photo (69)I’ve spent a lot of time over the years writing about body image on this site. It’s been such a blessing to hear stories from so many other women who have struggled with body confidence and self-acceptance and are now loving and embracing their bodies and all that they can do. Although I’ve made huge strides over the years in loving and appreciating my own body, I have to admit that I was very, very worried about my body and the way it would change and transition while pregnant. Having finally found a happy place with eating and exercising, I felt more at peace in my own skin prior to getting pregnant this time around than I had ever felt before. And that led to a lot of fears and questions.

How would my body adjust to being pregnant? Would I swell up like a balloon? Would my body change in ways that I would never be able to recover from? Were the days of feeling fit and pretty over for good?

Of course, I didn’t feel like I could really express these fears and concerns because we had prayed so diligently for our little miracle baby. I was truly thrilled to be pregnant and didn’t want anyone to get the wrong idea by me complaining or expressing concerns about my body. How silly to worry about my body image when God gave me this amazing, miraculous life growing inside me!

But the truth is, those fears are normal and valid. It doesn’t diminish the excitement of your pregnancy and baby and it certainly doesn’t make you a bad momma, either. There are a few things that I’ve learned about body image along this pregnancy journey that I wanted to share in case there are others out there who are pregnant, newly pregnant or thinking about becoming pregnant sometime soon.

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The photo above? That’s me right after finding out we were pregnant with Baby H. Someone should have slapped me for ever having a “fat day” because at 39 weeks pregnant, I would kill to look like that again! Which brings me to my first point…

1. Pregnancy will make you appreciate your pre-pregnancy body in ways you never thought possible. 
I’ve looked back at the photos on my phone from my pre-pregnancy days and been ashamed at the thoughts that I remember having about my body at the time the photos were taken. I remember thinking that I looked chubby or out of shape, picking apart my thighs or stomach. But the truth is, pregnancy has given me an entirely new appreciation for my pre-pregnancy body. Was it perfect? Absolutely not! But my body was fit, healthy and I think I looked pretty darn good. So if you’re not currently pregnant, appreciate your pre-pregnancy body. It’s more beautiful than you can imagine!

2. There are great things about your pregnant body, too! 
I’m sure everyone is quick to tell you about the horrible things that come with pregnancy, like the swollen feet, achy back and stretch marks, but the changes that your body undergoes are just plain miraculous. The more I read about pregnancy, the more amazed I was by my body’s ability to grown and change to accommodate a new little life.

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3. Don’t listen to discouraging stories!
You know what drives me crazy? When people are quick to tell you that you’ll never “get your body back” after baby or that it’s all downhill from here on out. I’m not going into the post-pregnancy period thinking it’s going to be easy, but I’m also not setting myself up to fail by believing that I’ll never feel or look like myself again. I’m fully expecting my body to be changed after baby, but I’m also expecting that with a serious dose of hard work I’ll be able to feel like myself in due time.

If you’re looking for a serious dose of encouragement, read my friend Robin’s amazing story of body after baby. We need more of those amazing stories!

4. It’s not all doom and gloom. In fact, your body may surprise you!
Everyone experiences pregnancy differently. Just because your sister-in-law’s feet grew two sizes or your best friend had horrible stretch marks that never went away doesn’t mean anything for your own experience. Personally I was terrified of stretch marks and gaining 65 pounds, but my body blew me away with how it handled pregnancy. I’ve gained a reasonable amount of weight, my wedding rings are still on and I’m still wearing my favorite pairs of shoes. After two miscarriages I went into this pregnancy with a lot of fear and distrust of my body, but this experience has helped rebuild the trust I have in my body and renewed my appreciation.

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5. Give yourself some grace, but not a free pass.
Hollywood totally glamorizes the crazy pregnancy cravings and eating entire pints of ice cream in one sitting while you’re growing a baby. While I certainly haven’t restricted my food intake while pregnant, I’ve also tried to be reasonable about the indulgences along the way. Knowing that my body only needed about 300 extra calories in the second trimester and 500 extra calories in the third trimester put my eating into perspective. I became more interested in making my calories count in the form of nutrient-dense foods rather than wasting my calories in the form of empty nutritional sources.

That said, there were plenty of times when I indulged in dessert or an extra slice of pizza and did so without any regret. There is no sense in beating yourself up along the way! There should be a few fun perks during pregnancy, right?!

