a discussion about my what my experience is at 22 weeks, pregnancy weight gain, and what is "normal"
As of today, I am now 22 weeks pregnant, which begins the last week of my 5th month.
I cannot BELIEVE how quickly this second trimester has been flying by!
I know these last three months are going to be the longest, so I don’t want to count my chickens before they hatch… but so far, pregnancy has not been all that bad.
Of course there have been rough days. The first trimester was by far the worst. Even without morning sickness, I had constant fatigue and terrible cramping that would keep me glued to my heating pad all day. But this second trimester has been much easier.
Without sugar-coating anything, I’d definitely say that, so far, my experience has been entirely different from how I expected it to be.
I expected backaches and foot-pain and nausea and trouble with mobility, insomnia, and irritability… swollen feet and ankles, shoes that won't fit, areas I can't shave...
And I know I am not out of the woods yet. But, I think a lot of those symptoms that we associate with pregnancy are more characteristic of the third trimester. It is when you are at your biggest, so there is more strain on your feet and your back and it is trickier to get up out of a chair, etc.
I think the last three months will by far be the hardest.
But, I’m relieved that the first two trimesters weren’t even half as bad as I had feared!
So, what have I been feeling these days? Pretty much entirely normal!
My appetite is still bigger than it was before I was pregnant, but nothing compared to the voracity of my first trimester.
My energy level has returned to, mostly, normal. I say mostly only because I still get tired more easily than I did pre-pregnancy. But it’s no longer to the point where I have to take a nap every day.
The last few weeks have been disrupted by external circumstance. I mentioned in a previous post that my work had done some renovations. The construction dust and the fumes from the paint and the varnish SERIOUSLY affected me. They made me dizzy just standing in the building and then left me with a headache for the rest of the night after going home. Others found the odor unpleasant, but I was far more sensitive than anyone else. For the most part, I’ve enjoyed my heightened sense of smell… but this was one instance where I definitely did not! (I'm curious to know if other pregnant women have felt as affected as me from paint fumes? Please, do share!)
The following week, I caught the flu. Thankfully, it wasn't as severe as they warn pregnant women it might be. I never had a high fever, just a low-grade one.
However, it is safe to say that those were a rough three weeks!
And, that was all BEFORE the coronavirus really hit!
What else has changed in these 22 weeks of pregnancy?
I went from a 34B/32C to a 32DD!
AND THEY ARE STILL GROWING!!
This, of course, sounds like an excellent problem to have. On paper.
In reality, ladies, it’s expensive.
I still have not found a nursing/maternity bra that I like. I’ve tried a few. They have virtually no support.
If anyone has recommendations for a good brand, PLEASE SHARE! Until then, I have given up trying to buy new bras.
How’s the baby bump coming along, you might be wondering?
Ha, well the answer depends on what time of the day you ask!
When I first wake up, I am hardly showing at all.
By the end of the day, after I have eaten, I definitely look like I am showing! Even after breakfast alone, you can tell the difference.
I think it is because I’m so short... With a baby in my stomach, once I eat food there is nowhere else for it to go but out!
And, even then, it doesn’t look like a baby bump. Not in my opinion, anyway. It just looks like I’ve eaten a bunch of food.
With the right outfit, it can look like a cute maternity bump. But, naked, not so much.
So, as you may have guessed, the above photos are of me and my virtually nonexistent "bump"... all but two of these pictures were taken before I had breakfast. There is a visible notice (at least to me) in the two where I had already eaten. You can hold your cursor over the pictures to see how far along I am. But, in case you are reading this on a phone (in which case, I apologize, because the formatting is sometimes awful!) then, in order from left to right, it begins at 4-5 weeks, then 12 weeks, 15, 18, 19, 20, and the last one is 21 weeks pregnant.
Women are conditioned from day one in life to feel inadequate.
Whether it’s your weight or your nose or that mole, most of us have just “that one thing” that we would change if we could.
It’s part of our mass consumerism culture. Women are an excellent target for capitalist companies trying to push their beauty products.
We have been manipulated and convinced into believing that we are never quite as good as we could be. Which is why there is always some makeup product or diet pill or exercise regime that we can buy into to that’ll make us that much better.
But, the truth is, the system is designed so that, no matter what, we never feel it is enough.
From the magazines we read to the advertisements on billboards and the movies that we watch, we are constantly bombarded with impossible-to-maintain beauty standards that tell us, without saying a word, that we will never be perfect.
And, even knowing that this manipulation exists, it can still be a very difficult, if not impossible, mentality to combat.
