I was looking for pregnancy images to post on social media and what really struck me was the vast array of photos which show “glowing” pregnancies, images of young women with wafty skirts on beautiful beaches. All smiles and perfect bellies.
What a crock of shit. I can’t ever remember feeling I looked anything like that when I was pregnant. It took some searching to find the image I've used. Where are all the real images, the swollen ankles and saggy boobs, the over 40's and the one's who can't walk on a beach even if they wanted to because of the pain of their SPD?
How are YOU feeling about your pregnant body?
Do you love it? Are you excited by seeing your belly grow? Are you enjoying having luscious hair? Are you amazed by your bodies ability to change and to grow new life? Do you hang out on the beach in a sarong at sunset?
No? Not feeling it? Completely over it?
That’s ok you know. I get it.
Are you disgusted by the appearance of stretch marks? Do you miss lying in whatever position you fancied in bed? Are you getting lumpy, sweaty and hairy? Are your favourite clothes too tight? Do you hate being pregnant?
We are bombarded with unrealistic images and pressure during pregnancy. Social media is rife with accounts where we only see the perfect photo, not the real images.
We see beautiful pregnant people smiling and making hearts on their belly with their hands.
We see groups of pregnant women, laughing into their coffee mugs (decaff of course) with their perfect smiles and perfect hair.
We see the heavily pregnant mama with her toddler planting a kiss on her perfect belly.
We see bendy pregnant women enjoying yoga stretches with tight bums and pretty leggings.
It’s all clever marketing- smoke and mirrors remember. My arse has never looked good in leggings, pregnant or not.
We don’t really get to see the realities of pregnancy much. The morning sickness, the images of those proper moments of sheer desperation and sadness, snot bubbles and puffy eyes. The sleepless nights, sore boobs and backache. The loss of identity, the fear of not being good enough, of hating the changes happening on the outside and under the surface. It’s not all wonderful and joy filled.
I actually quite enjoyed my pregnancies on the whole, but I do recall being hot, really fucking hot, all the damned time. I was also blessed with a thing called Melasma in my first pregnancy which resulted in me looking like I had a moustache!! Oh the joy, I remember being really embarrassed about it. (note to self…write a post about Melasma) And the second time around, dear god! Those were the truly glamorous days, when I was as wide as a house, dragging a toddler around in the middle of August with high blood pressure and fat feet. I never felt beautiful. I felt round, really round and mostly quite uncomfortable and sweaty.
Anyway, my point is, don’t compare yourself to others. You are going to have some epic pregnant days where you glow like a goddess and look radiant (these are obviously the days you should dig out that sarong and head to the beach for a photo shoot!) but you’re going to have some real shockers too. You may be blessed with stretch marks, varicose veins or if you’re really lucky some piles. You’ll often feel hot fat and sweaty and you’ll yearn for your pre-pregnancy body. You’ll sometimes feel so knackered you won’t know how to get through the day. But you’re not alone. You are never alone. Behind those photoshopped images with their filters and airbrushing are other parents, all travelling their own bumpy roads. They have shite days too, they've had puffy eyes and have had to wash sick out of their hair too.
It’s ok to feel sad and miss your old body, to mourn what will never be the same again. When you become a parent, you lose as much as you gain. Your identity changes along with your bra size. You leave behind the old you and become someone new. A parent. You are going to be responsible for keeping someone alive, fed, nurtured. You no longer walk out of the house just with your phone and keys. You probably won’t have a wee in peace for several years. You have to take them everywhere you go AND you have to remember to take them home again (it only happened once but I did leave my daughter at a BBQ a few weeks after she was born)
Then, just when you’ve said goodbye to your work colleagues, your freedom and your favourite jeans here comes the good bit. The gain. You gain so much. The huge payoff for all those sweat stains, tight trousers and hairy nipples is the little person. Your little person. You gain the unconditional love of your child, who sees you as the most important person in the world (at least for the first few years until they get an opinion and attitude).
Your body is changing but it’s also pretty flipping awesome and so clever. You are growing a whole new person, mind-blowing when you think about it. Your body is doing that, and it is pretty darned spectacular. So, nourish yourself, be kind to yourself, mourn your old body and your old life, but always try and keep your eye on the goal. Remember you’re not alone, it’s a path walked by every new parent, sometimes in a sarong along the beach, sometimes in joggers and a grubby t-shirt in Home Bargains.
Oh, whilst you’re in there-you may want to grab yourself a really good deodorant and a box of tissues!!!