Body image has always been an issue, especially for women. As society projects an idea of what they they should look like, putting added pressure on women to out-perform expectations. This of course starts in the teenage years and sometimes earlier these days, as girls when body changes begin to occur, and they want to continue to fit in. As women we not only have to worry about whether we fit in with our peers at school, but we have the added stresses of puberty, shaving/waxing, wearing the right clothes, being the right size, wearing make-up and being who everyone wants you to be. To all the people who have ever said I wish I could go back to high school, do you really remember what that was like?
It’s no surprise that women can go through a similar transformation issue during pregnancy. I have been on a pregnancy forum since the two week wait from our IVF cycle, and it’s amazing the things that concern people about pregnancy, pressures and expectations. There is so much more awareness around pregnancy health these days. We all get screened for gestational diabetes, I was screened for my risk for pre-eclampsia, there is a rather conservative number given to the amount of weight we are meant to gain, not to mention all the foods you can no longer eat, and all the lifestyle factors you have to give up. There used to be a culture too of “eating for two”, and there is still a pressure from some people to do this, saying you aren’t eating enough to nourish your baby, so with the pressure from the medical field not to gain too much during pregnancy and the pressure from others to eat more – what are we supposed to think? It’s no wonder women are so confused, uncertain and insecure. It’s the pressure from high school all over again, with the added rapid body changes.
I found I was on websites offering calculators for how much weight I should be at depending on my gestational week, I found I gained more some weeks and others I gained minimally if at all. I struggled as my clothes no longer fit, I have found myself out getting clothes to make myself feel comfortable, felt insecure when I don’t have anything dressy enough to wear to go out or for special occasions, and of course there really is a lack in the maternity department in local shops. I also joined a diet program for pregnancy (which was an addition added from the program I was already following), I felt there wasn’t much guidance offered there on what I should eat, however it made me realise the weight gain part was hard for everyone as we had similar concerns on discussion boards. I still feel a little guilt and shame when I realise others have gained less than me, leaving me wondering what I can do to fix it, and why I feel as though this is such a big deal. Hubby keeps telling me I have all the time in the world to rectify it after the baby is born, and he reminds me if I can lose 42kgs, I can lose a few extra from the pregnancy. After all, if there is a healthy baby in there, and a healthy mum out here, does any thing else really matter?
In the last few days I had a slight change of perspective. I have been thinking about how quickly pregnancy passes (I guess if you haven’t had any of the side effects), and the amazing things our bodies are doing during this time. Do we lay our focuses on all the wrong things? Should we not be preparing for the arrival of a new baby rather than dwelling on a few numbers on the scales? Should we not be enjoying all the feelings that remind is there is a small human going through amazing developments in there, embracing the bump as a reminder of what is yet to come, and making a plan for our new life and preparing for parenting?