This I Know From Experience

"Congratulations!" the man next to me in church this morning boomed, shaking my hand vigorously. Mortified, I pulled my sweater closer over my body, not believing he actually took the risk of saying that out loud.

Pregnant woman with balloons |

photo credit: MariaDubova/iStock/360/Getty Images

In my head, I wasn't even showing yet. But apparently, in my non-maternity clothes, I was, in fact, showing... and showing enough for a complete stranger to take the time to comment on my baby bump.

Comparing my pregnant bodies

Pregnant with my fourth child, I have been struggling since day one to come to terms with the fact that this pregnancy feels completely different from my previous ones. I am more tired, less excited (perhaps because I know of the sleepless nights that lie ahead) and all around feeling like 40 weeks can't come fast enough.

"This time around, however, I was breaking out my belly band at 10 weeks."

And part of the problem is that I am, in fact, not only guilty of the common women's sin of comparing myself to other women, but even comparing my own pregnancies.

With my first pregnancy, I actually got married at 20 weeks pregnant. I was just starting to show and not even in maternity clothes yet. This time around, however, I was breaking out my belly band at 10 weeks and definitely into maternity jeans by 16 weeks.

When I slipped into those maternity jeans, I felt two things: a huge relief, because oh my gosh, comfort, finally and defeat for being bigger than I ever had been previously.

You can't compare

Now nearing 20 weeks and still with the image of my first pregnancy in my mind, it has definitely taken me some time to come to terms with the fact that guess what? A fourth pregnancy is different than a first. There are loose muscles, stretched skin and a uterus that clearly remembers what its job is. Comparing myself to other pregnant women, or even myself, is not helpful and actually could be harmful.

"Every pregnancy is unique," says Erika Boom, a certified personal trainer and certified prenatal and postnatal instructor. Erika goes on to say that women can show differently for a few factors, such as:

  • A mother who is pregnant for the second or third time will show much faster than a mother who is pregnant for the first time.
  • A mother who exercises will show different than a mother who doesn’t exercise.
  • Two mothers with similar figures, but different torso space, will show differently.
  • A mother who gains the recommended weight slowly will look different than a mother who gains unnecessary weight faster.

Be comfortable in your own (pregnant) skin

If you're struggling with your own body image during pregnancy, fear not. You are not alone. I'm right there with you, but I've also done this enough times and seen enough women in my work as an OB nurse to realize that every woman really does carry a baby differently. I've seen 90-pound women with bellies bigger than mine and women bigger than me with smaller bumps; in this case, size doesn't necessarily matter.

For me, what has really helped is sticking to a good exercise plan. I committed to twice-a-week exercise classes and I've been saving up to buy a new elliptical for those nights when I just can't get out of the house. I'm staying focused on being positive, visualizing a happy and healthy pregnancy and staying as fit as I can.

Oh and one more thing? Stop Googling those images of "this week pregnant belly" to see if you're normal or not.

Because you are, I promise.

More on your pregnant body

Learn to love your pregnant body
Is it safe to have back-to-back babies?
Exercising while pregnant


recommended for you


chanel cosmetics new August 11, 2014
Hello this is kind of of off topic but I was wondering if blogs use WYSIWYG editors or if you have to manually code with HTML. I'm starting a blog soon but have no coding experience so I wanted to get guidance from someone with experience. Any help would be greatly appreciated!
chanel cosmetics new$-$d.asp
urban decay naked 4 palete August 10, 2014
MAC Cosmetics Wholesale specializes in discount, discount mac cosmetics, wholesale and below wholesale pricing. Cheap mac cosmetics online.
urban decay naked 4 palete
black air max 90 size 5.5 August 04, 2014
Hi there! Do you know if they make any plugins to safeguard against hackers? I'm kinda paranoid about losing everything I've worked hard on. Any tips?
black air max 90 size 5.5
urban decay naked 4 palette August 01, 2014
Welcome to mac makeup wholesale online store, offer cheap mac makeup for sale with all cosmetics product series for your face or body, our company has own special mac makeup.
urban decay naked 4 palette
hermes wholesale August 01, 2014
Howdy would you mind letting me know which webhost you're using? I've loaded your blog in 3 completely different internet browsers and I must say this blog loads a lot quicker then most. Can you suggest a good web hosting provider at a honest price? Thanks a lot, I appreciate it!
<a href="" >hermes wholesale</a>
[url=]hermes wholesale[/url]
sale gucci handbags July 30, 2014
not that much of a internet reader to be honest but your blogs really nice, keep it up! I'll go ahead and bookmark your site to come back later on. Cheers
<a href="" >sale gucci handbags</a>
[url=]sale gucci handbags[/url]
louboutin women size chart July 29, 2014
Hey there I am so excited I found your web site, I really found you by accident, while I was browsing on Yahoo for something else, Regardless I am here now and would just like to say cheers for a marvelous post and a all round exciting blog (I also love the theme/design), I don韙 have time to read through it all at the moment but I have book-marked it and also included your RSS feeds, so when I have time I will be back to read much more, Please do keep up the superb work.
louboutin women size chart July 28, 2014
Elizabeth Arden Wonderful Colour Maximum Volume Mascara Assessment
girls asics July 28, 2014
Hi there! Do you know if they make any plugins to protect against hackers? I'm kinda paranoid about losing everything I've worked hard on. Any tips?
<a href="" >girls asics</a>
[url=]girls asics[/url]
naked 3 palette July 26, 2014
mac makeup wholesale online store factory.
naked 3 palette
Baby Goose Extreme Condition Clothing July 26, 2014
I'm really enjoying the design and layout of your website. It's a very easy on the eyes which makes it much more pleasant for me to come here and visit more often. Did you hire out a developer to create your theme? Outstanding work!
<a href="$@~3@10Baby-Goose-Extreme-Condition-Clothing$-pi.asp" >Baby Goose Extreme Condition Clothing</a>
[url=$@~3@10Baby-Goose-Extreme-Condition-Clothing$-pi.asp]Baby Goose Extreme Condition Clothing[/url]
michael kors fashion leopard grain black satchel July 25, 2014
Excellent blog! Do you have any helpful hints for aspiring writers? I'm planning to start my own site soon but I'm a little lost on everything. Would you advise starting with a free platform like Wordpress or go for a paid option? There are so many choices out there that I'm totally overwhelmed .. Any suggestions? Bless you!
<a href="" >michael kors fashion leopard grain black satchel</a>
[url=]michael kors fashion leopard grain black satchel[/url]
christian louboutin patent leather flats July 24, 2014
Interesting blog! Is your theme custom made or did you download it from somewhere? A design like yours with a few simple tweeks would really make my blog stand out. Please let me know where you got your theme. Thanks a lot
christian louboutin patent leather flats
naked 3 July 21, 2014
Do you like to buy urban decay cosmetics? welcome to buy!
naked 3
oakley 04 325 reading glasses July 19, 2014
Hi, i read your blog occasionally and i own a similar one and i was just curious if you get a lot of spam remarks? If so how do you stop it, any plugin or anything you can advise? I get so much lately it's driving me mad so any assistance is very much appreciated.
oakley 04 325 reading glasses