My Body Positive Pregnancy

posted by 
Jessica Diaz France
  /  
October 25, 2017

Pregnancy brings up a lot of feelings and fears for many people. Fear of a body “out of control” that will never be the same, the symptoms, the impending pain, the weight gain, it goes on and on. Before I became pregnant I was worried about how I was going to be affected by pregnancy messages of weight gain because I inhabit a larger body. I thought about how it would feel to be shamed by doctors or to feel like I needed to change my food habits to be “good”. When I was preparing to become pregnant, a doctor I saw who was a stand in for my regular provider told me that I needed to “lose as much weight as I could before becoming pregnant”. I thought, well, that’s odd. I didn’t think I needed to lose weight to become pregnant. 

I noticed how that sat with me and I turned back instead to what I know. 

What I have learned is that having self-love has given me tools that have carried me through my pregnancy and I didn’t have to change anything about how I see myself or how I eat. And the best part? I have enjoyed this journey!

I have forever heard women’s stories and fears about pregnancy and childbirth and I have learned that I can listen without having to take that fear upon myself. The miraculous part of loving my body and cultivating my self-love is the immunity I have built around myself against hate, judgement, and fear. I don’t take other people’s fears on as my own. It doesn’t mean that I don’t feel those things, it just means that when I do they come from me and I can notice it and figure out what it means to me. I don’t feel the need to take other people’s stones and put them in my wheelbarrow. I can have safe distance and protection and still sort out my own feelings and emotions in my own time. Ultimately, for my pregnancy, it means that I can love myself while my body is changing and that I get to enjoy the changes.

When I became pregnant I started taking selfies in the bathroom mirror. I take them right as I get up in the morning with my hair askew and in my jam-jams, which for me are comfy cotton sleep dresses. When it was hotter in the summer I was just in my underwear. The selfies make me laugh and they make me smile. I have started to put these photos in a pregnancy book for myself and just for my eyes. I want to remember my pregnancy just like this. Just me, no cutesy pregnancy clothes or glamorous photography (although I may change my mind about that!) Just me in my bathroom with gratitude for this growing belly, the growing life inside of me and the feeling of wonder every time I look at myself.

One of the best parts of pregnancy for me?

I love my expanding belly! 

I love how full it feels and that each day/week that passes it feels different. I love my stretch marks that were there before and are creeping further up my belly. They show me that this baby is growing and needs more space- a sign of a healthy pregnancy!

I don’t mind the frequent bathroom breaks, I imagine my little one nestled safely in my belly and letting me know, "Mami, I need more room so I can grow big and greet you!" I don’t eat differently than I have previously - I deeply listen and love thinking of this little being inside ordering different things. I don’t shame myself for things that I crave and I enjoy my food as I always have. My seventeen plus years of practice listening to my body has helped me in my pregnancy. What I have practiced remembering over and over again is that I know exactly what to give myself.

I follow a lot of fat activists on Instagram, and have felt pulled to hashtag my photos with something along the lines of #plussizepregnancy, but I realized that isn’t how I define myself or my body. My body, while larger, is mine. It isn’t defined by its size or despite its size. I inhabit it because it is who I am, which has been formed by the experiences I've had living in it. This includes learning how to actively love it for the past seventeen years with the help of The Body Positive. I didn’t feel pressure to become a “plus size pregnant woman” when I became pregnant, I'm still just me. I didn’t have to adopt a certain pregnancy personality; design a nursery in order to be perfect or design my pregnancy wardrobe so that I could be perfect. 

It has been truly freeing to realize that just me is enough. 

It is certainly enough for me, my partner and our baby. It has been wonderful to realize that I can still be true to myself and be pregnant at the same time. While my body is changing, my love for it gets to expand as well!

My mother, Lola (grandmother) and me - three generations of mothers

As I journey into my third trimester, I'm thinking a lot about the birth experience itself. What keeps me grounded and calm is the knowledge that I come from a lineage of women who gave birth before me. I look around to the mothers in my life and see that they have all survived it. I surrender to not knowing exactly how it will be and I am comforted that I trust my body to tell me what to do. It helps me to know that no matter what, I can handle this. Self-love has taught me to ask for what I need and my experiences in my life have helped me to face fear instead of run away. When I face what I fear or what I don’t know, I can look it in the eye and not be scared. It will come and I will survive and I will be blessed with a being to love and care for. It is amazing to me that my self-love is involved in all of this. 

Self-love is the foundation on a house that cannot break.

It's the feeling of falling with a safety net below you, it’s the gratitude of knowing that we can’t control every moment but we can choose to enjoy it.  Deep in my bones I have always wanted to be a mother and because of the self-love that I have built, this journey has not been anything less than wonderful.

I wonder how many women’s pregnancies would be changed for the better if they had the opportunity to cultivate the self-love that I have had access to because of The Body Positive. How many experiences would be different if we all were able to slow down, face our fears, let our innate wisdom be our guide and not take on other people’s fears as our own? For women on the other side of pregnancy, what would it be like to forgive ourselves for self-hatred and the desire for a perfect pregnancy or a perfect child? The Body Positive has helped me so much on my journey, and it is my passion to share the tools that have been so instrumental in my own development with others. Let’s change the world for all of us and our future little ones. Let’s not let life be something that happens to us or in spite of us, but through and within us, grounded in fierce love.

Feeling inspired to learn more about how The Body Positive can help you on your self-love journey? Check out our book Embody, or join us for our upcoming Workshop in Berkeley, CA on November 4th!

Jessica Diaz France
Jessica Diaz France began working with The Body Positive as a high school leader in 2001. Since then she has supported the organization by helping to write curricula, developing and facilitating peer leadership trainings, blog writing, and participating in video projects. Jessica currently works for the County of Marin as a Mental Health Practitioner, specializing in adults with severe and persistent mental illness. She is a bilingual Spanish speaker and lives in Marin County with her husband.
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