The baby’s recent growth spurt has, not surprisingly, coincided with an increase in my appetite. At the same time the baby is now taking up space that my stomach should be occupying, which prevents me from being able to eat enough to feel full at any one time. As a result, I’m hungry … ALL THE TIME! So, I’m eating every 2 hours, and I’m constantly thinking about food. My eating schedule seems like that of an infant.
Until this past week my appetite hadn’t changed greatly from my pre-pregnancy appetite. Naively I hadn’t anticipated becoming so hungry. I just thought pregnant women were big pigs, always talking about food cravings and using pregnancy as an excuse to overeat. I was wrong – pregnant woman are just insanely hungry. Unlike exercise-induced hunger, this hunger is never quite satiated. After a long bike ride I’m voraciously hungry; I fill up on a giant meal of spaghetti and vegetarian meatballs and my body recovers. Now, I don’t feel like I’m doing anything, yet I cannot satisfy my hunger.
Weight and food are difficult subjects for women in our culture. Because I was heavier than I would have liked when I became pregnant, I’ve been anxious about the weight gain. I inwardly balked when my midwife said I would probably gain 35-40 pounds. I know I need to, and will, gain weight, but since becoming pregnant, I’ve felt self-conscious about eating, about gaining weight, and even talking about being hungry. I haven’t restricted my eating in any way, but I’ve been very conscious not to overeat, which is recommended actually. Dietary guidelines regarding pregnancy advise consuming only an additional 300 calories per day, the equivalent of one serving of yogurt.
I’m surprised by my self-consciousness. I enjoy cooking and eating good food; I’ve never had body image issues; I’m glad the baby is healthy and getting bigger; and I find pregnant bodies beautiful. But, I both like and dislike the look of my pregnant body. My whole body is changing, and I’m not quite comfortable with it. It’s difficult to change a life-time of thinking negatively about weight gain.
But damn, I’m really fucking hungry. I am no longer concerned about gaining weight – I just need to stop my growling stomach. Perhaps now that I’m more obviously pregnant and the pregnant or beer belly conundrum is out of the way, I feel less self-conscious about my expanding belly and more like I … have an excuse to eat. To all pregnant women (and pigs), my sincere apologies.