I am on my 30th week of pregnancy and needless to say I am counting.  For some weird reason, my head is filled with thoughts of dread nothing to do with labour or bringing out the baby; flashes of pregnant Elsa Pataky getting mocked at this year’s Oscars and accused for carrying a “beer belly” and not a twin-pregnant bump crosses my mind. I am also reminded how Bollywood actress Aishwarya Rai became the butt of all cruel jibes and extreme criticism last year for not “bouncing” back to her former self in a matter of months. Ironically, most of the jibes in both cases came from men or women who choose not to have a baby (absolutely nothing wrong with it though).

We do live in a funny world where we expect newbie mums to suddenly become alpha mothers with a perfect waistline. Because anything less than that is an unworthy sight, apparently. I do have my moments of doubt, moments when I think I look like a baby elephant and that my prized legs would never be the same again. But accepting my body comes naturally to me—I was a size UK 12 when I was my biggest and a size UK 6 when I was the smallest (just few months before my pregnancy). Surprisingly, the earth did not shatter or my brains and smarts did not stop working when I was a 12. Life (and a bloody good one at that), went on.

Pregnancy_test_result

Till now, I have only felt wonderment towards my own blossoming curves. If at all, pregnancy has brought in greater respect and appreciation to the wonderful, goddess-like female form. And every time, the sliver of doubt enters my mind, I quickly remind myself of what my hubby and my BFF often tells me, “A life chose to live and develop there, enjoy it, nurture it, treat it like the blessing it is.” Truer words have not been spoken.

Almost everyone will tell you that pregnancy is a wonderful journey what no one will tell you that it is equally challenging. Throughout these 40 weeks (that is almost 10 months) you experience some or other pain, you experience massive mood swings that makes your regular PMS seem like a cake walk and yet this little life develops from the size of a rice grain to a full-fledged human being; oblivious to everything.

I still don’t know how us women get the strength to go through this journey but one thing I am sure of is this: those who call the female gender the weaker sex should definitely get their brains tested because my friends there is nothing “weak” about this whole journey.  As American actress Betty White famously said, “Why do people say “grow some balls”? Balls are weak and sensitive. If you wanna be tough, grow a vagina. Those things can take a pounding.”And the journey is over only after an intensive (mostly) period of labour; after a good amount of pounding. Isn’t it incredible that only if us women decide to go through this journey; life as we know would perpetuate?

To me, it has been (so far) a rather powerful journey. But as they say with great power comes great responsibility. I would loath if my child is enslaved to the weighing scale ever; or if she or he fails to understand that we are more than our bodies; that there are so many things that makes a person attractive and that beauty is not just restricted to some size numbers.

I have begun to accept the stretched skin, the stripes and even the scars I will get because I know pregnancy is only the dress rehearsal to parenthood that will teach me to yield and adapt. Most women tell me that eventually you forget about the stretch marks, the squishy belly and expanding thighs; because there is a lifetime of selflessness and compassion to be learnt. Suddenly, “bouncing” back to your former shape seems last of the challenge that motherhood bestows, isn’t it?

Now, despite knowing this truth; if someone has the nerve to critise the wonderful female body and not give it the respect it deserves, this is what I will tell them, “Why don’t you try squeezing something the size of a watermelon out of an opening the size of a lemon and see how hot YOU look?”

Well, we all know the answer to that one ;).

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As my pregnancy progresses two words have entered my fashion dictionary—maternity wear. One thing I have realised is this: choosing maternity clothes is just slightly different from choosing normal clothes—the only thing you need to be mindful of is your growing bump. Initially, I was a bit apprehensive that I will have to stock up on black, baggy clothes or spend an awful lot of money to stay stylish but luckily there are plenty of options online and on high-street that could help you to stay stylish without burning your wallet.

How maternity sizes work?

First off let’s end this biggest nightmare for once and all. It took me a bit of trial and error to realise that maternity size works the same as regular size clothing (at least in the initial months). For instance, if you were wearing a small pre-pregnancy, continue with the size. You might have to go a size up as you enter your second trimester and a size or two as you enter your final one. Never ever wear non-maternity clothes that are a size or two bigger than your normal size. This is pregnancy not just weight-gain and I am pretty sure wearing frumpy, out of shape clothes is not the style you are aiming for.

In most cases, you can carry on wearing your pre-pregnancy clothes during your first trimester (especially if this is your first pregnancy) but you would need maternity bottoms as you go further in your second trimester. Don’t give in to the temptation of buying belly bands and wearing your normal bottoms. I tried it only to find it is extremely uncomfortable to move freely. And as you enter your final leg of pregnancy you would certainly need maternity dresses and tops as well.

My top maternity wear essentials:

Image credit: Polyvore, UK

Image credit: Polyvore, UK

Good pair of jeans/jeggings: A comfortable pair of jeans or jeggings should be a staple (needless to say). Try out all kinds of style: over the bump, under the bump and on the bump. I do prefer over the bump variety as it makes a nice, little cocoon for the little one inside you. It is also great to pick a pair that has a bit of stretch because your hips will expand too and you don’t want to rush to a store every week. A good pair of jeans or jeggings is definitely a piece you should invest on.

Image credit: Polyvore, UK

Image credit: Polyvore, UK

Dresses: There would be days when you want to feel extra special. Dresses are my go-to style even in pregnancy. Whilst wrap and Grecian dresses are ever popular, I also like swing style dresses. Look for light weight fabrics like lace or jersey.

Image credit: H&M

Image credit: H&M

Leggings and tights: A nice, comfy pair of leggings is great for casual wear. Wear it tees and boyfriend tops for an effortless style. Over the bump leggings are also my favourite gym wear now. If someone had told about maternity tights even a month ago, I would have immediately dismissed the suggestion but as my bump grows I have realised how heavenly these make you feel when the weather out is cold. Keeps you sane, comfortable and warm.

Image credit: New Look

Image credit: New Look

Knitwear: Having light cardigans and knitwear is a great way to layer up. Layering is a must when you are pregnant because one moment you would be feeling cold only to feel extremely hot the next. Having layers would help you keep your raging hormones in check. Cardigans are also a great way to dress up your bump when you are feeling “pregnant” not in a good way.

Image credit: Polyvore UK

Image credit: Polyvore UK

Maxi dresses: There is a reason why maxi dresses are so popular with pregnant ladies—they are versatile, comfortable and there is room for your growing bump. Maxi dresses can work with all body types—just make sure you look for fabrics that drape over your curves without hugging the wrong spots.

Best places to shop:

ASOS maternity: Ever since a former colleague introduced me to ASOS, I have been hooked. And ASOS maternity does not let you down. It is my favourite stop whilst shopping for quality maternity wear especially dresses. They have an array of dresses in a hue of colours and you get value for money, a win-win situation, right?

Debenhams: I like Debenhams for their selection of jeans and quality bottoms. Once again they have a selection suiting every budget.

Isabella Oliver: An undisputed authority in maternity wear, IO is favoured by the likes of Gwen Stefani and Halle Berry. Isabella Oliver is a British company was started in 2003 after the creators saw a dire need of stylish maternity clothes that celebrated a woman’s changing curves. IO has also won the Queen’s Award. If you have cash to spare then IO should be in your list. Their form fitting styles  is perfect during pregnancy when you want to show off your bump (IO is also available on ASOS).

Bottom line when it comes to pregnancy style:

Pregnancy is one the best times to celebrate your curves after all you are housing a new life. So celebrate it without worrying too much about your changing body.