I’m going to be honest,  at the beginning of pregnancy it’s hard to like your pregnant body.  If, like me, you find that morning sickness is best staved off by eating, and your body is accustomed to perpetual calorie counting,  you can find yourself piling on the pounds long before your uterus becomes any more pronounced.  Even when your bump does start to make itself known,  it’s possible that it will resemble nothing more than a spare tire.  It wasn’t until I went through some sharp ligament pains at about eighteen weeks that I started to display anything that looked to me like a real baby bump and even then, in the age of obesity and fat obsession, a prominent tummy can look to all the world like a food baby.  By the time you’re thirty weeks along though, there is no questioning what that bump is.

It’s at this stage that you start to feel more at ease with your pregnant belly, or at least that’s what I’ve found, and your mission becomes less to disguise it or find some way to flatter it and more to make it feel comfortable.  Don’t get me wrong, at thirty-two weeks I still frown at any top half garment that doesn’t, at least to some degree, come in under the bust but fashion and make-up are becoming less and less of a concern in the face of indigestion, heartburn,  constant belching and the looming prospect of the birth.  That’s not the only reason why I like my pregnant body though.  I like my pregnant body because it’s likeable.  I like my nice tight bump.  I admit that my thighs are chunkier than I usually like them, as are my arms,  but I haven’t gained on my face.  There’s no puffiness in my hands or my feet.  I have occasional pain the ligaments in my inner thighs but they are easy enough to stretch out and I’m not suffering with any back pain at all unless I stand still for an extended period of time (movement is key).  I can see where my muscles are hugging my tummy on each side and my boobs seem to have been designed for the changes in my nippular area.  I haven’t even,  dare I say it, got any stretch marks.  I am, of course, at this stage knocking on every bit of wood available, including my head, for being so bold.  Of course my luck may run out, but it does’t feel like it.

I’m sure that after the birth I won’t be feeling anywhere near as positive.  My nice firm, rounded belly, will become a flabby empty belly and at that stage, like a deflated balloon, the stretch marks may appear.   My boobs will be sore and veiny, I’ll be tired and my undercarriage will feel like a war zone.  I’ll be overtaken by a desire to get back on the treadmill as soon as my beleaguered body will allow and lose every single one of the pounds I’ve gained and a few more besides and will simultaneously feel too tied to even consider it.  After the birth,  this will all be different.  But right now,  I quite like my pregnant body.

I feel that this is an important thing to say because in a world where women’s appearances are so focused upon and every ounce of extra flesh is a source of controversy, it’s quite hard for a woman to feel at ease with the idea of maternity and what it will do to her.  Even I, for all that I’ve just said,  find myself getting defensive when anyone says I look big.  (Fortunately, most people have told me that I look quite small and neat,  particularly considering how short I am, I refer back to this as happily as I do to the last time I was asked for ID while buying alcohol in the supermarket).  It’s easy to believe that, even in pregnancy,  weight gain is a bad thing.  The science suggests the reverse,  that the potential problems facing a very small baby are far more severe than those facing a larger baby.  But let’s be honest, science also told us that it’s far healthier to be overweight and active than it is to be underweight under any circumstances but that made no difference to our perception of being overweight at all.  We still think skinny is better.

When you’re pregnant though, skinny isn’t better.  A pregnant body isn’t supposed to be skinny.  Now that I have reached the stage in my pregnancy where I can look at myself in the mirror and know that no one will argue with the fact that I’m expecting,  I kinda like not being skinny.  Read these words through several times.  I may never say them or write them again.

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