Mostly because my clothes don’t fit properly. Which is because I am pregnant. I get that, but it is still a tough pill to swallow some days.
Before I became pregnant, I heard stories about women who never needed to shop in the dreaded maternity section. I saw pictures of the freak-of-nature Heidi Klum and other celebrity mamas who are dressed by professionals and photographed only from certain angles. And I had this fantasy that my baby bump would be just that, an adorable basketball on the front of my body that had no adverse effects on anywhere else. I was misinformed.
Even though my weight gain is perfectly on track, even though people remind me I am growing a person, even though I know it seems vain to worry about my physical appearance during such a miraculous time, I find myself at times struggling with the changes to my body that have resulted in changes to my wardrobe. It doesn’t help that upon mentioning these insecurities, I am often met with eye-rolling and tsk-tsking. “You are MEANT to gain weight! Your baby NEEDS it! You’re not thinking of starving your baby in hopes of avoiding cottage cheese thighs, ARE YOU?” No, I’m not. But I am going to talk about pregnancy with honesty so as to limit the amount of eye-rolling other women have to deal with. I’ll take one for the team, and say that gaining weight, even for this great purpose, is hard for me.
Previously flat chested, I am now sporting some C-cups. And C-cups, it turns out, are more affected by gravity than AA-cups. My baby bump has also led to some baby lumps…on my bum. My thighs are touching in places and ways they didn’t before. Cellulite is now part of my look. All during bikini season. And, I realize, all minor details when it comes to the end result, but a bit disconcerting when facing my closet in the morning.
In the year or so leading up to us beginning the baby adventure, I would mentally check off certain pieces of clothing that I thought would be good for pregnancy. Since tunics and empire waists and loose lines have been in fashion, I felt I was adequately stocked with an entire wardrobe that would accentuate my glow. It all sounds so naïve now.
Firstly, those newly sprouted breasts don’t fit well in most of my tops that were in any way fitted. Secondly, even with the help of maternity bands, most of my pants became unbearably uncomfortable, if only because of bloating, by about 15 weeks. Third, I learned that as undesirable as they may seem at times, maternity clothes (at least those done right) are actually designed to fit the growing form of a pregnant woman. Go figure. I’ve changed my mindset, I’m constantly adapting, working to feel like something more than an expanding woman in a potato sack.
The following are my survival methods:
1) The good news is that, in contrast to the cruelty of a bikini, summer brings the freedom of a sun dress. Once I was over the initial shock of what it means to have cleavage instead of a Debra Messing-like gap between my breasts (and brought a properly fitting bra), I realized that my penchant for relaxed, jersey-knit sun dresses was going to pay off during the hottest months of my pregnancy. Over my bathing suit to the beach, with cute jewelry and sandals to dinner. They are comfortable, versatile and available for purchase everywhere.
2) I also discovered that while some of my favorites won’t fit me for a while, I can find budget versions of pieces I love in a size (or two) bigger, thereby avoiding the often limited selection of the maternity section and maintaining my personal style.
3) This isn’t the time for me to act like a diva. If I ever had ‘rules’ about how frequently I could wear something, I have since thrown them out the window. If I find a piece or an outfit that makes me feel comfortable and look great, I wear it as often as I can until I have to wash it, then I wear it again once it’s clean. Odds are in a week my current favorite will not fit quite right, so I am going to make the most of it.
4) Maternity clothes have their place in my life. Those women who make it through pregnancy and never wear stretchy top jeans are the exception, not the rule. I look for sales, I borrow shamelessly from friends who are willing to lend, and I make the most of basic pieces, like a pair of linen shorts or dark skinny jeans, by wearing them a lot. And in the name of karma, I promise I will lend out everything I have to anyone who wants it when their time comes, because I know the pain of buying something that you know will only fit for a few months.
5) I’ve forgiven myself. Not for gaining weight, since for that there is nothing to forgive, but for worrying about my body image. At first I felt guilty, like a vain, selfish, silly woman who has no business becoming a mother if she can’t just get over a little cellulite and some saggy boobs. But then I realized that being human, being a woman, I’m flawed and complicated. I love my baby bump, love my baby. I also loved fitting into my pants and my favorite top and not having my boobs resting on my stomach. These things are not mutually exclusive.
It doesn't work every day, in every outfit, but I find that as I continue to gain weight, I feel less fat. Less self-conscious, more comfortable in my stretching skin.
Contributing author Lane is an intentionally unemployed social worker who is currently growing a human, following her husband's dream, trying to stay relevant, and practicing her mothering skills on two rescued dogs, Enid and Falcor. Check out her fabulous blog, the Overseas Trapeze.
Great post. I’m not a mom or pregnant but the body changes are something I am worried about and know that I will struggle with. We used to joke that maternity pants would be awesome on Thanksgiving and any other major eating sprees…but in reality, I think so many women are afraid to move into that section of the store when they are actually supposed to. Thanks to Heidi and Gisele and the like! Thanks for being honest as always.
Great commentary. I think honesty is so important when it comes to pregnancy. Other women need to know what they’re getting into! Now that I’m 10 months postpartum with my first pregnancy, I have 2 things to add to your list. 1. DO NOT squeeze into your pre-pregnancy clothes while you’re pregnant just because you can, you love them and you wish they would fit. I am suffering the effects of that now– all of my favorite summer clothes are stretched out from last year.
