This is my pregnancy experience as someone who has lost 100 pounds – eating, exercise, struggles, weight gain, my must-have products, & body image issues.
After 9 months of preparing and a lifetime of praying and waiting, our little man is here (you can read Noah’s birth story here…and see lots of baby photos)!
I wanted to share about my pregnancy experience, partly because I want to remember it myself and partly because so many of you have asked about it!
I just want to emphasize that every body and every pregnancy is so different so if you are reading this and you are pregnant, please please please don’t feel like anything is wrong with you if your experience doesn’t look like mine. It’s so easy to fall into the comparison trap with pregnancy (you’ll read more about how it hit me too later on in this post).
Your experience is real and valid and unique to your body and your sweet baby. You’ll likely have different struggles than I had. Out of the many, MANY moms I’ve talked to, nobody has had an experience just like mine, so please keep that in mind as you read on!
Eating During Pregnancy
Before I break down what my eating looked like each trimester, I just wanted to let you know that I wrote an entirely separate post on how I dealt with my pregnancy cravings.
I talked and thought about those foods a lot during pregnancy, but I also had a realistic way to respond to those cravings in an effort to not get too carried away with the junk food.
I really wasn’t sure if and how pregnancy cravings would affect me, but, boy I believe they are a thing! I honestly wasn’t sure, even during my pregnancy, if the cravings were related to the pregnancy or I was just giving myself mental permission to be more lenient in my diet…
But then I delivered Noah and immediately the crazy strong cravings for Slurpees and junk food disappeared. It was wild. My desires instantly shifted to all the fresh fruits and vegetables right after he was born and normal (and even smaller than normal) portions filled me up again.
I knew it was very likely that I would feel nauseous in the first trimester – I was right! I didn’t throw up once (and I am so very thankful for that!), but I did feel the nausea on and off throughout most days of my first trimester. It wasn’t entirely miserable, but it wasn’t fun either!
I was prepared for nausea, but I wasn’t fully prepared for my hunger signals to be so off! I’ve talked about the steps I took to overcome overeating and reach food freedom after my 100-pound weight loss journey. I don’t count anymore and I’ve learned to rely a lot on my hunger signals to guide my portion sizes.
It was such a strange feeling when hungry didn’t feel hungry anymore!
Hungry felt more like eat-something-ASAP-or-you’re-going-to-regret-it. I didn’t feel my stomach slowly fill up as I ate. It just felt kind of blech the whole time. Full didn’t feel full, so I just stopped eating when I felt like I’d eaten an appropriate amount.
I am super thankful that I really didn’t have any food aversions and smells didn’t bother me either, so I was still trying hard to get in lots of vegetables, lean proteins, fruit, and whole grains. My portions were smaller than normal, but I was still making and eating mostly healthy meals.
With that being said, even though I was eating smaller portions of healthy meals, I was still eating more junk food.
Snacking on Goldfish and sipping veeeery slowly on ginger beer helped to ease the nausea better than anything else. Ginger ale didn’t cut it for me (and the ginger root supplements helped some, too), but Adam suggested ginger beer and it was definitely a win! I don’t drink carbonated drinks ever (I don’t like the feeling of bubbles in my mouth), but it sure helped me a ton!
And I absolutely had some random food cravings in my first trimester! I’d majorly crave Sonic chili cheese tots, a cold beef burrito, french fries, or the cheap kind of cookies & cream ice cream…but then I’d only be one bite in and I’d push the rest away and give it to Adam.
At one point, I overheard him talking to his best friend on the phone telling him, “Yeah, her cravings are amazing, but I’m really going to need to start watching this pregnancy weight…” 😂
Also, I took a gummy prenatal vitamin my entire pregnancy (I took the VitaFusion prenatal gummy vitamins). Are there healthier options out there? Absolutely. But I really love gummies and knew I’d happily take it every day (which I did) and my doctor was supportive of that too, so I ran with it.
In my second trimester, my nausea went away quickly and hungry felt hungry again – a huge relief!
And then, just like that, I was starving all. the. time. Where I’d been eating smaller portions in my first trimester, now I was eating Adam-sized portions and it still didn’t feel like enough!
I was still making my normal mostly-healthy meals (mostly simple one-pot meals like these!).
I’d happily eat every bite and do my best to reach for healthy snacks (I tried to keep a lot of these filling, low-calorie foods around), but because I was so hungry all the time, I still ended up filling in the gaps with more treat foods than normal, too (fun-size Kit-Kats, salted caramel dark chocolate snowmen from my Christmas stocking, potato chips, etc).
