Body Changes During Pregnancy

I’ve wanted kids for as long as I could remember and was really excited when we got that positive test! But to be honest, I never really thought about the being pregnant part. Ever. In my fantasies it was always the “after”–the baby, being a mom, being a family. I don’t know why I never really thought what being pregnant would be like. Maybe because I really didn’t have anything to relate it to? I don’t know. But in my mind those 9 months never really popped up in my brain! LOL

When I got pregnant and wasn’t really enjoying the first trimester, it was a bit of a rude awakening. Once the second trimester started and I was feeling better, everything got better — including my mood. This was also the time my body started to change a bit. Instead of it looking like I just ate a big lunch or was gaining a few pounds in muffin-top poundage, I was starting to look pregnant.

I began to wonder how I would adjust mentally to all the changes my body was going to go through. Because again, I hadn’t really thought about it much. I’d worked so hard to lose 110 pounds and had worked just as hard to keep it off for 7 years! How was I going to change my thinking that gaining weight was OK?

First, making the mental adjustment to stop being in “loser” or “maintenance” modes was a weird switch. It was even weirder in the 2nd trimester when I had to INCREASE my caloric intake! Suddenly I was supposed to be eating more food. It took awhile to make that mental shift.

While I’m eating more food and not beating myself up if I go over my calories once in awhile, I’m not going crazy either. I’m eating more, listening to my body (and when I’m extra hungry I eat a little bit more) but I’m not bingeing on stuff because I’m “eating for two.” This was a huge positive thing for me. I had some reservations that old binge-eating habits would return because I have this “free pass” all of a sudden, but nope, not really. I honestly don’t feel that different and I’m not eating that differently.

Second, I had to get used to my body being the center of attention. For years as I lost weight and after I had reached goal, my body was the focal point in a lot of conversations. People would make comments about how great I looked, how awesome it was that I was losing weight, that I did a great job reaching my goal! It was all positive reinforcement and it helped keep me motivated in times when the weight loss stopped happening. But it was weird to go from being the fat chick that hid behind big clothes and layers to suddenly being skinny and having people NOTICE. I never really got used to the body comments.

Being pregnant I’ve noticed that I’m no longer an individual person–I’m now a baby vessel and people make comments. Half the time they are wildly inappropriate and sometimes downright rude (Maybe someday I’ll share some of the truly awful comments I’ve gotten but…right now I’m trying to stay positive!)…but for the most part people are just noticing “the bump” and making comments. Again, my body is on display and the focus. Weird.

For the first half of my pregnancy I didn’t feel too different. Around 20 weeks I started to notice some things.

The Bump

Clothes stopped fitting properly. I was making the switch to maternity clothes and shirts that were a size larger. I was also noticing the bump getting in the way of things. I could still bend over to pick something up but it was getting awkward. Certain machines at the gym I couldn’t do anymore because my bump was getting in the way (like the seated leg press). It was getting uncomfortable to toss and turn in bed–I had to do it gingerly to avoid pain and discomfort.

I was trying to remember back to when I was 250 pounds–I carried most of my weight in my stomach area. Yet I never had these issues when I was obese. It’s so odd that gaining 10 pounds of baby weight and suddenly I’m floundering around like a turtle on my back!

A5RKXR Upside down tortoise

Just learning to maneuver around with this new appendage was an adjustment. I can’t imagine what it will be like when I’m 35 weeks!!!

Even though I was buying clothes in a larger size–which used to send me spiraling into a mild depression–I wasn’t too upset about it because I kept reminding myself that THIS IS TEMPORARY. I am not buying a whole new wardrobe in giant clothes. I’m just buying a few maternity items to get me through the next few months.

I kind of love The Bump, though. This was a spot on my body that I loathed after losing weight because of the loose skin that never really went away no matter how much I lost or how much I worked out. It made me self-conscious. But now? I’m not bothered by my stomach at all! Besides, it’s the home for the little guy for a few more months. And it’s kinda nice knowing he’s there with me all the time. 🙂

Getting Bigger in General

I felt a little sad when around 15 weeks I had to go buy a new bra in a larger size. Larger size and larger cup size. It was a moment of sadness because I remember just how happy I had been when I was losing weight and buying clothes in smaller sizes.

