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Friday, April 23, 2021

What my belly looks like: Learning about baby-making when I was 16 years old

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I was only 16 years old when I became pregnant, and on the surface everything seemed to be going beautifully with my pregnancy. I had a wonderful time at my sister’s wedding, and I went to the Roxy to see some shows with my boyfriend.

But even though we had been discussing having kids for years, we never believed I was pregnant at 16. While talking to my friend, J, while I was sleeping, her hand reached around me, her ring finger glancing to my abdomen. At the time, I just looked up and said “no.” I never imagined that we would even be having a child, let alone keeping it. I ended up going on to college and being married to my husband Brian for almost 15 years, and I now have a two-year-old son, Otis.

But even with all my accomplishments in life, pregnancy was still scary. It was the first time I had ever been in a hospital. I tried eating right, exercising, drinking plenty of water and avoiding colds and viruses. I heard a lot of women talked about their terrible, intrusive, awful pregnancies, but no one ever told me just how bad constipation could be. But Constipation is a common problem for pregnant women. With few exceptions, no one realizes there are so many places around the body that can get blocked, and they certainly don’t talk about it as much as any other serious condition during pregnancy.

Many women tend to think pregnancy is a great time to be bloated, and when the baby comes all the extra weight can feel great. On top of the weight gain, there is often a lot of bloating. But pregnant women are also weight gainers. To help me during pregnancy, my doctor offered me a diet called the Exergaming Diet. In its most basic form, it is a fairly strict regimen involving meal replacement bars, protein shakes and aerobics. The idea is to make sure we never gain more than about 20 pounds during pregnancy. From the diet’s website:

The Exergaming Diet is broken down into five meals, three each during your pregnancy. Each meal is matched to your body’s fat production, plus three workouts. Your meals include two dinners, a protein shake, a bagel and two workouts. Your two daily workouts will be for 10 minutes each.

There are many gyms and restaurants that offer classes that mimic these workouts, but this diet is a pretty comprehensive one. The Exergaming Diet says it’s given up to 100 pounds of weight loss, but other pregnancy weight loss strategies from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommended within 35 pounds. Another diet that many pregnant women turn to is Restorative Sensation, which is pretty incredible — you drink alkaline water and eat vegetable broth to help your kidneys cleanse and fight off toxins.

There was also some speculation that eating anorexic-style was the best way to keep pregnancy weight off, but I got plenty of good prenatal yoga and meditation to help with my nausea and nausea-induced diarrhea. But even though these kinds of treatments helped, I still struggled with constipation. I found it helpful to start drinking soft-serve ice cream every day right after I got pregnant. It made me feel lighter and it also helped me feel satisfied. At the same time, I started to drink really hard-boiled eggs in addition to soft-serve.

Today, I’m six and a half months pregnant with my second child. Although I struggled with constipation as I started this pregnancy, I’m not having any troubles and am better able to manage the abdominal cramps that are typical for all new mothers.

There are many different types of constipation, from severe diarrhea to slow-onset stuff. Your doctor will be able to identify which kind you have by asking you about your symptoms and ability to keep up. There is no right or wrong way to contract constipation — there are some things you should avoid.

My doctor told me a little-known factor in constipation is how the hormone follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) affects your bowels, and if you have any changes in the way you ovulate, your body may be releasing the hormone FSH to create an optimal environment for better bowel movement.

You can also use the spectrum of urogenital products to help create a better environment. One of my favorite vaginal health products is Sea Legs, an all-natural vaginal moisturizer that helps shed unwanted body fat. It also helps with constipation.

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