Body Image, Meet Pregnancy

I tried on my first pair of maternity jeans yesterday. They were boyfriend jeans that I ordered from J.Crew that just had a few big elastic panels along the sides instead of having the full-on maternity waistband. I was super excited at the thought of comfy, baggy-yet-somehow-also-slimming, stylish jeans that I could wear for the next few months. But I put them on, and something about the waistband just grabbed all the flesh around my hips and hoisted it up so that it sat prominently on top of the elastic panels. No amount of adjusting could hide the fact that my new love handles were now front and center, even eclipsing my sometimes-a-bump-sometimes-a-food-baby belly. So I took them off, crawled into bed in my underwear, and had a pity party for myself.

The intersection of body image and pregnancy has been weighing on my mind pretty heavily in the past few weeks as I’ve started to “show,” and I have even shed a few tears on the topic (although these days that’s not saying much; I cried at the beginning of Finding Nemo the other day even though I’ve seen it 1000x and never cried before… oh heeyyy hormones!). But the long and short of it is that, apart from a few minor readjustments and some redistribution of body fat and muscles in the past few years, I have had pretty much the exact same body since I was about sixteen. That is, until the past 5 or 6 weeks.

I had never really given much thought to how my body would change when I got pregnant. I guess I always assumed I would be a cute, fit pregnant lady because I considered myself to be something of a cute, fit, un-pregnant lady. I thought I would stay petite and get a petite little bump and everything would be all glow and thick hair and long nails.

Instead, from the side, I barely have a bump at all if I stand up straight–but from the front, I feel like I get wider every day. I have already gained about 15 pounds, 10 of that in just the past 8 weeks, despite continuing to exercise and eat relatively well (average weight gain is usually 5-10 lbs by this point, and it’s recommended that women who started at a normal BMI pre-pregnancy gain about 25-35 lbs total). Most of that weight gain has been in my thighs, which now rub together when I walk for the first time in my life, and my love handles. Everyone’s favorite body parts to accentuate.

Rationally I understand that at the end of the day, gaining weight during pregnancy is healthy and normal and concerns about aesthetics should be eclipsed by the fact that my body is performing amazing feats of magic and biology at any given moment. There is a second human in there that is the size of my iPhone and getting bigger every day, and it needs room and calories to grow. I also know that my body has started storing fat that will be turned into food for Squishy once he/she is born, and that is pretty amazing, too. I know all of this. But it doesn’t make it any easier to look in the mirror and not recognize my own body.

I tell myself that I am being shallow and that I should be grateful that I am in the middle of an easy, healthy pregnancy, and what more could I want? I also tell myself that this is only going to get worse before it gets better, and I should probably get used to feeling like my body doesn’t belong to me, because that isn’t going to change for a while.

But then I also have to tell myself that feeling this way is ok. When you have looked in the mirror and seen more or less the same thing for the past 10+ years, suddenly waking up to a different body every single morning is tough. Maybe it will get easier once my little belly becomes an honest-to-goodness bump, but that might just make it harder, too.

The people around me tell me I look great and I try hard to believe them. But whose body is this? The real answer is, it’s not just mine anymore. And that will continue to take some serious getting used to.


  1. Ilse says

    Let’s go get lunch soon! You are a cute fit pregnant lady! No amount of how true that is will make you FEEL like a cute fit pregnant lady. I gained 50 pounds. Everyone also gains at different rates. I did the same as you. My ass got HUGE. And it still is bigger than I’d like… Then my gaining slowed down. The baby got bigger and my fat started to be eclipsed by uterus. A lot of your weight is water…. Not fat. Also all your fitness is still there. I just want to give you a hug.

  2. says

    Trust me I was there! You just have to embrace it (easier said than done) and avoid scales and tight clothing. I highly suggest tights and dresses so you have no comparisons of how things used to fit. I would say only weigh yourself at the doctors. Trust me it can be very disappointing. LOL But hang in there it all comes back!

  3. Lauren says

    Claire! I’m so glad you started this blog! I have been an avid follower of the podcast (since inception) and was going to ask you about making a blog for mom and baby! I just found out I am pregnant – like 4 weeks prego – and I’m scared to death about losing my body! In my head I thought I was already showing!!! Turns out it’s just bloating – yay… Please keep us updated on details, I’m looking forward to hearing your story as I travel my own mommy adventure.

  4. Kelsi says

    I’m so glad you refer to your little one as Squishy! Love the reference! I have ZERO human-growing experience, but many of my friends have (and then there’s my sister who has done that whole having triplets thing). Every body responds differently to the process, but every single one of those women have felt at some point like their body wasn’t theirs anymore. Any weight you gain is nourishing your baby Squishy, supporting your baby Squishy, and protecting your baby Squishy. That doesn’t mean your feelings irrational and it doesn’t make them go away, but remember that none of it is in vain! And your healthy eating and fitness routines prior to pregnancy will help you bounce back once Squishy is in the outside world. (HUGS)

  5. Em says

    I don’t think you are being shallow at all! I didn’t have this issue a ton when I was pregnant, but HELLO postpartum! I don’t hardly recognize myself. It’s great and easy to look at everything I accomplished and think I should be nicer to myself. I grew a beautiful baby boy for 9 months. I endured a 22 hour labor. I pushed for 3 hours. I had a 9lb 13oz 22 in long son. Oh and I did this with no pain killers. Should I be and am I proud of all that? Hell yes I am! But when I’m standing in front of my closet wanting to find something to wear to look hot for my husband, I have nothing but dislike for this body. How do i fix it? No clue. I had a little breakthrough today… I haven’t been to the gym more than 3 times in the 10 weeks since I birthed a child. My husband is working 3 hours away all week and is only home on the weekends and I just can’t do the gym by myself with no help if my baby gets cranky. But I can do plenty in my driveway during nap time! I just realized this turned into more of a vent session for me, but ah well.

    • says

      Love to see the turn out at million dollar + open houses this weekend, maybe if they serve food a few homeless people will come by. Won2;8&17#t be long before the realtors will be getting up on those grante counters to service the would be buyers.

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