Body image issues in pregnancy

Glamorous, happy pregnancy? Can I be totally honest?

That day in January when I saw my positive pregnancy test, I said to myself with a grin – this is going to be a light journey, hon. You are going to eat a balanced healthy sugar free diet, work until the last day, be happy and glowing and in no way you’ll stop going daily to your beloved gym classes. You will keep writing, stone-carving and painting. You will be energised and creative.

I had a plan. And, as it happens sometimes, the Universe decided to look at my cute little plans and laugh.

Oh boy.
In about ten days from that test, the morning sickness kicked in.

Only in my case it was not exactly a “morning” sickness. More of a “all-day long” sickness, if anything getting worse with the hours passing by and reaching its peak right when – exhausted and nauseated – I decided to call it a day and go to bed (at 9 pm!). Not before a pause to the loo, to throw up all that my stomach could.

This is when I found out that my nausea was more severe on an empty stomach. Eating something, a cracker or half an avocado for instance, would help.

So I ate a lot of crackers and a huge number of avocados.

And many other snack-y things. No stop. Not always healthy.

Even the healthy snacks, like nuts and fruits, when eaten in large quantities are still… well, very caloric.

Soon, I wasn’t able to wear my pre-pregnancy clothes any more.

I was showing very early, at a stage when you usually are not ready to share the news with everybody you meet on the street.

I was feeling at the same time frustrated by my body image and preoccupied as every woman is somewhere during the first trimester – was the pregnancy going to proceed smoothly, was the baby healthy?

I lost all of my energy. I felt like an old lady. I couldn’t make my art because of the chemicals in the acrylics. Yoga seemed suddenly difficult and even the most basic asanas where not obvious any more.

I had even lost interest in writing.

I spent few weeks not really avoiding my friends, but not encouraging getting together either. Me, the super social chatterbox!

I was feeling down and alone as a result. The nausea did not help.

I was feeling unwell and guilty about pretty much everything.

In my adolescence I had eating disorders.
I learned more than a decade ago to deal with it. I healed.
Yet I am aware this is a part of me that suffered once, and for quite a while.
At that time, a big key to healing for me was found in sharing.
I never stopped using this tool since. For anything. Sharing how I feel, sharing the bits that embarrass me, those that are not “in line” with my vision of the world. Sharing my dark parts with a close circle of girlfriends that are to me more precious than gold.

Facing my dark parts and facing my friends’ face when I tell. Bravely.

Then moving on. Having permission to move on. Giving myself that permission.

Leaving the shame of starving or binge-eating – or any kind of shame – behind.
Staring hard at the problem while holding the hand of a trusted someone. And finding that maybe there was a solution. Maybe it was not as terrible as it seemed when I looked at it alone.

Maybe I was ready to stop shaming myself, and start smiling again. Laughing even.

This is why it was such a relief to start telling people about my pregnancy, one month ago. Honestly answering “Better now, but it was horrible at first”.

Ladies, not all pregnancies are all smiles and lovely feelings and a beautiful bump.

It can be a heavy body when you are not used to one.

It can be vomiting every night.

It can be savage mood swings that make you doubt your own recovery.

It can be worries that cripples you.

It can be a skin full of spots that you never had before.

It can be sore muscles and a sore soul.

It can be loneliness and sadness when the people around you expect you to be radiant.

Yet, there is light ahead.

Our bodies are flexible – they can bear a bump, are able to grow a tiny new human, they can grow (many) sizes and then go back to their previous state if we want to.

Our minds are flexible – they can bear the emotional load of a pregnancy and sometimes grow worried, sick and old. And then at the end be wiser, happier and healthier than before – if we want to.

As the (new) yogic saying goes:
Blessed are the flexible, for they shall not be bent out of shape.

Sat Nam with much love,


Photo credit Alexa Roche Photography, Danka Peter, Hans Vivek, Brooke Lark, Christian Battaglia, Meiying Ng.

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