Let me start off by saying that I am completely in awe of every way my body is able to support my baby. It can protect, nourish and adjust, strengthening and relaxing where it needs to, all to give my little growing lemon the best environment.
But I’ll be dead honest, learning to love my baby body has also been a work in progress.
I mean, you kick off with three months of dead-weight fatigue – the kind that feels as though you’ve just punched out seven deadlines in a row, went to a wedding and a 21st at the same time and drunk your weight in tequila. You are out of the game. I was lucky to have skipped the nausea part but I can’t even imagine having to add that to the physical and emotional exhaustion.
Then there’s the realisation that yes, I am going to get fat. No, not unhealthy fat – I am trying to keep my weight gain within healthy limits. But still, my body is expanding. My boobs are already twice their size – and heavy! – and my stomach is literally ballooning. And at the beginning of your second trimester, you don’t have that cute bump yet, it’s all just a bit beer-belly-ish.
Through this process my skin has become really dry and itchy – partly because it’s stretching but partly because pregnancy hormones actually take their toll too. It’s all round uncomfortable.
And I’m afraid of the way my body will change. I am afraid of what my stomach will look like after my baby is born – will I ever be able to wear a bikini again? How hard will it be to shake the weight? Will my boobs completely disappear after breastfeeding? I mean, there wasn’t much there to begin with…
So yes, it’s been an adjustment, and I’ve had to introduce new self-love rituals that could help me get to grips with my body in this new phase.
My daily beauty routine has become sacred, a time when it’s just me and my body.
I have adjusted my routine to include more nourishing ingredients. The Eau Thermale Avène Tolérance Cream (R329,95 for 50ml, Clicks or Dis-Chem) has been a lifesaver to restore my flaky skin to a smooth appearance.
Body care has obviously also been a big focus, especially since I’ve now moved into my second trimester when the bump really starts to grow and show. The Eco Diva Créme Brûlée Anti-Aging Body Butter (R365 for 100g, ecodiva.co.za) is such a treat. It’s completely natural and it smells absolutely incredible, plus the texture is really nourishing and decadent.
I would highly recommend adding an oil too, which helps to nourish the skin and make it more supple. Plus for me the whole ritual of applying an oil is somewhat holy. I have been loving the Crabtree & Evelyn Pomegranate & Argan Nourishing Nutri-Oil (R850 for 100ml, crabtree-evelyn.co.za). Being Crabtree it obviously smells insane, which really adds to the pleasure of the whole experience. It’s just that second of closing my eyes and drinking in layers of aroma rising from my skin.
Like I said, the boobs are another growing concern, and should be treated with as much love as possible. I’m guessing they’re not going to fair much better once baby is here. Mama Mio has a whole range of pregnancy-focussed products and one that I’ve loved in particular is their Pregnancy Boob Tube Bust Cream (R850 for 100ml, shoppoisebrands.co.za). It’s especially for pregnant and new mom boobs, so I can also use it while nursing to salvage what I can.
Like I said, staying healthy has been a top priority. I’m not saying I’m a gym bunny by any means but I found that even in my first trimester I felt much better if I moved throughout the day. Obviously every woman differs though and I believe more than ever you have to listen to your body during pregnancy. For me, though, going for a run is a time when I clear my head, while I give my body a fresh surge of oxygen and blood – and I keep thinking it’s like my baby and I are going for a run together.
As for diet – well at this point I want to eat all the time, but I do try to pick healthy options as far as possible – though I’ve also found that my love for toasted cheese sandwiches has morphed into a kind of obsession. I guess I try to choose nourishing options, while giving myself a bit of grace. It’s about balance.
Saying it out loud
One of the best things I’ve learnt in this pregnancy is that expressing fears and self-doubt out loud really helps. I’ve found immense support from my sisters-in-law, both new moms, who have soothed my anxieties simply by saying they went through the same thing.
And when I told my husband about my fears of becoming fat and unattractive, he changed the conversation, saying that my body has to adjust to grow this new human. Since then we frequently talk and joke about all the ways my body is changing.
I need to remember that words have power, especially the words I tell myself.
Have you gone through this process? Please share your thoughts and experiences with me in the comments section, I’d love to hear from you.