Nobody warned me that I’d love being pregnant

I have never felt more empowered, powerful and confident in my own skin.

Nobody warned me that I’d love being pregnant

Before I became pregnant, I heard so many horror stories about pregnancy that I mentally braced myself for what I thought would be the most miserable nine months of my life. I quickly realized that the well-intentioned mamas who tried to prepare me weren't exaggerating about the physical and mental challenges of this extraordinary journey. (But, I’ve realized, they were leaving out a lot of the fun, surprising-in-a-good-way, amazing parts of pregnancy.)

The challenges are there—believe me. Nausea (and not just in the morning). Extreme fatigue. Body parts that ache 24/7. Food aversions. Labored breathing. Running to the restroom before I leave the house only to realize five minutes into a car ride that, yep, I needed to pee again.

Unsolicited comments on everything from the appearance of my bump to whether or not my husband and I were "trying" to why we weren't finding out the gender of our unborn child. The roller coaster of emotions—laughing one second then crying the next. A little voice of self-doubt whispering whether I truly have what it takes to be a good mother.

But the most shocking development of all is that I have never felt more empowered, powerful and confident in my own skin. And—dare I say it—I have never felt sexier than I do now at 20 weeks pregnant. ?

My growing bump is a source of pride. My husband makes it a point every single day to crouch down to kiss my belly and to marvel at the life we've created. I feel blessed to be able to bring a child into this world, and all of the other sacrifices pale in comparison.

Tracking my baby's progress each week has given me a newfound appreciation for the strength of the female body—beautiful in all its stages. There is something so liberating about focusing on the incredible feats it can accomplish instead of merely what it looks like on the outside.

It wasn't always this way, though. In the beginning, after confirming the life-changing news, I was euphoric but overwhelmed by the magnitude of it all. The reflection in the mirror felt as uncomfortably foreign and intimate to me as staring into a stranger's eyes.

With how-big-can-they-possibly-get breasts (little did I know...), painful acne, widening hips, and a bloated belly reminiscent of the freshman fifteen (it took a longer time than I imagined to develop that cute bump), I was taken aback by this traumatizing second puberty.

It was a far cry from my bikini-clad figure just a few months prior during our summer vacation in Europe. I was in that awkward in-between stage where old clothes no longer fit yet I was swimming in maternity items.

Two months after finding out I was pregnant, we celebrated my husband's best friend's wedding. I recall contorting and panting to get a floor-length black gown over my newly-earned curves, nervous my body would betray the secret that I held close to my heart.

Rather than playing it safe sitting in the corner, I abandoned all of my insecurities to dance the night away with my oldest and dearest friends, and indulge a little too much in the dessert hour (pregnancy does have its perks!). My happiness must have been palpable because a few people stopped in their tracks to tell me I had never looked better.

It wasn't until I surrendered control, and started owning the miracle within me that my mindset drastically shifted.

We don't lose our beauty overnight when we become mothers. If anything, it magnifies tenfold because of the life we are carrying.

We don't have to choose between being motherly OR sexy, fierce, career-driven, funny—we can still be *all* of those things. ? Even if our entire wardrobe now consists of leggings (FTW!) and underwire bras are a distant memory.

So mamas, the next time you get down on your appearance during pregnancy:

Remember that your body knows exactly what it’s doing to nourish and develop this remarkable little person that you have dreamed about for so long. (Ditch the scale—you don’t need a number to tell you what you’re worth.)

Remember that when your partner tells you that you look beautiful, you should believe them. Surround yourself with positive, supportive people and energy during this time.

Remember that you deserve to splurge on some maternity items that are super comfortable, fit well, and make you feel more like your fabulous self.

Remember that watching our bodies transform is so many things—confusing, awkward, wild, amazing, and empowering. It’s totally okay to loathe the process but love the hard-earned outcome.

Although you might not believe it now, one day you might look down at your tummy and miss those precious kicks and movements. ? It’s going to be over before you know it.

And, mama, mostly what I want you to remember is that motherhood looks amazing on you. ?

Time-saving formula tips our editors swear by

Less time making bottles, more time snuggling.

As a new parent, it can feel like feeding your baby is a full-time job—with a very demanding nightshift. Add in the additional steps it takes to prepare a bottle of formula and, well… we don't blame you if you're eager to save some time when you can. After all, that means more time for snuggling your baby or practicing your own well-deserved self-care.

Here's the upside: Many, many formula-feeding mamas before you have experienced the same thing, and they've developed some excellent tricks that can help you mix up a bottle in record time. Here are the best time-saving formula tips from editors here at Motherly.

