Danielle DuBoise is the co-founder of Sakara Life, an organic meal-delivery service that’s focused on optimal nourishment and nutrition that’s a favorite of celebs like Chrissy Teigen, Lily Aldridge, and more. Pregnant with her first child, she is sharing her most eye-opening moments so far, saying, “I hope that we can continue an open dialogue about fertility, pregnancy, and motherhood. It is during this time in a woman’s life that that no mother should feel alone—and community is more important than ever.”
Pregnancy is still, in a way, a taboo topic. Most of what you hear about is the excitement of becoming a new mom, and perhaps a few stories of hugging the toilet bowl with morning sickness. But now that I’m halfway through my pregnancy, I am realizing that there is so much more that goes on—both physically and emotionally—during pregnancy.
The first trimester wasn’t as full of the blissful feelings as I thought it would be, and though I felt incredibly grateful and excited by the idea of becoming a mother, I wasn’t prepared for all that was about to come my way. And while I’m finally now relishing in each and every change, expansion, and lesson, it took me a while to finally settle into being in a state of constant change and to finally feel like I’m having a baby. So in effort to help future mamas out there, I decided to pull away the curtain and share an honest look into the first trimester of my pregnancy and the awakenings I had.
Looking back, I realize my expectations have greatly been informed by years of Hollywood showing me what motherhood was and wasn’t.
I’m 31, an age where some of my close friends are mothers, but most of them aren’t. I’m learning as I go. And looking back, I realize my expectations have greatly been informed by years of Hollywood showing me what motherhood was and wasn’t. One of the first movies (non-Disney) I remember watching as a child was Look Who’s Talking. The first scene is a narration of how a talking sperm finds the voice-less egg (as if the life of a child begins only in the sperm) and the second was Kirstie Alley screaming on a hospital bed with bright lights and gowned doctors.
And until I got pregnant, this was pretty close to what I thought pregnancy and giving birth was like. I had never seen a movie (still haven’t) that touched on the beauty and the complexities of becoming a mother, of getting in touch with her changing body, and the spiritual growth that comes with the prospect of knowing in 10 months’ time (not nine), you’ll go through the rite of passage that is giving birth.
Below are the lessons (or shall I call them awakenings?) I have learned thus far.
1. You may mourn your maiden self, and that’s 100 percent okay
Pregnancy is all about the journey from who you were to who you will be as a mother. It’s not just about your growing child. It’s about your changes, too. I thought my body would take nine months to change—that one day my belly would just pop out and be cute like all the gorgeous moms on Instagram. But the speed of change took me by surprise and was difficult to deal with at first.
From week one my body felt different. Some of it was amazing to feel and witness, others more difficult to deal with. The clothes that I felt sexiest in were just a tiny bit snug in all the wrong places (not according to my husband, just to me), and I immediately ran to my closet and realized none of it would be wearable for the next 12–18 months. I didn’t feel as excited about the changes as I thought I would because women are taught not to get too attached to the pregnancy in the first trimester, as things are still “unpredictable.”
I mourned the body I had spent a lifetime getting to know and love and felt guilty about that.
All of a sudden the weight of change came crashing down and I missed the feeling of knowing what I felt good in. I mourned the body I had spent a lifetime getting to know and love and felt guilty about that (and if you know my story of food, dieting, and body image, you know what a struggle it was for me). Why wasn’t I so overwhelmed with love and gratitude that I effortlessly released my vanity and embraced this change?
Now I understand that mourning my maiden self was a necessary part of my journey. It forced me to grow in ways I couldn’t have imagined and allowed me to love my body in a whole new way and for whole new reasons. My maiden self thought that my body was supposed to work well and look even better. My mother self knows that my body is a vessel for life and that the way it looks will forever be inclusive and second to what it can do and create.
Your wellness routine will support your changing body—even if you have to adjust it
My diet is 80 percent Sakara meals, but somehow that wasn’t enough during my roughest bouts of morning sickness (which is a total misnomer—mine was 24-hour sickness and worse in the evenings). I craved things that I’d normally never eat, like bagels, saltines, and any other breaded things I could get my hands on.
I’ve worked very hard to let go of the guilt I used to carry around about food and my body, but it sneakily crept back in for about six weeks as I allowed myself to give in to the cravings rather than fight them. The guilt was subtle, but present. Whitney (my co-founder and best friend) suggested that anytime I have a craving like that, I just try and talk to the baby and let him or her know that my feelings about food are my own, and not ones that that they have to take on. That helped. Part of the big shift from maiden to mother is realizing how gentle you must be with yourself. This taught me grace.
I let myself sleep in a little longer. But that meant no morning workouts, and by the time evening came I was too tired to even think about working out.