My legs (ankles especially) are getting a little bigger. I’m sure it’s normal swelling (from what I’ve read) but it’s still weird to see swollen body parts where they used to be skinny.

Getting Winded Easily

I am a very fit person, cardio has never been an issue for me. I was in great cardio shape (thank you swimming!) and then BOOM. 20 weeks, I was suddenly huffing and puffing walking up stairs. I was so winded, could barely catch my breath, and it felt like overnight I was suddenly back to my old body! THIS WAS HARD.

I was noticing in the gym that things were getting harder, that I was out of breath, that my heart rate got high really quickly….BUT I FEEL THE SAME! Why isn’t this the same?!?! I used to be able to run 3 miles on the treadmill without feeling like I was dying. What happened??? I used to swim 2000 yards in the pool in 45 minutes without stopping to rest and now…I am so much slower now at everything.

It was so hard to make that mental shift that I can’t do the same things I did before at the same intensity. I am still struggling with this. I struggle with this every time I go to the gym and realize, Oh yeah, I need to back off a little bit.

My body sure is reminding me of this. When I get winded, when my heart rate is too high and I need to rest, and then especially the next day when I am really, really sore. I am reminded that my body is different.

After

I know that after the baby is here my body is going to be even different. I haven’t really thought much about it yet. I probably won’t think about it! Not until the time is here. I know I’ll get back to something resembling normalcy, but it will be another mental adjustment when it looks different then pre-pregnancy.

Being pregnant is definitely an adjustment. What I find obnoxious is that none of the books really talk about how you will FEEL. Every woman and every pregnancy is different, so there really isn’t a universal “this will definitely happen to you” thing…The books don’t really talk about what the changes will be like. Sure, they say “you’re going to gain weight” but the books don’t really talk about how it feels, what it looks like; they especially don’t discuss what it’s like to gain weight during pregnancy after you’ve lost a significant amount of weight in the past…you’re just kind of adrift at sea figuring these things out on your own, navigating your own feelings alone. None of my friends with kids could really relate or share how it feels because their story wasn’t like mine.

adrift

It’s odd to FEEL the same but every week your body is changing in new and weird, fun and sometimes alarming, ways. You just never know what is going to happen next.

You know what distracts me from thinking too much about my body changing? When the little guy started moving and I felt the flutters and tickles. Then getting the ultrasound and seeing a formed human instead of a blob of fuzzy gray. 🙂 He was waving and swimming and flipping around and it felt real.

If you’ve gone through this stuff, I’d love to hear about it!

13 Responses

  1. Your paragraph on getting winded made me laugh. Before (and now after) being pregnant, I like to speed up the stairs at work. While I was pregnant, I sounded like a blown horse every. single. time. I had several people stop and ask me if I was okay over the course of the 9 months.

    Gaining weight after having lost so much and kept it off is hard. There was always this little niggling fear that I wouldn’t be able to get back to where I was, but I realize now that the weight then was the symptom of a bigger issue which for me was in my brain. I’m not the same person I was the first time I lost all my weight and I have the many years of experience to call upon to deal with getting back to where I would like to be physically.

    But now that I’m ~8 months postpartum, I have to stay that I’m really, really (REALLY) glad that I didn’t focus on my weight or fitness until the 6 month mark. I think our society focuses far too much on women who bounce back within a few months of pregnancy and it’s completely unreasonable. I made myself secondary to my baby during that time and I’m glad that I did because I was able to enjoy her newborn and early babyhood.

