When I was young, something bothered me about my mom’s two front teeth: One was darker than the other. She’s a good-looking woman, my mom. To see her looks marred by this little detail irritated me to no end. Even when technology afforded that tiny flaw fixed, it still bothered me.
Then I discovered and understood what had happened: When I was in my mom’s womb, I had fed off her calcium supply, affecting her teeth. Now if there’s one thing I’m deathly afraid of, it’s losing my teeth. Not banlag (squint-eyed), not overly balbon (hairy), not sakang (bow-legged). And so to prevent myself from being the object of jokes, and to avoid having my teeth capped because of a calcium-voracious fetus, I chopped off my hair when I became pregnant with my first child.
I am no Halle Berry or Pink; I am not one of those lucky, lucky women who only grows a bump while her limbs and behind remain un-mommy-fied. So even if my face shape and personality can carry a pixie (or even a crew cut), that minimal tuft of hair crowning my pregnant body only exaggerated how pudgy I became. Remember that scene in the original Willy Wonka, when the naughty girl named Violet was rolled out of the bubblegum experiment room? That’s me six months into my pregnancy.
Knowing what I know now, during my pregnancy I would have:
1. Doubled up on my calcium. And I shouldn’t have cut my hair, or cut it so short. And I would’ve gone to an excellent stylist.
2. Taken better care of my skin. If I blame my pregnancy hormones for making me forget about going to a good stylist in 1997, I blame my Ilocano blood for scrimping on a good moisturizer for my stressed-out belly, thighs, and breasts. Sisters: Slather on all the anti-stretchmark cream you can get your hands on! Even if you’re genetically predisposed to stretchmarks, you will still greatly benefit: Your skin will turn so soft and irresistibly smooth, your partner won’t be able to keep his hands off you!
3. Had more sex! Stop “acting” the way a pregnant woman is “supposed” to act, i.e., stuffing her face with green mangoes and bacon and waddling around in checkered tent dresses. A woman’s pregnant body is sexy! Vaginal lubrication increases and the genital area becomes more engorged, making your orgasms more intense. The first trimester may be uncomfortable, with all the getting up and peeing you have to do, but the second and third trimester - provided you’re having a low-risk, normal pregnancy - can be a joy. Besides, at this point in your relationship, you and your partner would have overcome any inhibitions. Plus, your breasts would have grown twice their size, which make for very nice playthings for him and you to enjoy. (A word of warning: During oral sex, your partner should not blow air into your vagina. This can cause an air embolism which could be fatal to mother and child.)
4. Tried yoga. Prenatal yoga classes were hard to come by in 1997, but they’re easily accessible now. The stretches, postures, and lessons in pranayama (breathing) are gentle enough even for beginners, and will help you come delivery time. If you’ve got the extra time and budget, I encourage you to join a class. But remember to always consult your ob-gyne before embarking on a new exercise. At any rate, getting and staying active during a normal pregnancy is healthy for you and the baby. It will help keep your weight within normal range during, and speed up the weight loss process after.