I made it my goal to make sure I was eating as many nutrient-filled foods first (tons of veggies, lean proteins, and fruit) and then still allowing more of the junk food. It was a high priority of mine to make sure both my body and the baby were nourished!
My biggest second-trimester craving was french fries and my favorite way to get them was carne asada fries from a little local Mexican joint near us.
I had less intense cravings for all kinds of other junk foods, honestly, just wanting any kind of food at any given time!
I tried my best to be sensible. I did eat most of the time when I was hungry and, even though I was eating more than normal, I still tried to mind my portions.
So, to sum it up, my second trimester just included a lot of eating!
In the first half of my third trimester, I was most hungry in the mornings. I made sure to meal prep a healthy breakfast like I always do, but I’d often have a bigger portion along with some mid-morning Greek yogurt, chicken sausage, peanut butter toast, or fruit.
The rest of the day, I was back to eating my normal portion sizes (instead of my Adam-sized portions). It felt much closer to my normal way of eating!
I still ate chocolate nearly every afternoon, but, most days, just a few fun-size pieces would leave me satisfied.
The second half of my third trimester, I was hungry ALL the time again. I really tried hard to fill up on nutritious food, but I was also eating a lot more junk food than I normally do. It kind of reminded me of the beginning of my 100-pound weight loss journey when my cravings were SO strong all the time and it felt so hard to say no (over and over and over again).
And I majorly craved Slurpees the whole third trimester. All day, every day. Keep in mind, it was still really cold in Colorado. Most of the days I was craving these, it was only getting up into the 30s! But Slurpees (or Icees or whatever brand…) always sounded good.
Target came out with a flavor of Slurpee called “Baby Narwahl” (I still don’t know what it was supposed to taste like!) that was deliciously pink and then 7-11 started carrying a Brisk Blackberry Smash that became my absolute favorite.
They were building a 7-11 within walking distance of our house during my third trimester and I’m thankful they didn’t finish it during that time because I would have gotten them much more frequently!
I am also really proud to say that I stayed active throughout my entire pregnancy. Now, my goal was not to be impressive. We’re not talking about high-intensity stuff here. My goal was just to stay healthy and active, not to push myself hard!
Before getting pregnant, I had run regularly for years, but running during pregnancy just did not work for me. For the most part, it wasn’t a stamina issue. In my first trimester, I had body parts that were VERY sore. I did run the Turkey Trot 5k, but I was dying in mile 3…and not from exhaustion!
In my second and third trimesters, I was just carrying this baby boy so low that every tiny movement had him bouncing on my bladder, so running just wasn’t realistic.
I walked a lot.
I walked 2.5 miles on four to six mornings a week every week of my pregnancy. I’m so blessed to have a dear friend in Arizona who woke up early and talked to me on the phone for that hour of walking at least four mornings a week, so the time flew by!
Even in terrible weather…and, this was a Colorado winter we are talking about, so I had a lot of 10-degree, snowy mornings we walked in. Thank God for headphones so I didn’t have to hold the phone up to my ear!
I also went on a short 20-minute afternoon walk almost every day of the week. Partially, because I have a high-energy border collie who will drive me nuts without walks and partially because I do a whole lot of sitting working from home so I need the movement just as much myself!
And I did at-home prenatal workouts three times a week (well…most weeks).
I’ve always hated strength training, but I really wanted to try to be as prepared as I could be for labor (and, I know it’s just good for me!).
Soon, I’ll share the prenatal workout plan I followed (all of the videos were free on YouTube).
I intentionally choose short workouts because I knew I’d be more likely to follow through with them.
And, before you get too impressed, there were absolutely weeks where I only got one or two of these workouts in (like when I was traveling or we were moving), but most weeks, I got all three done because they were short and sweet and not very rigorous.
Like I said, my goal was to stay healthy and active, but not to push myself too hard.
And, as much as I didn’t feel like staying active at the very end of the pregnancy (probably 35 weeks on as I got pretty uncomfortable), I still always felt better after moving.
My Biggest Struggles (& What Helped The Most!)
Now, before you think I had a dream pregnancy because I didn’t throw up and I was able to fight back against a lot of my pregnancy cravings, I’ll let you in on some of the struggles I dealt with.
Insomnia was, hands-down, my biggest struggle this pregnancy. It was the first sign I had that I was pregnant before I’d even taken the pregnancy test! And, unfortunately, it was a regular companion all throughout the pregnancy.
My business partner even joked, “You might be the only person I know who will get more sleep with a newborn than when you were pregnant!” And I’m holding onto that hope!