My workout routine also had to change. I don’t think this is the case with every woman in early pregnancy, but it surely was for me. We women are doing a lot these days— running companies, households, working seven-day weeks, working out harder than ever, and sticking to calendars that rarely give us a moment to breathe. I think all of this impacts pregnancy.
So I decided to make a change. I let myself sleep in a little longer. But that meant no morning workouts, and by the time evening came I was too tired to even think about working out. It was hard for me to swallow this change and just take the rest I could feel my body needed. Pretty immediately, I started to notice the effects of not working out and it hit me one day that even though this little life inside of me was only the size of a peanut, it was still there, and from day one, my body was no longer just mine. That helped me to release the guilt and instead celebrate the change and ease into slower workouts and gentler routines.
You may not feel that connected to the experience at first
I consider myself a spiritual person. I am often connected to my intuition and a deeper presence and reason for being on this planet. There’s still lots of work to do, but I assumed I’d immediately connect to this little life growing inside of me—but I didn’t. I didn’t really feel much of anything (apart of the hormonal swings and bloat).
It worried me. I thought maybe something was wrong and perhaps it wasn’t a viable pregnancy (a few years ago we accidentally got pregnant and it turned out not to be viable). But a seven-week ultrasound proved that suspicion wrong—everything was great, including a strong, loud heartbeat.
It wasn’t until week 11 or so that I started to feel connected to the pregnancy. I realized it wasn’t just because I needed time; it was also a way to protect my heart.
I was thrilled, but then the lack of connection meant that it was due to me, not any issues. My beautiful friend Ally Bogard reminded me that spirits come as they please, and maybe there was no spirit to connect to just yet. I picked up the book Spirit Babies (one I recommend to any woman looking to get pregnant in the next one to two years) and was quickly reminded that connecting to anything takes time. It’s a journey.
Though my husband and I were trying to get pregnant, it happened very quickly and we were both a little shocked by the timing. I realized that I barely had time to connect to the idea of trying, much less actually being pregnant. This realization helped me take the time to connect, rather than just assuming it should be happening already. I did a lot of breathwork and Googled pregnancy meditations on YouTube (lots of good ones!) that helped me release my judgment and tap back into the experience itself.
It wasn’t until week 11 or so that I started to feel connected to the pregnancy. I realized it wasn’t just because I needed time; it was also a way to protect my heart. There was a massive weight lifted that I didn’t even know was there. All of a sudden it all felt really real, and with that came the wave of excitement and love I’d been craving.
It’s okay to talk about it—even early on
Society tells us that we’re not supposed to tell people about the pregnancy until after the first trimester and most of the risk of miscarriage or nonviable pregnancy has passed. I found it tough not to talk about it early on when all the changes and excitement were overwhelming.
The idea of not talking about it feels like some patriarchal or societal need to shame women for miscarriages or problems.
No matter what happens, whether it turns out to be a viable pregnancy or not, it is still something to celebrate. It’s still a miracle. The idea of not talking about it feels like some patriarchal or societal need to shame women for miscarriages or problems. I feel strongly that it’s time we all release that shame and if you feel compelled to speak about it early on, do so. You don’t have to wait until the end of the first trimester to celebrate. You may enjoy keeping it to yourself, and that’s fine, but know it’s your choice.
You should clear up some extra room in your schedule
This is a special time in a woman’s life. Not only is your body is changing, but your life is changing. The months can fly by if you don’t take the time to stop, to witness, and to listen. Change your pace as soon as you can, if you can. Savor each moment, breathe, connect, and listen. I think in an ideal world women would have pregnancy leave, not just maternity leave.
Maybe it’s just a couple of days a month to do meditative activities or find a way to tune in to your changing body and connect with the baby, and yourself. I have found changing my pace to be of incredible value in my first 12 weeks.
In an ideal world women would have pregnancy leave, not just maternity leave.
My dear friend, midwife, and doctor, Aviva Romm, MD, gave me the best piece of advice: “Do what you can, but remember that now and for the rest of its life, this baby is charting its own path. You are not there to dictate it, rather to guide it. Stay open to the process. Surrender. Be around people who make you feel really good and find your own inner strength. Expect more unlearning than learning.”
Pregnancy has taught me so much about my body and how incredible it is to be able to create life. My hope for new mamas everywhere is that we learn to embrace our own individual journey—with all the good and the tough times. We can still have a beautiful pregnancy even though we have rough patches. It doesn’t have to be either a completely good or a really hard experience—it can be both. I recently did an energy healing session with Deborah Hanekamp (AKA Mama Medicine) and something she said has stuck with me— “Your lessons are your medicine”. I love that. It made me grateful for the unexpected and the difficulties. It’s what will make me the mother I want to be. Wherever you are on your journey, may your hard times be your medicine and bring your closer to your highest self.