By Amanda Griffin Jacob
Last year was probably the fittest I have ever been in my life. I trained for a full marathon that had me running 30-50 km per week, as well as practicing hot yoga on my days off from my intense long runs. It was a mentally and physically grueling process, but I felt incredible. I was able to accomplish so many physical milestones that I never even dreamed of.
This year, I am pregnant again. Since it’s been three years since the last pregnancy, I had forgotten how taxing making a baby in your body actually is. One year ago, I ran over 42km straight. Now, I can only walk 5km. Last year saw me scaling high mountains during hikes. Now, a few flights of stairs leave me breathless. The bodily changes have been quite extreme. I’m used to pushing my body to achieve great physical rewards, but my pregnancies have always been a bit difficult. This has resulted in me gaining a substantial amount of weight that tends to hinder me physically. The burgeoning belly, butt, and thighs are something that not only took me quite a while to get used to, but they exhausted me because I’m carrying so much more weight than I’m used to. It’s an adjustment that I have to conscientiously have to make within myself, because it’s not just the physical constraints that are challenging, but I also have to deal with the self-esteem spiral that usually accompanies these changes. I try to remember that I need to have thicker skin during my ten-month pregnancy journey to deal with the inevitable side commentary.
People are generally well meaning, but why does everyone feel like they need to comment on your physical appearance when you’re pregnant? Expectant mothers get either, “oh you’re so small for this stage or wow you’re so big!” Everybody always tells me, you’re big but don’t worry you lose it so fast. I know this is said to make me feel better, but comments like these only make me feel worse. Basically you’re telling me: “Yes, you are enormous, but you’ll lose weight quickly, and be back to looking like your normal self.” Like it’s so easy for me. This leaves me feeling not just fat, but pressured to bounce back right away. I start stressing about it, while I’m still pregnant. My inner voice starts yelling at me, “but what if you can’t lose the weight like you did with all your previous pregnancies Amanda? Everyone’s going to be judging you again!” It’s just added pressure that I don’t want or need. My self confidence takes a bit of a beating, which is the last thing I want to focus on when I’m growing my precious baby in my belly.
I suppose I should be used to this by now. It has happened with every single one of my pregnancies, and this is my fourth! But when you’re pregnant and hormonal, there are so many emotions and feelings running through you at any given time. Your changing form and physical circumstances shouldn’t be the frontrunner when it comes to your worries and anxieties at this time. This is very difficult when people keep talking to you about it. My advice to everyone out there is as a general rule of thumb you should never mention weight gain or lack thereof to an expecting mother. It just isn’t necessary or beneficial in any way. I always tell pregnant women that they look beautiful, and never mention any kind of weight reference. Because regardless of anything, every pregnant woman is perfect just the way she is.