Q&A: How to feel better about your pregnant body


Q. What can I do with how uncomfortable I feel about my body? I feel so fat!

A. Most women feel uneasy as they gain weight during their pregnancy. Although some women literally gain what looks solely like a soccer ball up front, many women get rounder in all sorts of places, including their arms and legs, their face, even their feet seem to grow. Some of these differences are due to genetics, and some are due to the woman’s eating habits during pregnancy. If you are eating good food in reasonable portions and gaining weight in a steady reasonable way, yet you can’t believe what your thighs look like, it might simply mean that is genetically how your body is programmed to handle a pregnancy. One can’t really fight mother nature. Focus on the fact that your baby is also growing normally and know that once the baby is born, your body will return to the shape you are used to.

Q. Everyone who sees me makes comments about my size. I am petite, and look huge even though I am only six months pregnant. My nurse midwife is happy with my rate of weight gain, but I am getting self-conscious appearing in public because of all these unsolicited comments.

A. This is the time to call upon the concept of snappy comeback lines. Most people don’t think quickly in the moment, so fail to answer insensitive comments with flair. Think about the comments which bother you the most and memorize some responses. I am a big believer in having three kinds of answers: polite, educational, and zingers. Here is an example:
Insensitive person: Wow, are you huge! Are you sure you aren’t having twins? You sure must be eating for two. Or three!

Polite response: Thank you for your concern about my pregnancy. I am actually having one baby and am eating exactly what I should be eating, according to my doctor.

Educational response: Actually, because I am petite, I look bigger than most women at my stage of pregnancy. However, both the baby and I are exactly the right size.

Zing: Don’t you think it is inappropriate to be commenting on a pregnant woman’s size? In fact, I am exactly the size my doctor wants me to be, which is more than I can say about some other people.

Q. I have issues with body image and have a history of an eating disorder. I am getting increasingly uncomfortable with my size as the pregnancy progresses. I find myself skipping meals to try to slow down the baby’s rate of growth.

A. You are experiencing a relatively common problem, since so many women have body image issues and eating disorders are so common in our society. However, skipping meals to limit your size is a red flag which needs to be brought to the attention of your health care team. Talk to your OB or nurse midwife about your anxieties and they can either reassure you that your body will return to its normal size after your baby is born, or can send you to talk to a therapist or nutritionist who can create a healthy eating plan for you. It is important that you seek out this kind of expert help, because you don’t want to harm your baby for what is a temporary situation.

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