the body for 9 months and then control over “getting back” the body post labor. We must quite striving for an image of perfection, our babies don’t need us stressing over the impossible, find a healthy place where you are the best you and enjoy that place!

My 4 suggestions for you mama:

1.      Acknowledge the Transformation – You are pregnant. You are going to gain weight. Be okay with it, it is part of the process! Enjoy the time but don’t over indulge on the food cravings. Remember, whatever you gain you’ll want to lose eventually so just keep the food intake reasonable. Don’t binge eat but don’t restrict yourself from those sweet cravings either! You deserve a treat!
2.     Be Confident – We as humans benefit greatly from being nice to ourselves. Look in the mirror and do a silly belly dance with that baby every morning and tell yourself how good you look! How you perceive yourself is how the rest of the world will perceive you. Let them see the real you! The beautiful you, whether you are 250 pounds or 120 pounds.
3.     Body Acceptance – The more you resist the plethora of changes that are happening to your body the harder it is going to be for you to enjoy pregnancy. Worrying about the changes won’t stop them from happening so embrace the stretch marks and swelling, it may be the only chance you ever have at growing a miracle inside of you! What a blessing it is! Keep your eye on the prize, your baby.
4.    Be the Mom You Want Your Child to Know – Be gentle with yourself. During pregnancy and in the postpartum phase, love your body and love yourself. Our babies pick up on everything we do and say, so be sure to always be encouraging about body image. You will always think your child is the most beautiful and perfect person, make sure they feel the same about themselves because they should!!

8 Months

Body image will always be a hot topic of struggle in the world we live in, but the confidence starts within ourselves. Next time you look in the mirror, whether pregnant or not, tell yourself that that body is capable of carrying, birthing, and raising a beautiful baby. Remind yourself that some women aren’t fortunate enough to carry their own child and gain all the weight that comes along with that. Be grateful for those stretch marks, they are your battle wounds, be proud of them! Embrace the transformation, it is a symbol of your new life as “mom”, one of the greatest titles you could ever hold.


Chatt Later,

Mallory

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