Many women talk about having pregnancy insomnia later on because they are so uncomfortable, but I’m convinced that 90% of mine was hormonal. I wasn’t up worrying. I wasn’t stressed. I wasn’t uncomfortable (until way later on in my third trimester but even that wasn’t what was waking me up!).
My doctor suggested that maybe my insomnia coincided with the baby’s growth spurts.
Either way, I’d go days (or sometimes weeks) without getting a good night of sleep, then I’d get a few blissfully restful nights, and then the insomnia would hit again.
Nothing 100% solved the issue, but I finally found some things that at least helped!
- Magnesium sleep lotion. Honestly, this was a major splurge that I made out of desperation….and it was the biggest help! I hadn’t slept for weeks and I was willing to try anything. I’d talked to my doctor and every mom I knew to ask what they’d tried and finally I started googling and ran across this organic sleepy magnesium body lotion. I read all 215 reviews and all of the comments on their Facebook page before deciding to buy it. I don’t usually buy anything organic and I hesitate to spend money on something I can’t try first. Let me tell you, this stuff works! As I said, it didn’t solve the problem 100%, so I still had nights where I struggled, but even the first night I used this lotion was drastically different. I fell asleep easier, stayed asleep longer, and woke up less frequently. This is the number one product I would whole-heartedly recommend if you are struggling with pregnancy insomnia.
- a C-shaped pregnancy pillow. I used this pregnancy pillow from 21 weeks on and I’m not sure I could have gotten through my third trimester without it! By 30 weeks, I could only sleep on my left side and this pillow gave me all the right support in all the right places. I can’t recommend it enough!
- a weighted blanket. I actually had this Buzio weighted blanket before I got pregnant and loved it. Early on in my pregnancy, I woke up on my back and was SO uncomfortable and I felt like the weighted blanket was just making it worse so I stopped using it. After a few weeks, I was exhausted and desperate, so I tried again and I found that, as long as I was sleeping on my side, the blanket helped my sleep a TON.
- staying calm. This sounds so silly, but you know how when you have insomnia, you just keep re-calculating all night, “If I fell asleep now, I could still get 3 hours…”? Doing that, along with going over tomorrow’s to-do list and those other mental insomnia games we play made me so stressed and frustrated that I’d end up more wide awake than before! I made an intentional effort to replace that habit with prayer, visualizing peaceful happy things, and thinking of ways I could lower the demands on my time and energy the next day. I wasn’t always successful, but changing that habit brought me so much more peace and acceptance that insomnia happens and I would be fine.
- Melatonin. Now, I have a whole post about how I am adamantly against taking melatonin every night and I still whole-heartedly stand behind that! But I would occasionally have a night where I would use melatonin for damage control. I never want it to be a regular thing, but I used it maybe 2-3 nights a month during my pregnancy (after talking to my doctor about it first). I used the Natrol fast-dissolve tablets.
Allllll The Bathroom Trips
Going to the bathroom constantly was definitely my second biggest struggle. It started early on in my first trimester and everybody told me, “Don’t worry! It’ll get better in your second trimester and then pick up again in your third trimester!”
So…that didn’t happen for me.
As soon as the second trimester hit, I basically just felt like I always had to go to the bathroom. Some nights, I was up every 20 minutes to go to the bathroom (those were the worst), but my normal in both my second and third trimesters was needing to get up 6-8 times per night for bathroom trips (which, obviously, didn’t help with the insomnia!).
And I even cut off liquids for myself at 7 pm every night!
Of course, I talked to my doctor about it to make sure there wasn’t a medical reason behind it, but he basically assured me that nothing was medically wrong at all and this baby was just riding very, very low.
The pro of that is that I get a lot of steps in walking to and from the bathroom all day, every day (and our bathroom is upstairs, so I get a step-workout in, too!).
The con is that it was very uncomfortable. It’s the main reason I didn’t run during pregnancy. I’d have to make sure I went to the bathroom just before we walked out the door to go anywhere, whether it was my morning walk or a short errand, and I’d scope out bathrooms wherever we went first-thing.
Honestly? There was really nothing that could help or fix this one!
From weeks 37 on, I was up every 45 minutes or so. On a positive note, the doctor kept declaring, “Well, he sure is descending well preparing for labor!”
Being Pregnant During The Coronavirus Pandemic
In March 2020, when I was 32 weeks pregnant, the pandemic hit the US pretty hard. There were toilet paper and food shortages. Social distancing regulations were enforced (meaning no baby shower…except my wonderful business partner threw me a virtual one!) and stay-at-home orders were issued in Colorado.
Schools were canceled, church services went online, restaurants closed their dining rooms and could only offer pick-up orders, and they were trying to find ways to make it so as many people could work at home as possible.