6. Stay as active as possible for your mental sanity.
I had grand visions of running through my entire pregnancy and maintaining a fairly intense workout routine. However, I experienced horrible groin pain from about 17 weeks on, making exercise, especially running, difficult. I quickly adjusted my expectations for workouts while pregnant. Running was off the table but I found that pregnancy DVDs, long walks and hand and body weight exercises were enough to keep me feeling good physically and mentally. Plus, I have to imagine that staying active while pregnant will help when I’m trying to get back in shape after baby.

7. Invest in a pregnancy wardrobe. 
This may be a debatable suggestion, but I would strongly suggest investing in some great pieces of clothing during your pregnancy. Doing so really helped me feel like myself even as my body was changing and helped me maintain a sense of personal style. Although pregnancy is “only 9 months” as many will tell you, that’s a long 9 months to wear clothing that doesn’t make you feel good about your body. There are plenty of reasonably-priced options for maternity wear. My favorites? Gap Maternity and ASOS Maternity!

Other mommas out there, what would you add to this list? 
Madison

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How far along are you? 38 weeks 4 days 
Cravings? Smoothies, orange juice, water with ice and real fruit popsicles. 
Weight Gain: At my 38 week appointment I was up 29 pounds. I’ve heard that as labor approaches sometimes you lose a few pounds? I’m guessing my total weight gain will fall right around 30 pounds for this pregnancy. 
Fears: I’ve been increasingly worried about our baby’s health. I think it’s pretty normal, but it’s hard not to worry about things going well and baby being born healthy. Just one more thing to turn over to God and realize that it’s all out of my hands, as it has been all along! 
Generally Feeling: I’ve had a terribly easy pregnancy when I really think about it, so I can hardly complain about a single thing, but in the last few weeks my nausea has started to return. Nothing as bad as it was in the first trimester, but it’s making eating a little more difficult. Additionally, sleep has been spotty. Sometimes I sleep like a rock and other times I wake up in the middle of the night for a number of hours before I can fall back asleep. And, of course, I’m waddling quite a bit these days but very thankful that I can still be active at the gym. These days working out is limited to light hand weights and lots of walking. 
Looking Forward To: Not being pregnant anymore! Seriously, I’m getting to that point where I’m dreaming about jeans with zippers and buttons, walking without a painful waddle, and wearing some of my old clothes. I know it won’t happen right away, but moving in that direction will be exciting! 
What I’ve Been Loving: My weekly doctor appointments! I’ve been doing weekly non-stress tests since 36 weeks and getting checked for progress by my doctor each week. It’s fun to be able to be hooked up to the non-stress machine and hear baby’s heartbeat for 20 minutes straight. 
Maternity Clothes? Ha! Yes, maternity clothes and a lot of Joe’s clothes for lounging around the house.
Signs of Labor? Some contractions here and there but nothing too regular. I found out this week that I’m 2 cm dialated and 70% effaced, so there is some progress being made! My doctor said I could go into labor any day or a week or two from now. 
Boy or Girl: Keeping it a surprise until March!

Lactation Cookies (3) | Espresso and Cream

For the next number of days (or perhaps weeks?!) I think I’ll be talking about how we’re in “the home stretch” with this pregnancy. At 38 weeks and 2 days pregnant, not that anyone is counting, I’m quite ready to be done being pregnant and meet our little peanut! I’ve been doing a little nesting around the house over the past few weeks, cleaning the house from top to bottom and organizing every drawer and closet in our house, except for that really scary one filled with clothes that no longer fit me in the basement.

I’ve also been doing a little cooking, although not nearly as much as I thought I would. I had grand visions of making a thousand healthy freezer meals to eat at a moment’s notice, but instead we settled for going to Costco and stocking our basement freezer with frozen lasagna, loaves of whole wheat bread, soups and frozen pizza.

The one thing I did make from scratch, however, were these lactation cookies. I’ve heard great things about different types of lactation cookies over the years but never really paid much attention to them until I actually had a need for my own recipe. Most of the recipes I found online were laden with lots of butter, sugar and white flour. And while I totally support cookies made with traditional ingredients, I know that I’ll also be trying to lose the baby weight and eat a little more healthfully in the months to come.

Lactation Cookies | Espress and Cream

I decided to play around with finding a happy balance, creating a cookie that’s both delicious and semi-healthy. I cut the butter down a bit and reduced the sugar. Additionally, I added plenty of flax seed and oats and used a mix of all-purpose and whole wheat flour. I think the end result is a cookie that tastes amazing and slightly sweet but also doesn’t leave you feeling guilty after you eat one, or two, or three. Not that I would know or anything.

