When I got pregnant for the first time, I had so many unnecessary fears of the unknown. Looking back, I wish I could tell myself that everything works out, to just breath and enjoy the stages of what is to come. As a selfish 22 year old who played sports my whole life, disciplined myself on what, when, and how I ate(most of the time), and was too focused on trying to have the “perfect” body I was not ready for the changes that my body would go through during pregnancy. I didn’t work out regularly. I might have gone for a run every now and then, but consistently working out was not fun to me so I didn’t know how much I would have to “work out” to get back to my pre-baby body after having my daughter, and honestly knew I probably wouldn’t.
Your body does amazing things during pregnancy. I feel so honored to be a woman that gets to carry life around. To nurture, grow, and speak life into my child as she grew in my womb. I loved being able to feel her kick, move and respond to things happening on the outside of her world. Even before she was born she would make me laugh when her foot would stick straight out to the side and deform my stomach lol! I always wondered what she was thinking or what entertained her for those 9 months inside the womb. Is that just me or did you think things like that?
No matter how hard I worked at getting to my goals of a perfect body before getting pregnant, I was never satisfied, happy, or confident with the way I looked. I didn’t feel pretty. Certain clothes didn’t fit me the way they did others. I complained to my husband all the time about how I looked and constantly compared myself to others who “looked better”. Being 5’10 and taller than most women, I always felt bigger. Adding pregnancy on top of it I thought to myself “Tall and pregnant, people are going to be scared of me” haha!! I didn’t do great at finding my identity and confidence in Jesus who made me the way I am for a reason. I let Satan fill my mind with thoughts of insecurity and nonsense to be honest. I soon learned that my height came to an advantage of being pregnant, because my pregnancy weight distributed enough to where I didn’t gain all over. And my daughter was the pickiest eater so my challenge was eating enough! I talked about my appetite and eating frustrations earlier in my blog “Protein, Protein, Protein” and you can read about it Here.
During my prenatal sessions of weighing every time, I hated getting on the scale. I didn’t want to see how much I gained. As long as I didn’t gain more than 5 pounds in between each session I was happy, and then, one visit I weighed and didn’t gain a pound the whole month!! Immediately my mind went to “Your not doing enough” “Your baby isn’t growing” “You are being so selfish trying to maintain a body image while growing a child”. I became concerned and asked my midwife if that was bad and she immediately calmed my nerves by telling me that it happens all the time and by my next appointment I’ll probably gain 10 pounds….. in 2 weeks!!!! And sure enough I did and wasn’t upset about it. At all.
But y’all. Let me tell you. Once I saw what my body did during birth all I could think was “Wow. My body just did that. On its own.” At that point, I didn’t care what I looked like. I didn’t think about losing the extra weight. I just sat there in amazement of what just happened. It’s the most painful, most beautiful thing in the whole world that you can endure at the same time. And that’s all that matters in that moment.
Within the weeks that followed, I did shed the weight quickly. Nursing knocked it off so fast. I honestly got to the point where I was losing too much weight and felt scrawny. It’s funny that we think we want something, but we get there and realize it’s not as great as it seemed. When I’m not pregnant I have no problem with food ha! and I can put on weight so quickly, but when I was pregnant and postpartum my biggest struggle was eating enough. We all have our own struggles that we deal with. They may all be different and seem to be a ridiculous “struggle” to others, but the bottom line is it’s a personal struggle and we all have them.
Since the day I had my daughter, I haven’t said or thought one negative thing about my body. Every time I look at myself I think “I carried and birthed a child.” My body did change from before. My hips got wider, my feet got bigger, my waist got smaller, my butt got flatter, my breasts went down 3 cup sizes(which I’m not terribly sad about lol but they definitely don’t look the same or better ha!), my skin got better, and I gained confidence! Some positive things and some negative things, but to me, it makes me a mom. One of the best things that ever happened to me, and I have my body to remind me of that. Well, and my child lol.
Some of the mindful things I considered during pregnancy and after, since I didn’t work out, was my portions and what I was eating. It may not work for everyone, but when I was in college and my husband and I first started dating I was the biggest I’d ever been. Gotta love the Freshman 15… My husband eats mostly junk food, but he ate small portions all day long and would stop eating when he was starting to feel full. When we went on dates I’d eat ALL my food , PLUS what he didn’t eat. One day I realized this is supposed to be the opposite, so I told myself when he stopped eating I would too. I eat a lot healthier than he does, and I started cutting my portions in half of what I would normally eat and I lost 20 pounds. So I’ve kind of maintained that mentality. I know that just eating right doesn’t fix all the problems, but for now it works for me and I’m fine not working out regularly. I eat whatever I want, just less of it… sometimes.
So today, I just want to encourage all you moms and future moms who might struggle with your body changing during pregnancy and after. No matter what you look like before, during, or after, encourage yourself that you are carrying life and with that comes change. It doesn’t have to be a bad change. When people told me your body changes, my mind automatically went to bad, but I love my body better now than before! If you don’t feel confident in the way you look after birth, there are some steps you can take to a healthier lifestyle, but don’t do them out of a society view of body image. Do it to help you be confident in yourself. Your goal should be what makes you better and happier as a person and a mother to your sweet baby, and that should look different for each and every one of us. You are beautiful, mama’s, and your body went through something supernatural that our brains can’t really wrap around. Our God made us perfect and in His image and we should find confidence in that.
Share your struggles of pregnancy and after in the comments below. Let’s encourage each other to feel confident in ourselves. Also, like and share this post for other moms to be encouraged and find confidence.