Our Maternity Photos & Holistic Thoughts on Pregnancy

I’ve been trying to name and start this post for at least thirty minutes! “Our Maternity Photos and Holistic Pregnancy Tips” seems underwhelming at best, but I want to share my thoughts as authentically as possible, as at almost 35 weeks into this experience, I’ve learned a lot and realize that these pretty pictures aren’t the most accurate representation of all that has happened. Although, I do love the photos and I’m so glad we took them.

NOTE: On the photography, we took these on location at the Garfield Park Conservatory and worked with photographer Todd Crawford. I wanted the shoot to feel natural and not too staged, I love how Todd brought my vision to life. Both my dresses are not maternity, or from this season (sorry!). I found the plaid dress at Nordstrom and the wild flowery dress is H&M.

I want to sprinkle some of my real pregnancy experience between the photos, because while there have been some beautiful moments, the majority of my pregnancy I’ve felt less than excited and rarely like the womanly goddess that I see strewn across magazine covers and social media. I hope that in sharing some of my experience it might help you or someone you love feel a little less pressure during this special, but intense time.

Luke and I both wanted to start a family, but weren’t in a huge rush, we mostly felt that it was important to start trying because…A. you never know how long it could take / if you’ll be able to get pregnant, and B. if we hope to have more than one child…we needed to get a move on as we are approaching our early / mid-thirties. It took us about 9 months to get pregnant, which is considered normal (most doctors advise trying for 1-year before medical intervention) but I think what really helped us was using a FERTILITY MONITORI found the monitor to be much more accurate than any app we tried, and it took a lot of the guess work out of understanding my cycle. We weren’t using it for the first six months and had not gotten pregnant. My sister-in-law actually told me about the monitor. It took about a month to get the hang of it, and then by month three we were pregnant.

Before I was pregnant, I was also pretty dedicated to working out in high-intensity classes, running, etc. I found the first 14 weeks of pregnancy really exhausting and I was very nauseous. Weird things were also happening to my hips and I had a lot of sciatic nerve pain. Needless to say, the vision I had of my pregnant self jogging around town and attending workout classes did not happen. I found that pre-natal yoga, walking and low intensity strength training were best for me (and about all I could handle). I think it’s so important to honor and listen to your body during this time of change and growth. Forcing myself to slow down was not easy, and in a way my body did it for me.

centered-by-design-pregnancy-photos

Feeling comfortable, beautiful and fashionable in a growing and changing body was important to me (and to maintaining self-esteem) but not always easy. I found that borrowing maternity clothes from friends, using a bold lip color to my advantage and buying strategic maternity separates that I could mix and match was a good combination. Two brands I love that I found both affordable and fashionable are STORQ and Motherhood Maternity. Storq has an awesome bundle package that you’ll wear over and over again, and MM has the biggest selection of over the belly leggings and jeans. I lived in my items from both brands, had some great dresses on loan from friends, and also tried to buy non-maternity pieces I could wear after baby, such as casual loose sweaters or free-flowing dresses.

centered-by-design-maternity-motherhood-photos

Talking to recent new mom friends, finding a doctor I really liked, reading trusted blogs/books and talking with my yoga teacher (and trained doula) are all other strategies that have helped me stay centered and calm during the weeks leading up to the big due date. While we did not hire a doula (a doula can be thought of like a birth coach, someone there to help you and your partner through the process) we did take several classes with nurses and doulas to help us better prepare for labor and delivery. Many hospitals and local midwife or birthing centers offer great classes to help you feel more ready for child birth, no matter your plans, expectations, etc. We took a breast feeding class, labor and delivery class, (both offered through Northwestern Hospital) and met with a doula to review breathing techniques, birthing positions and generally get on the same page about expectations and preparing for the unexpected. This article – “Ten Things I Always Tell Pregnant Women,” from A Cup of Jo, is one of my favorites with great advice for all types of expecting parents from author and doula, Erica Chidi Cohen.

centered-by-design-pregnancy-thoughts

As I’ve been able to feel baby move and have become more visibly pregnant, I am getting more and more excited to meet this miraculous little person and share this experience with Luke. I know that this is just the beginning of our journey, and have had many friends say that becoming new parents has been the hardest and yet most rewarding thing they’ve ever done. It’s scary and also incredible to imagine what 2018 will have in store for us. Wherever you might be in your own journey to motherhood or parenthood, I wish you lots of love.

outdoor maternity photos chicago outdoor maternity photos chicago garfield park

XOXO – CLAIRE