How you can learn to love your pregnant body
It goes without saying that pregnancy is a wonderful, beautiful blessing. And while it is a privilege to be able to become pregnant, carry and labor a healthy baby, that doesn’t mean that pregnancy doesn’t come with its fair share of difficulties.
There’s hormonal shifts, exhaustion, nausea, weight gain, insomnia, and a slew of other physical and emotional hurdles that you encounter over the span of 10 months that can make it extremely difficult to feel good in the skin you’re living in.
And for body conscious women, one of the most difficult hurdles to deal with is adjusting to the physical changes that your body is going through.
At 28 weeks pregnant, with just 12 weeks left to go, I’m experiencing first hand how rapidly my body is changing. And admittedly, it has been really difficult to come to terms with at times.
Of course, you can’t control the fact that your body is growing and expanding (at what feels like a rapid pace). But I have learned along the way that there are a few key things that you can do that will genuinely help you feel better about yourself during this experience.
And that’s exactly what I am talking about in today’s post. So read on to learn more about how I do my best to overcome feeling overly self-conscious about my growing body during pregnancy.
Don’t agonize over what you see in the mirror
For most pregnant women, your belly won’t be the only part of you that gets bigger.
Despite my best efforts to eat well and exercise, I still found myself somewhat disappointed to see that my boobs, arms and legs were getting bigger too!
I addressed this with my doctor, who reminded me that our bodies are designed to store fat once you become pregnant, so there is no need to get too upset or panic when these changes happen. And if it seems like everyone else’s body handles pregnancy differently than yours, well that’s true because how much fat the body stores depends entirely on the individual and their body type.
Once I understood this, I decided to stop agonizing over what I saw in the mirror. And it was one of the best things I did for myself. Staring at my reflection just triggers me to become overly critical of myself and focus on vanity instead of the more important aspects of being pregnant, like my health and carrying a healthy baby.
Stealing a quick glance of myself instead of fixating on what I look like or how big I’ve gotten, really makes a world of difference.
Forego the cravings and maintain a healthy diet
For many women, pre-pregnancy diets are often boring and restricted. So when the time comes, you can’t help but look forward to letting go, giving in to your cravings and indulging in all of the foods that you normally stay away from - without any of the associated guilt that usually comes with it.
Personally, this was never something I bought into because I strongly believe that a diet lacking in proper nutrition won’t leave you (or your baby) feeling very good. It just leaves you feeling lethargic and bad about yourself.
Prior to becoming pregnant, my diet was comprised of mostly plant-based whole foods, and I’ve continued to eat this way throughout my pregnancy. And I feel great because of it. I continue to have tons of energy; my skin is clear and glowing (without the assistance of my dermatologist or the acne banishing products I’m used to); I sleep well; I’m able to exercise daily; and I’ve gained a healthy amount of weight at a moderate pace.
I attribute all of this to maintaining a healthy diet, filled with whole grains, healthy fats, plant proteins, fruits and a ton of vegetables. And I am absolutely certain that I would not and could not feel this good if it weren’t for my diet.
Eating well has been and continues to be a huge source of strength and pride for me during my pregnancy, and I whole-heartedly believe it would be for others too.
Establish a workout routine that makes you feel capable and strong
Staying active and sticking with a regular workout routine is so important while you’re pregnant. But, without adjustments and modifications, exercising while you’re pregnant can feel pretty awful- even for the those of us who are in great shape.
About half way through my second trimester, I started to notice that I couldn’t quite keep up during most of my pre-pregnancy workouts that I could perform easily just months prior. Dance cardio, spinning, high intensity interval training, etc. had me feeling slow, weak and bloody exhausted.
While I was proud of myself for attempting to keep up with these rigorous workouts, I didn’t necessarily feel good or accomplished once they were over.
Eventually, I changed things up and tried lower impact workouts, such as prenatal yoga, pilates and low intensity steady state cardio like walking or moderate hiking. And I felt so much better for it.
Remaining active has been a huge mood lifter during my pregnancy, but it was only once I began to focus on workouts that I was actually capable of performing did I feel capable, strong and accomplished.
Surround yourself with people that help you feel good about yourself
Pregnancy is one of the most physical and emotional journeys that a woman will go on. And dealing with your growing body every day is definitely one of the toughest parts.
Learning to deal with all of the unwanted dialogue that can come with being pregnant is also really difficult.
Fielding comments about how big you look, dealing with guesses as to how far along you are based on the size of your belly, or hearing that you can ‘really see it in your face’ - from just about everyone you encounter, for most women, is downright annoying and hurtful.
To effectively deal with this type of thing, I’ve made a point of steering clear of people and conversations where I feel like my life or body are constantly on display or open for discussion. And when I can’t avoid someone entirely I do my best to try and set the tone for how I think a pleasant conversation should go, by not talking too much about my pregnancy and focus on other topics instead.
In addition to this, I really try to surround myself with people who make me feel good. It makes a huge difference in my mood and how I feel about myself when I am surrounded by people who make me laugh, offer support instead of their opinions and enjoy talking about more than just pregnancy.
If you’ve spent a significant amount of time during or after pregnancy wondering how, if or when you will ‘get your body back’ - you’re not alone. I wonder about this sometimes, too.
But the truth is, you won’t get that body back. Ever. You have a new body now. A body that created, grew and carried a little human inside of it for 9 months. A body that can and may feed your child for several weeks, months or even years.
I’m excited to get to know this new body of mine. This new body is stronger, more capable and more resilient than I ever could have imagined. It has already taught me so much in such a short amount of time! I may not know what exactly to expect a few months from now; but I do know that when the time comes, after my baby has arrived, and we feel ready, that my new body and I will figure things out together. We will learn how to move again, embrace new challenges together, and push each other to reach new heights. And it will be great.