Lactation Cookies
Serves: 30
 
Ingredients
  • 1 cup butter
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup ground flax seed
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ¾ cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 tablespoons brewer's yeast
  • 2½ cups rolled oats
  • ¾ cup dark chocolate chips
  • ½ cup chopped pecans or walnuts
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 375F. Spray a large cookie sheet with nonstick cooking spray or line with parchment. Set aside.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter on medium speed until smooth, about 30 seconds to 1 minute. Add in the sugar, brown sugar and flax seed and beat until fluffy, about 2 minutes more, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary.
  3. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, followed by the vanilla.
  4. In a large bowl, combine the flour, whole wheat flour, baking soda and brewer's yeast. Add dry ingredients to butter mixture and beat until just combined. Beat in the oats, followed by the dark chocolate chips and nuts.
  5. Spoon dough by heaping tablespoons onto baking sheet. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until golden brown around the edges. Cool 5 minutes on baking sheet. Cool completely on wire cooling rack.

 

Banana Bread Doughnuts (2) | Espresso and Cream
I now fully understand why everyone says that the last few weeks of pregnancy are the longest weeks. There is something very strange about technically being “full term” knowing baby could arrive any day while being fully aware that baby could still be a month (!) away from his/her arrival. The suspense! The patience! I’m not great with the whole patience thing and have never really loved surprises, so you can imagine how this is all going over with me.

I’m working hard on keeping myself busy after a number of friends suggested that’s the best way to keep yourself sane and happy. I’ve got a pedicure on the calendar and a hair color appointment, along with a bunch of coffee dates and a to-do list of house-related projects. Hopefully I’ll welcome baby relaxed, pampered and fully socialized, right?!

Banana Bread Doughnuts (3) | Espresso and Cream
I’ve also been doing quite a bit of baking lately since I have the extra time on my hands. These Baked Banana Bread Doughnuts set a record in our house for how quickly they were consumed. I ate one, my husband ate 11 and they were gone in 24 hours. I’m not kidding! I’ll take that as a sign that these babies are one of the better recipes that I’ve made lately. But I’ll let you be the judge of that.

Banana Bread Doughnuts (1) | Espresso and Cream

Baked Banana Bread Doughnuts
Author: 
Recipe type: Breakfast, Snack
Serves: 12
 
Ingredients
  • Doughnuts
  • ¾ cup all-purpose flour
  • ¾ cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 3 very ripe bananas, mashed
  • ½ cup vegetable or canola oil
  • Doughnut Glaze
  • ¼ cup milk
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • Garnish
  • Additional powdered sugar for dusting (optional)
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 350F. If your doughnut pan is nonstick (I think most are) then do not spray. Otherwise, if it isn't nonstick, spray with cooking spray and set aside.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, whole wheat flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon until well combined.
  3. In a second bowl, stir together the egg, sugar, bananas and oil until well combined. Add to dry ingredients and stir until just combined.
  4. Spoon some of the batter into each of the doughnut pans with a spoon. Alternately, you can spoon the batter into a pastry bag and pipe the batter into the pans, if desired.
  5. Bake 10 to 14 minutes or until toothpick inserted into doughnuts comes out nearly clean with just a few moist crumbs. Cool 10 minutes in pan. Remove from pan and cool completely on wire cooling rack.
  6. Meanwhile, stir together the milk and powdered sugar. Spoon glaze over warm doughnuts. Dust with powdered sugar, if desired.

 

 

 

No Makeup Photo

Okay, this post’s title is a little bit of a joke when you consider the photo above, but I just had to bop in and share a little tip that’s been making a huge difference in how my hair looks and how often I have to wash and dry it.

Now that my hair is getting on the longer side, it’s become more and more of a hassle to blow dry. I am to only wash my hair 2-3 times a week to keep it healthy and to save me time, so anything that can help my hair look good for days on end is something I’m interested in! I don’t quite remember where, but a few months ago I remember reading about how to keep your blow-out looking great for days on end. The tip said that when you’re sleeping at night, the key is to take all your hair and put it in a loose, super high pony tail.

I’ll admit that I was skeptical at first but I agreed to give it a try. And you know what? It totally worked! Something about the high nature of the pony tail left a much less noticeable crease in my hair the next day and helped keep the volume created when blow drying. So, in case you’re looking to speed up your routine and wash/dry your hair less, give it a try!

Madison

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