1. Use room temperature water

The top suggestion that came up time and time again was to introduce bottles with room temperature water from the beginning. That way, you can make a bottle whenever you need it without worrying about warming up water—which is a total lifesaver when you have to make a bottle on the go or in the middle of the night.

2. Buy online to save shopping time

You'll need a lot of formula throughout the first year and beyond—so finding a brand like Comforts, which offers high-quality infant formula at lower prices, will help you save a substantial amount of money. Not to mention, you can order online or find the formula on shelves during your standard shopping trip—and that'll save you so much time and effort as well.

3. Pre-measure nighttime bottles

The middle of the night is the last time you'll want to spend precious minutes mixing up a bottle. Instead, our editors suggest measuring out the correct amount of powder formula into a bottle and putting the necessary portion of water on your bedside table. That way, all you have to do is roll over and combine the water and formula in the bottle before feeding your baby. Sounds so much better than hiking all the way to the kitchen and back at 3 am, right?

4. Divide serving sizes for outings

Before leaving the house with your baby, divvy up any portions of formula and water that you may need during your outing. Then, when your baby is hungry, just combine the pre-measured water and powder serving in the bottle. Our editors confirm this is much easier than trying to portion out the right amount of water or formula while riding in the car.

5. Memorize the mental math

Soon enough, you'll be able to prepare a bottle in your sleep. But, especially in the beginning or when increasing your baby's serving, the mental math can take a bit of time. If #mombrain makes it tough to commit the measurements to memory, write up a cheat sheet for yourself or anyone else who will prepare your baby's bottle.

6. Warm up chilled formula with water

If you're the savvy kind of mom who prepares and refrigerates bottles for the day in advance, you'll probably want to bring it up to room temperature before serving. Rather than purchase a bottle warmer, our editors say the old-fashioned method works incredibly well: Just plunge the sealed bottle in a bowl of warm water for a few minutes and—voila!—it's ready to serve.

Another great tip? Shop the Comforts line on to find premium baby products for a fraction of competitors' prices. Or, follow @comfortsforbaby for more information!

This article was sponsored by The Kroger Co. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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There is rightfully a lot of emphasis on preparing for the arrival of a new baby. The clothes! The nursery furniture! The gear! But, the thing about a baby registry is, well, your kids will keep on growing. Before you know it, they'll have new needs—and you'll probably have to foot the bill for the products yourself.

Thankfully, you don't have to break the bank when shopping for toddler products. Here are our favorite high-quality, budget-friendly finds to help with everything from meal time to bath time for the toddler set.

Comforts Fruit Crisps Variety Pack

Comforts fruit snacks

If there is one thing to know about toddlers, it is this: They love snacks. Keeping a variety on hand is easy when the pack already comes that way! Plus, we sure do appreciate that freeze-dried fruit is a healthier alternative to fruit snacks.

Comforts Electrolyte Drink

Comforts electrolyte drink

Between running (or toddling!) around all day and potentially developing a pickier palate, many toddlers can use a bit of extra help with replenishing their electrolytes—especially after they've experienced a tummy bug. We suggest keeping an electrolyte drink on hand.

Comforts Training Pants

Comforts training pants

When the time comes to start potty training, it sure helps to have some training pants on hand. If they didn't make it to the potty in time, these can help them learn their body's cues.

Comforts Nite Pants

comforts nite pants

Even when your toddler gets the hang of using the toilet during the day, nighttime training typically takes several months longer than day-time training. In the meantime, nite pants will still help them feel like the growing, big kid they are.

Comforts Baby Lotion

comforts baby lotion

Running, jumping, playing in sand, splashing in water—the daily life of a toddler can definitely irritate their skin! Help put a protective barrier between their delicate skin and the things they come into contact with every day with nourishing lotion.

Another great tip? Shopping the Comforts line on to find premium baby products for a fraction of competitors' prices—and follow along on social media to see product releases and news at @comfortsforbaby.

This article was sponsored by The Kroger Co. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

Our Partners

It's science: Why your baby stops crying when you stand up

A fascinating study explains why.

When your baby is crying, it feels nearly instinctual to stand up to rock, sway and soothe them. That's because standing up to calm babies is instinctual—driven by centuries of positive feedback from calmed babies, researchers have found.

"Infants under 6 months of age carried by a walking mother immediately stopped voluntary movement and crying and exhibited a rapid heart rate decrease, compared with holding by a sitting mother," say authors of a 2013 study published in Current Biology.

Even more striking: This coordinated set of actions—the mother standing and the baby calming—is observed in other mammal species, too. Using pharmacologic and genetic interventions with mice, the authors say, "We identified strikingly similar responses in mouse pups as defined by immobility and diminished ultrasonic vocalizations and heart rate."

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