Pregnant women have a repressed immune system, so that instantly put me in a higher risk category (even though they’d said the virus doesn’t affect pregnant women more than anybody else).
Fortunately, I already worked from home and I lead a fairly socially distanced lifestyle normally, so the changes didn’t hit me too hard! Most of my close friends live far away, so we already had regular Skype/phone/FaceTime dates, so I really didn’t feel the hit of the lack of social connection like so many others did.
It was surreal to go to my 33-week OB appointment and have all of the staff wearing masks and gloves with a “bouncer” at the door diverting anyone with possible COVID-19 symptoms to another location so they could keep the clinic low-risk.
I have an amazing doctor who was very calm and optimistic about the whole situation, assuring me that, as long as I followed the CDC guidelines, everything would pretty much continue as normal with my care during this pregnancy and the biggest hit we might feel is only getting to bring one person into the delivery room with me at the hospital (not a big deal to me).
My 35-week appointment was canceled, but the rest of my appointments were considered “essential.” At my 37-week appointment, my doc filled me in on all of the new hospital regulations, which were quite lengthy!
But I was pretty willing to accept any of the changes as long as Adam could be there with me for the delivery.
I read a lot of social media posts of women who were extremely stressed about being pregnant during the pandemic, scared of what it would mean for them, for their baby, and for their labor and delivery. And I have so much empathy for their experience, but that honestly wasn’t mine.
I am very fortunate that the people in my life were all very calm about the whole thing. Realistic, but calm.
My doctor walked me through the valid concerns and how to address them. My dad is a retired doc, my sister was a labor and delivery nurse, and my brother-in-law is a nurse who works at the hospital where I will deliver. They are all very calming, even-keel people who were quick to answer any question or concern I had.
I knew what things were in and out of my control. I knew what precautions to take. I knew what things I just had to accept. My biggest concern was that Adam wouldn’t be allowed to be there for the birth.
I need to really emphasize here that my goal here was to stay healthy for the baby, NOT to stick closely to a goal weight.
I’ll talk in the next section about some of the mental struggles that came along with that as someone who had been 100 pounds overweight and lost it, but I wanted to gain the amount of weight the baby needed to grow in the healthiest way possible.
I only gained five pounds during my first trimester, which wasn’t too much of a surprise because my appetite was so off. Even though I didn’t throw up once, I was still eating fairly small portions because I just felt nauseous a lot of the time.
And the 5 pounds I gained, I gained right when I learned I was pregnant! Then my weight stayed the same the rest of the first trimester.
I gained 21 pounds in my second trimester. I gained very slowly and steadily weeks 13-26 of my pregnancy, gaining about 2 pounds a week.
By the end of the second trimester, I started getting a little bit worried that I was gaining too quickly and talked to my doctor about it.
He basically said that as long as I wasn’t binge-eating junk food, that I shouldn’t worry about it (and all of our measurements were right on track for where he wanted them to be).
He believes genetics play a huge role in how much weight women gain during their pregnancies and so some of it is just out of your control, even if you’re eating just like you should be (and I was very honest and open with him about how I was eating).
I still gained slowly and pretty steadily during my third trimester – about 2 pounds a week.
The biggest difference this trimester is that I stopped worrying about the weight. I still weighed myself every week but just to keep track.
Every appointment, my doctor assured me the baby and I were both “measuring perfectly,” so I just relaxed, tried to fill my diet with lots of nourishing foods in between the Slurpees, and let my body do what it needed to do to grow our healthy boy.
Overall Weight Gain
Overall, I gained 52 pounds.
I’m uncomfortable that it’s more than the “average,” but I’m really not upset about it.
I’ve lost weight before and, even though these are different circumstances, I have a feeling my body will respond similarly, losing weight slowly and consistently as I make one small change at a time.
I’m writing this 12 days after delivering and I’ve lost 19 pounds so far (not trying yet…just focusing on recovering!), but postpartum weight loss will be a whole different post down the road!
I already have a (super flexible and realistic) plan ready, so I’m kind of excited to be back on the weight loss bandwagon! It’s exciting to see that number on the scale drop.
Self-Esteem/Body Image Struggles
I’m tall (5’10”), so until I was about 30 weeks pregnant, most people said, “You don’t even look pregnant!” In fact, the triage nurse in the hospital exclaimed exactly that as she was hooking me up to all of the monitors 3 days after my due date.
And, most of the time, it was easy to take that as a compliment. I know they all meant well! And I know it should have made me feel thin.
And sometimes it did.
