I don’t know about you, but the Baby Bean belly is growing rapidly this last week. People are noticing, now touching the baby a bit more and not afraid to share their thoughts on my ever growing body. I have decided to embrace everyone’s comments and just smile. I know they mean well, even if their context may not be so pleasant.
How about you? Are you getting comments about your growing belly? How have you felt with your body’s changes? Is it different than when you were pregnant before? For me each pregnancy has been different, and how I approach it has been different too.
Ten years ago, when pregnant with Makenzie, and we lived in LA. Interestingly I gained more than I should have, in an environment that scrutinizes beauty and pregnant women’s growth. I thought my body was doing what it should do, but let’s be honest here. I was a newlywed, married to a husband with a non-stop appetite! We lived in the land of some of the best Mexican food in the country, and even though I was training daily, my pace wasn’t what it could have been and I loved my Huevos Rancheros! I laughed when people asked if I was having twins or commented on my body growing, since other Mamas said that happens to everyone. I took that for a sign that I was happily pregnant.
It wasn’t while I was pregnant that I was worried about having gained more than the reccomened amount of weight (48 pounds and I am 5’1″!), but afterwords when my beautiful baby was born. That is when in the city of multiple actresses, that I felt I should be holding Makenzie where ever I was so people knew I was postnatal and a brand new Mom. Looking back, it is so disheartening and the pressure on some pre/postnatal women to live according to certain “standards” is crazy!
Six years ago, we were living in Portland while I was pregnant with Emerson. I felt great! I taught
boot camps daily, worked out all the time, was chasing after Makenzie and having fun being pregnant. I knew to fuel my body to grow a healthy baby. My mantra was “healthy baby- healthy mama”. My runs were consistent and while I was gaining weight, it was steady and I had learned the hard work it takes to lose it. I paid attention to my OB appointments and how the MD said I was doing physically. Chasing Makenzie and having FUN was my mojo, in addition to helping motivate my boot campers to stay active throughout their pregnancies. Comments came, but they weren’t jabs at my weight. People were more excited about seeing me grow as the baby was growing. Some friends commented on my strong legs to “propel through pregnancy”, or “healthy glow” and way to be an “active strong Mama!”. I cherished each week of growth and what it meant for our little baby.
I had hoped for a VBAC (Vaginal Birth After Cesarian), but my body had a different agenda and I had C-Section #2. It was a smooth recovery, cherishing sweet time with Emerson on our daily walks. What was interesting to me was more the emphasis in Portland to truly try for the VBAC, don’t give up on the “dream of going natural delivery”. In LA it was a 180 of that mindset, which is why I was informed I had to have the C-Section in the first place. However, for me the focus continued to be about Healthy Mom & Healthy Baby, not “Back to skinny jeans, nutball stressed Mom, healthy baby”.
Now here I am pregnancy #3, so excited and ten years since my journey into being pregnant began. I am excited, eager and happy to be as active as possible. I also have noticed that being active will open you up to so many comments about what you should be doing, how your body is growing and create an expert in every person who walks by. Therefore I am trying to be as REAL as possible when sharing about my pregnancy too, so people know it isn’t about body size but how strong you feel.
However, we can’t control how others view being active while pregnant. From the man in the gym
who meant well, but was rather out of shape and asking me sternly if it’s ok for me to do pull ups and circuits, or was I “harming the baby”. Mind you as he scolded me, he was watching the A’s game leisurely pedaling on the exercise bike. Or the woman, whom I had only met twice before, in the pool yelling across 4 lanes one morning, “Oh my GOSH! YOU are SO BIG! WOW!”. I smiled and commented back, “You know I am 18 weeks pregnant now. Being 5’1″ my body is going to grow with the baby!”. She yelled again, “I know but you are HUGE NOW!”. Mind you, I would never comment on this woman’s build or her shape in her sports bikini, since that isn’t polite or my demeanor. Instead I hopped in the pool and let’s just say, her comment was more motivation to make me swim faster in my sets, add a few more IM’s than normal, smiling as I saw myself speeding past her with each lap. Just yesterday when swimming laps, an aquaintance (who is not a trainer or fitness expert but in the computer industry) swimming next to me said, “Erin, you are still doing flip turns?!”. “Yes, and it feels ok. I did focus in Pre/Postnatal fitness for 6 years and am doing fine thanks”. “You know I wouldn’t do that, but do as you do…” and she kept following my swim workout.
In the Bay Area, I have found more people comfortable highlighting my size. If I am big enough, not big enough, what I should be doing/not doing, touching my stomach and being free with their expertise. It doesn’t bother me since being a trainer I am used to comparisons, but I often think if people are feeling so comfortable and free talking to me about what “I should be doing”, “How big I should be by week “x”", “Should stop teaching by 26 or 28 weeks for sure since your boot campers can’t be motivated when you are that pregnant”…
What are they saying to the sweet Mom with a history of intense dieting who is nervous to gain any weight? Saying to the Mom experiencing pregnancy for the first time and had to be put on bed rest? Shouting towards the Mom who can barely move since her “hips don’t lie”and is in severe pelvic pain?
I have been embracing the comments, smiling and know that I am doing what feels good to me. While it may be more exercise than the “normal” person, the “normal” American is also overweight and doesn’t move enough throughout life, let alone pregnancy. I laugh when the comments happen, and know that as I approach the third trimester there will be so many more coming. It is interesting to me how one’s immediate observations makes them a prenatal expert in all aspects of the prenatal body/fitness/nutrition. So I have decided to take the comments with the attitude the person truly means well. I’ll treat them like my 92 year old Grandma who has a bit of Altheimers and can’t remember, nor realize, what she is saying at times. Then I know they truly mean well, but are absolutely clueless at what is coming out of their mouths.
But within it all, remember we can’t control how our bodies grow when pregnant only to keep them healthy and strong! Remember that…don’t listen to the comparisons or compare where you are physically to anyone else since your path is just that…yours!
Hold onto that mindset, stay strong and make sure to Dig Deep. Play HARD! Pregnant Jocks!