2. While it’s so hard to watch yourself balloon and get all fat, it is such an awesome feeling when the weight finally comes off! I have just started feeling genuinely pretty again, and while it was a long time coming, it’s the greatest feeling in the world!
Sounds like you have a great perspective. Blessings to you and yours!
Great to hear stories from the other side April. I tell myself this is all temporary, but knowing it has been true for other women is important for my sanity!
Lane – I completely related to this article. This was EXACTLY how I felt when pregnant with Raines. Pregnancy #2 is a tiny bit easier that way…I only feel fat once in a while, instead of all the time. 🙂
April – You bring up a good point. I wrecked a couple of my favorite non-maternity tank tops by wearing them through my first pregnancy. The good news now is that I’m wearing them again…but probably for the last time. They now have a built-in belly pouch…which is not the look I’ll be going for post-pregnancy. Sigh.
I’m currently at 25 weeks. And I resonate with EVERYTHING Lane is saying. I get down about it, and then feel guilty about letting it get me down. And I don’t know WHAT to do with my boobs! I’ve never had real boobs before. I too had hoped to avoid maternity clothes: not possible. Wearing regular clothes that don’t fit just makes me feel worse. I have to remind myself all the time that the pregnancy part is temporary — it’s the motherhood part I should really focus on. And I too am finding that the bigger my belly gets, the more sense my body makes, and the less fat I feel. Maybe I’m reaching an equilibrium… although before I know it I’ll be trying to figure out what to do with my postpartum body and milkboobs.
I was just sobbing uncontrollably over this– multiple times– yesterday. I was totally unprepared for the emotions that have come along with my changing body. Thank you for articulating it so well!
vegeater– Let’s not think about those milkboobs yet! These are scaring me enough already…I’m imagining that the giant breasts I am now sporting will just kind of deflate? Oh the humanity.
l.shanna– Let it out girl! I sobbed for about 20 minutes before an event about a month ago, while my helpless husband just assured me how beautiful I am. Is it wrong that someone that just made me mad at HIM? We’ll get through this! 😉
Lane, one thing I would add to your #4 is to hunt at resale/consignment shops in addition to hitting up friends. Seven maternity jeans (probably worn fewer than 10x) for 25 bucks? Yes, please.
And I’ll also echo what April said. My body is back to where it was pre-baby, but I love it so much more now. I appreciate the way my clothes fit again, I take time to acknowledge the dimple-free thighs, indentations at the waist, and flat belly. It will come back! And you will feel amazing again.
At 32 weeks – eeks – it’s been awhile since I’ve felt attractive, let alone sexy in my body and my clothes. It doesn’t help that, as promised, people seem to have uncontrollable word vomit issues when they see me. For those lovely individuals who will tell you how petite you look, there seem to be just as many who try to guess your progress at about 4 or 5 weeks down the road. Baby J seems to be resting comfortably so low that the belly band only worked for so long before I realized that I was going to have to sit down at some point, succumbing (thankfully now) to full panel maternity jeans. Lane, I too am eternally grateful for #1 – I can’t imagine having to wear pants and sweaters all winter long – the sundress has been my friend. And #5 really hits home – yes, pregnancy is a beautiful thing, but it doesn’t do anything for that girlish figure 🙂 I would be lying if I didn’t say that I stood in front of the mirror the day that my thighs touched in complete mortification or that the sheer weight of 2 DDs resting on my stomach when I’m sitting doesn’t make me a little nautious. I love Baby J to the end of the earth already, but I’ll be happy to have some sort of indented definition between my neck and ankles (with a bubble but like I was already dealing with, my belly seems to make me look like a genie bottle) after he arrives! Hang in there – we’ll be there soon.
Ashley…Thanks for adding that, you are totally right, consignment shops are great place to look for your temporary wardrobe!
Amanda, I’m 5 weeks behind you girl, and I feel your pain. The touching thighs is something that really was hard for me, I swear that is the reason why I am suddenly waddling.
I love this, thank you for your honesty. I’m 31 weeks pregnant but for weeks and weeks have felt all, “I’m so fat” when I know I’m not FAT. It’s a hard adjustment, especially when you fight to maintain your weight or lose weight and in your mind the number on the scale just gets higher and higher. As for clothes fitting, well, it is what it is but I’ll be THRILLED when I can wear some of my former faves.
i am 31 weeks pregnant with my second daughter. and unfortunately, i never made it back to pre-pregnancy weight before getting pregnant again, so this has been kinda hard… given the expectations i had for myself. but i have to keep telling myself, “don’t say anything to yourself in front of that blasted mirror that you wouldn’t say to your little girls.” the last thing i want for them is an unhealthy body image fueled by my own insecurity… my three year old is gorgeous, bouncing shirley temple curls and a smile that lights up the universe. and i want nothing more than for her to feel as beautiful as i see her everyday.
Try to Cut Back on…
Butter, bacon, coconut, full milk, egg yolk, hot dogs, sausages, red meat, chips, fried food, canned fruit packed in heavy syrup, frozen fruit with sugar added, white flour, white bread, doughnuts, biscuits, egg
My life is not long! But I will not let my life boring! I will try to do something I love doing things for their own pleasure! Make it a rich and meaningful