I’m 5’ 2” and I have always been petite but, even given all my efforts, I’ve never been immune to these external pressures. I’ve had to do all manner of mental gymnastics throughout my life to combat negative feelings about my body. Like many women, I do not always succeed.
Often, the image that I see in the mirror does not reflect the reality of what is there.
So, when I first discovered I was pregnant, I was nervous about gaining weight and how that would affect my self-esteem.
When I read that you should only gain 20-25lbs by full-term, my goal was to gain 20. Exactly on the nose.
At first, the rate at which I was gaining was something that I found incredibly alarming.
By the end of my first trimester, I had gained approximately ten pounds, half of my goal weight. And I still had more than half of my pregnancy left to go!
Every time I looked at the scale (which I limited to only when I was at my doctor’s office) I would cry.
Not figuratively, like I would be a little upset inside. I would ACTUALLY cry.
So, let’s get into that, shall we?
This is an incredibly personal topic. Obviously not one that I am overly keen on sharing.
But, I know that other women go through this same line of thinking and self-doubt.
I know it because I’ve seen the posts on social media and I’ve spoken to friends and family. Which is why I think it’s important to discuss.
I’ve touched on some of these points in a previous post, but I think it is worth going over again.
After choking back tears to discuss this with my midwife, she gave me some reassuring insights.
Pregnant women gain weight differently and at different rates.
A weight-gain graph (like this one in the picture) is ridiculous.
It impossible to create one that can be inclusive of all women.
We are all so different!
First of all, the weight you are gaining is not all fat.
You know how heavy water can be, right? Well, blood is even heavier. And you have more than doubled the volume of your blood.
Your uterus has also grown. There are differing reports on which fruit it resembles the most, but for the second trimester I’ve seen some compare it to the size of a cantaloupe and others to a papaya. Either way, it’s gotten pretty big! Especially when you think that it’s normally the size of a small plum.
Not to mention, now there’s all that amniotic fluid in there.
Your water weight has gone up as well.
Then, in addition to your uterus growing, your breasts are, too! Your mammary glands have been filling up with milk and, guess what, that adds weight.
All this before you even begin to factor in the weight of the actual baby! (At my ultrasound two weeks ago, she weighed 11 oz.)
The good news is that this is all weight that goes away once the baby is born.
Your amniotic fluid is gone, the volume of your blood reduces, your uterus shrinks back to normal, and your breasts will, too, once you have finished breastfeeding.
That’s ten to fifteen pounds gone without even having to think about hitting the treadmill. (And, if you are planning on breastfeeding, that apparently burns a ton of calories!)
I want to make an important side-note here: I am not trying to put an emphasis on losing weight and being thin! That is not what is important. At all!
What is important is that we are healthy and that we feel good about ourselves!
I am just spelling this out for those who, like me, might take comfort in knowing that the changes are bodies will go through are not permanent.
And, because we are so conditioned into looking at those numbers on the scale and thinking "oh no!" it can be helpful to know that there is a different perspective to be had.
So why did I gain my weight so quickly when the charts suggest I should have gained much more gradually?
Because every woman is different.
If you listen to your body, it knows what it needs.
I didn’t have morning sickness in my first trimester and I was exceptionally hungry. My body was telling me that it needed fuel. And, sure enough, the rate at which I was gaining has slowed down DRASTICALLY in my second trimester.
Some women gain all their weight early and then taper off. Others are too nauseous to even think of eating in their first trimester, so they gain most of their weight later on.
Everyone is different.
Of course, if you can’t stop yourself from finishing off a whole pan of brownies every night (no judgment! Pregnancy cravings are legit), bear in mind that will obviously affect your weight gain, too.
But, as long as you listen to your body and try to eat right, whatever is happening is what is right for you.
Which is why, at 22 weeks, when I first wake up, I still barely look pregnant and yet I am about 20lbs heavier than I was at the start of this.
I won’t lie; I’m not perfect and I still occasionally worry about the changes that the next 18 weeks will bring to me physically.
But, I’m doing better about trusting my body.
And, at least now when I see the scale, I don’t cry.
Knowing what all goes into the numbers that I’m seeing has been helpful.
I hope it helps you, too.
This is what I’ve been feeling 22 weeks in. I figured I’d take a break from the whole coronavirus fiasco and get back to basics.
How about you? What’s your experience?
I’d love to have someone to compare with!
I'm Kelsey! Proud Iowan native, world traveler, writer, wife to the most incredible husband, and now soon to be mother