    1. Thanks for the insightful comment Sarah! I think you nailed it, and I hadn’t thought of it this way: “the weight then was the symptom of a bigger issue which for me was in my brain.” I so agree. It’s not like I’m bingeing on pizza and ice cream like before. It’s different. I’m eating to be healthy and to help the baby grow, it has a purpose and it’s definitely not a result of some other “issue.” I guess I didn’t think about it that way…like you said, there’s that little fear in the back of your head and it’s hard not to worry about that. So far my body seems to be doing what it’s supposed to do and I’m not getting “out of control” like I was in the old days.

      That’s great to hear about your post-partum life/body. I agree, I think there’s a lot of pressure to get back to pre-baby body and I see it in bloggers especially. Immediately going back to the high-intensity exercise the second your doctor clears you. While I’m sure I will be excited to get clearance to workout because it makes me FEEL BETTER in general, my hope is that I won’t be obsessed with the “get rid of the baby weight” and take a page from your book…enjoy the newborn time!

      1. It was worst for me in the middle of my 2nd tri. My body seemed to manage to adapt by the start of my 3rd trimester but by then I was in the “I am so bored with pregnancy! WANT TO MEET BABY!” phase.

  2. For me, when pregnant the worst was not being one of those women that “loved it”, I loathed it. I felt huge, I was constantly uncomfortable, I could never get a good night’s sleep (get that body pillow! It will be a life saver!). Maternity clothes never felt right, so I was always pulling down on shirts, or pulling up the pants. I am very short-torsoed, so I looked 25 weeks pregnant at about 18 weeks pregnant. I had horrible heartburn, horrible gas, was nasueous throughout both pregnancies and the drugs did not help, I could not have felt more un-beautiful or un-lovable. I was moody, tired, short-tempered and always aching.

    But the most amazing thing is once I gave birth all those issues immediately subsided and I had my baby. Every middle of the night pee-break, morning sickness that happened all day long, painful heartburn was completely forgotten and it was all worth it.

    My kids are 2 and 3.5 now and my body is not nearly where I want it to be and to be honest, I was unhappy with my size before having kids and now I’m still not at goal. But before going to bed I was told the best knock-knock joke a 2-yr old could muster and the extra poundage could not have been further from my mind.

    1. Your comment made me smile. I could totally relate! I was not a fan of pregnancy in the beginning. I felt sick, I had horrible acne, I was moody and emotional. I was uncomfortable. I felt big…but once the “bad” symptoms kind of subsided I liked it much better. I’m enjoying the 2nd trimester a lot, especially now that the baby is getting really active! But I hear you on the clothes. Maternity clothes kind of suck. They aren’t attractive or flattering, they aren’t comfortable…I’m pulling the maternity pants up all day long, or the shirts down to cover the bump, like you. (But I do recognize that maternity clothes are much more flattering than the tent dresses in the 1980’s!)

      I’m glad to hear that once all that was over with you forgot about it and just enjoyed the baby. That’s what I’m looking forward to! The “this was totally worth it” glow! 🙂 Your kids sounds adorable. 🙂

  3. I was so out of breath before I even knew I was pregnant! I was like whoa, I must have really overdone it on those Christmas cookies. Heh.

    Pregnancy made me love and appreciate my body in a way that I never had before. I felt so strong! If you’re able to stay active throughout, I think it makes a huge difference – I never reached that point where I was massively uncomfortable and just wanted to get the baby out (but Nora came almost two weeks early, so maybe that’s why). The gestational diabetes was a blessing in disguise, because it made me eat healthier than I ever had before and made me go for walks three times a day on most days.
    Ingunn recently posted..Vacation Album Progress

    1. Oh, and my hair was amaaaaaazingly thick and I didn’t have acne for the first time in my adult life (proof for me that the acne is a hormonal thing). But then a couple of months postpartum, the acne was back and I lost tons of hair. Sigh.
      Ingunn recently posted..Vacation Album Progress

    2. Me too! I was out of breathe in the first trimester, before anything was really happening and my doc said that was the hormones. Weird!
      I love that pregnancy made you love and appreciate your body. Now that I’m in the 2nd trimester I’m getting there. I love some of the changes and the amazing things my body is doing.

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