Thoughts on pregnancy and body image
This post is going to be a little bit more personal in nature. I normally wouldn’t throw all this out there, but I think it is something that is important to discuss. Most women out there have body image issues of some kind. Even if we are generally happy with our body there is something we’d like to change. Pregnancy just takes all of it and throws it out the window. You are starting from scratch with a body that is constantly changing, and not always ways that you want it to. So this post is going to be a babble of how I’m feeling right now, things I’m struggling with, etc.
So to start off, I want to know if there are really women out there that feel sexy and more feminine while pregnant. Because I sure as hell don’t. I’m not sure if that is just because how my body is changing or what. But I am not feeling sexy and feminine. I have constantly morphing super boobs and a belly that is growing up and not out. My hips have changed a tiny bit, by about an inch. My my stomach measurement has been a pretty consistent 35 inches for probably 8 weeks. The biggest change is my waist line. Before even with a bumping belly I had a nipped in waist line. That is totally gone. Baby is growing up and not out, so I don’t have a cute pushed out belly. My boobs still measure several inches more than my belly (as do my hips) so I’ve got this crazy body shape going on.
So to show you what I mean, of course I’ve got some photos. The picture below is my twin sister while pregnant a few years ago. She is probably about a month further along then what I am now (I don’t remember for sure, just estimating). That is me to her left, but with smaller boobs. I am 5’1.5″ and was about 107lbs here, with a 28FF bra size. She is 5’3″ and obviously weight and bra size are changing. Some difference to point out between us, just by looking at our hips you can see my legs are longer while her torso is longer. Our general body shapes differ in that she is very thin and lightly built, but has some hips to match her shoulders. I am thin and more muscular built (but not heavy muscled). We tend to be pretty close in body weight, sometimes I’m more with more muscles, sometimes she is a bit more, but usually we are with in 10lbs of each other.
I wanted to show you this to show you how different we are when it comes to how we look in pregnancy. Her belly is more pushed out than mine, hopefully when I’m a few more weeks out mine will do the same. Because she has a longer torso you can see the difference between her bust, underbust, and baby bump. There are two photos of me below, side view and front view. The shirt I’m in is a regular shirt, not maternity.
You can see the height of my stomach here, it protrudes just past my boobs. My back is a bit more arched. Because my stomach is so high there is hardly any distinguishable difference between bust, underbust, and belly. Part of that is because how maternity tops are designed. They are either tents that hang off of you including being huge in the boobs, or they have a seam under the breasts that is too small for big boobs and hangs off the belly. My measurements today show over a 10 inch difference between my bust and underbust and about an 7 inch difference between my underbust and belly.
This picture you can see how much more width there is in my sideboob area and a tiny nip in from my underbust. About 2 inches below my underbust is where my natural waistline is. Up until recently that was still nipped in and no belly. That recently changed and has pushed out a bit. I felt really good when I had that nipped in waist, even when it was just barely there. But now that it is gone I’m struggling with how much my body has actually changed. I’ve had a hard time feeling like I look pregnant, especially because I’m wearing a lot of my normal shirts. I just feel frumpy and fat, not sexy and pregnant. Today I was walking around the house in a ribbed tank top and yoga style sweat pants, first thing in the morning. Even my husband had to admit that like that I just don’t look pregnant. So I’m struggling with the idea that I look fat with big boobs and not pregnant.
The picture below is to show what I am used to looking like. It’s me a little while before getting pregnant, I’m at my normal weight and doing my normal workouts.
Huge, major changes!! All of which are normal and supposed to happen. But I’m just not feeling that pregnancy sexiness that everyone tells you about. I wonder if it will happen at all. I just feel pudgy and fat. I wonder how much is because of the size of my breasts. Would I feel like I look more pregnant and less fat if I wasn’t squeezing myself into a 28J? If I hadn’t gone up 2 inches in the bust would I feel more pregnant? What if I still had my first implants and started by wearing a 28FF like in the first picture of my twin sister and I? If my belly was more obviously bigger then my boobs? If I was taller or had a longer torso would my bump look like that cute ball I want it to? Or should I just hope that she stops growing up and starts growing out (and maybe I can eat a full meal again).
Bottom line, I don’t feel like the sexy pregnant woman everyone says you’ll feel like. And innocent comments from friends or neighbors do not help. Things like, “Wow, you’ve gotten big.” or “You look like you’ll pop soon.” don’t exactly make one feel the best. I am 26 weeks pregnant, next week starts the third trimester. So yes, this baby is 2/3 of the way brewed, but there are major changes still left. After 26 weeks of pregnancy I am up a total of 12lbs (less if you ask my OB, I lost weight at the beginning, so I’m up 12lbs from the lowest weight). The minimum recommended for someone in a healthy weight range is a 25lbs gain. In order to meet that I’ll need to gain about 1lb a week for the rest of pregnancy. I know I’m NOT fat! But my head is not getting the message.
This is an odd reversal for me. My body image issues in high school centered around being thin, too thin by popular standards. I was called anorexic or bulimic by “friends.” I finished high school at 94lbs. I took college courses in weightlifting to try to build some muscle mass. I ate whatever I wanted. Eventually I grew some hips, but I was still thin. In my years in the military I worked on my body and formed myself into what I wanted to be. I built muscle, I ate healthy, and had my breast augmentation to fix the one thing I could not fix on my own through hard work. In the photo above I was happy with my body, just as I was in the photo with my twin sister.
So now I don’t know where to go next. There is not much that I can do right now, my body is actively changing. I can make sure I’m taking care of myself, but I can not actively do things to change my body like I have in the past. When your body is making such drastic changes how can you have a positive body image? What can you do to make yourself feel more positive? I don’t expect to go from feeling how I do now to feeling like a pregnant sex pot next week, but I want to find ways to feel better about the changes my body is going through. But really, who knows what will happen. Next week the baby could drop and I could have the cute ball belly I thought I’d have. But I need to find a way to make myself feel better. I may know in my head that I’m not fat, but I need to get my mind and body in line with each other.