But I had multiple waves of insecurities rush over me in different parts of my pregnancy where I just felt fat and broken.
People may have said I didn’t look pregnant, but my clothes still didn’t fit. I’d still gained weight. I didn’t have the cute “all-belly” pregnant look I’d always hoped I would have.
I just looked…big.
I had two emotional meltdowns I can remember – one in my 2nd trimester and one in my 3rd trimester.
I just broke down and cried to Adam about how unattractive and broken I felt. How my pregnant belly was supposed to fill in my loose skin (from my previous 100-pound weight loss) and I was supposed to look like a cute pregnant woman.
I still had a muffin top. I still had stretch marks. Even though this baby boy was riding low, I still had loose skin at the bottom of my belly that drove me nuts. And my bump had an indentation across my belly button that I fought really hard to hide throughout my whole pregnancy.
I didn’t feel comfortable wearing clothes that were tight against my belly until about 35 weeks along.
But, just like food cravings and weight gain/loss, I’ve dealt with these insecurities before, so I’ve learned some tools to respond to those moments better.
- I let myself feel the feelings. Instead of denying them, minimizing them, or trying my hardest to shove them under a rug, I pay attention. What am I feeling? Why am I feeling that way? Sometimes it’s just a small, fleeting feeling. Other times (like in my two breakdowns), they were big all-encompassing rushes of sadness/insecurities/shame. That’s when I move on to step two.
- I take my thoughts captive. It’s one thing to allow myself to feel the feelings, but it’s another thing to let my feelings carry me away and guide my logic. It’s important to me to keep my eyes fixed on God, even in the midst of big emotions, so I use these 5 steps to take my thoughts captive and make them obedient to Christ (I also turn to these Bible verses on self-esteem to help remind myself of my identity).
- I do a lot of journaling. Thinking and praying are helpful, but journaling has always been one of the best ways for me to process and move forward in my thinking. Something about writing things down helps me to organize my thoughts and it just seems to help me make sense out of things better.
- I reach out for support. Even after taking my thoughts captive and journaling, I usually haven’t just bounced back to normal yet. I typically need to hear from the people I trust most in my life. My husband, my best friend, and a few other close friends always seem to have the encouragement I need to hear in those moments.
- I give it some time. Even after talking to friends, sometimes my emotions need some time to simmer down…especially when they are being fueled by pregnancy hormones! Each of these times, it took a few days of feeling pretty raw before I felt like I was back to feeling like normal again.
The Best Parts Of Pregnancy
Honestly? I feel like I had a much easier pregnancy than most women do.
I had the aches and pains of growing a baby, but I had a normal, healthy pregnancy and I wasn’t miserable like I’ve heard in so many stories (my heart goes out to all of you women who were so sick from day one of pregnancy until delivery!).
I can’t say that I was head-over-heels in love with being pregnant either, but there were a couple things I absolutely loved.
My Nighttime Routine With My Husband
I really loved connecting with my husband during this pregnancy (when he wasn’t working out of town!).
We didn’t have as much of a bedtime routine for the first half of the pregnancy, but in the second half, we would spend a lot of time watching my belly move with baby kicks (they are so much more fun to watch with Adam!).
Adam would rub belly balm on my belly and we would play Backstreet Boys’ “I Want It That Way” to get our little Nugget to start moving around.
And the best part was just the dreaming. We would talk about what we thought his personality would be like, how much he would love Boots, and all of the things we wanted to do together as a family.
Those are, by far, some of the sweetest moments Adam and I have had in our marriage and I cherished those evenings.
The Baby Kicks
Holy cow, this kiddo was active! He was kung-fu fighting, flipping, kicking, and bouncing all. the. time.
I have to admit, there were times I wished he’d tone it down a little bit (I didn’t really want to be jostled awake at 2am!), but, for the most part, I really cherished his movement.
It brought me so much comfort that he was healthy and active and I loved the reminders that I was growing a little life.
And we had all kinds of conversations about what all of that movement would mean after he was born! Would he be a ninja? A soccer player? A gymnast? Or just be super fidgety like both Adam and I?
So fun to ponder all of the possibilities!
What was your pregnancy like?
Now that I’ve gone through it myself, I absolutely love hearing everyone’s stories. It boggles my mind how all of our bodies are growing babies, but everybody’s story is so wildly different!
I know people who have been terribly sick from day 1 until delivery. I know people who loved being pregnant and never felt any aches, pains, or sickness.
I know people who gained 80 pounds and people who barely gained any weight at all. People who lived off of cookies and strawberries for 9 months and people who could only stomach Goldfish.
I’d love to hear your story!