Pregnancy: It's a Wild Ride by Jacintha Akkerman
My journey with pregnancy was a rollercoaster ride.
Most of the time, I live in a positivity bubble. I believe in looking at the good in situations, and in people. But the first 4.5 months of my pregnancy felt like I was in hell. These times were very challenging for me. Every single day, I felt hungover. Dare I say, I hated being pregnant. I waited for this moment, to be pregnant, my entire life, but then when it got here, I was, hmm, what’s the opposite of cloud nine?
For those 4.5 months, my body craved carbs and oily food. My usual healthy life was squished. I remember eating KFC five days in a row. In the first 12 weeks of my pregnancy I put on at least 5kg. But you know what? I didn’t care. I had always been so, so self-conscious about my weight, I wanted to enjoy my pregnancy. I wanted this moment to be about creating life. To concentrate on being pregnant, not being “fit”. I allowed myself to be in the moment. To not care about my weight. Well, that was a short-lived journey.
I have always loved surprises, and becoming pregnant was the most precious surprise of all. Due to this, we weren’t covered for private health insurance for pregnancy so we went through the public system. Which honestly was fantastic - mostly. However, at 12 weeks, I had one of my midwifes (you see quite a few in the public system) tell me “I had put on too much weight”. Are you effing kidding me?! I was someone who struggled with body issues my entire life, and whilst growing life, I really wanted to let go of that, but I let a midwife body- shame me, while pregnant?! I was devastated. I remember leaving the hospital and bursting into tears. How dare she say that to me? I was doing everything I could just to survive. I had been so sick. What’s 5kg and nine months out of my life?
After the “pregnancy hangover cloud” lifted, I was finally able to understand why people loved being pregnant. I felt great. I felt blessed. I felt like me again. I connected with my baby through my mind, body and soul. From 15 weeks, I started to feel “butterfly” kicks. I became one of those people who I used to roll my eyes at. I did put on a lot of weight, and I had back-ne (acne all over my back), face acne, and acne pretty much everywhere else, but at the same time, I just adored being pregnant.
Throughout my pregnancy, I was told by a “girlfriend,” “you don’t look pregnant, you just look fat”. Oh thanks, that’s exactly what a pregnant lady needs to hear. Everyone’s journey with pregnancy is different. We are all doing the best we can. We all carry differently. So no, that didn’t mean I was fat - I was pregnant. I was surviving. I was creating life. I was creating a miracle inside of me. Why, as women, do we feel so much pressure to look a certain way when pregnant? Some of us aren’t stick figures with a belly, some of us have a body full of ugly pimples and a body that blows up like a balloon, and you know what? THAT’S OK.
For those nine months, it wasn’t about me. I had a veryyyy hungry caterpillar growing inside of me which needed to feed on a hell of a lot more food than I was eating previously. He loved carbs - and still does. Our bodies are so incredibly intelligent (just like our babies are) so they crave what our bodies need. OK maybe eating KFC wasn’t the best for my body or my baby due to the amount of toxins in it (again, knowledge is power, I didn’t know what I know now about food), but listening to what our bodies need is key. If your body needs carbs, give it carbs.
My birth was a blessing. I was 10 days over, induced, and had a four-hour labour. It sounds wonderful, but being induced is often referred to as a train wreck. I was dancing and jumping on a fit ball one minute, all ready with my calm birth classes and meditation music. Next minute, I was face-planted (side-planted I should say) on the bed. I couldn’t move as my contractions escalated from 0 to 100 in a matter of minutes. The “tens machine” didn't do anything. All the prep I did was thrown out the window. I didn’t have a birth plan as such. I mentioned to the midwife that I would like a natural birth but I would also like her to let me know the last minute for an epidural. I wanted to go in with no expectations. My plan was to “birth a baby” and however that happened, I was OK with it.
After I gave birth, I bawled my eyes out. I was in awe of the miracle of birth. But I am very ashamed to admit that the first moments of my son entering this world, those precious moments, I deleted off my phone BECAUSE I THOUGHT I LOOKED FAT! What the F was wrong with me? Why on earth would I do that? Who cares if I looked fat? These are memories I deleted because I was so self-absorbed and focused on my body image, rather than the miracle of life. My weight should not have mattered at all in that moment. It should not have even been a consideration. Creating a life should have been the focus.
I plead with women to please not make your weight the focus of your pregnancy. Take inspiration from beautiful mummas who are leading the way for women post-pregnancy and prove that we all experience different pregnancies. We all do our best, and everyone’s best is wrapped up differently.
Pregnancy is nine months out of your life. The average person lives for 80 years, so what is nine months? In due time, if you choose to, you can focus on getting your body back. But for that short period of your life, make your baby the priority. Make your health a priority. Make creating and nurturing life be the priority.
Creating a little human is the most precious time in a mum’s life. That moment when you see your child for the first time, the world just stops. We need to love our bodies. We need to appreciate the miracles that they are. We need to listen to our bodies and connect with what they are trying to tell us. We need to love everything about ourselves and be grateful for the happy moments. There are so many people out there that can’t have a baby and would do just about anything to do that, so appreciate and be grateful for being able to give birth. It really is a blessing.
Jacintha is an Integrative Nutrition and Holistic Health Coach. She is a very proud mum to Axel, 4. She quit alcohol and found herself. Jacintha’s purpose is to teach people self love by breaking through emotions and limiting beliefs to reveal the real authentic human being that they are. Jacintha recently launched a video series called HAPPY SOULS. You can learn more here.