I’ve written before about the benefits and importance of positive body image while pregnant and I really believe that it’s an important topic that’s often not discussed. I constantly hear gorgeous pregnant women refer to themselves as “whales,” as the “size of a house”, and express worry about how much weight they gain and how they will ever lose it after the baby’s born. I know that healthy weight gain is an important aspect of a healthy pregnancy, but that negative talk is not healthy and it’s important to let go of it.
I really do believe this, work hard at it, and yet I find it to be a near-daily struggle for me. I don’t do well with change — especially when it comes to my own body. My heart knows that waking up with a bigger abdomen and breasts means my baby is growing in a healthy way, that this pregnancy is going the way I hoped, and that is an amazing thing after struggling for so long to carry to term. My head, which loves to mess with me a lot when it comes to body image and self esteem, tells me a different thing than my heart. It hard for me to work at gaining weight to sustain a pregnancy. I dread getting weighed at the prenatal appointment — even though it’s not anything I’ve ever had to worry about, gaining too much. I’ve lost weight this pregnancy and all my pregnancies in the past (thanks, hyperemesis gravidarum) and truth-be-told, I don’t really enjoy waking up to discover my clothes no longer cover my belly.
I am very aware of this though, and so is my husband; I can clearly recognize the conflicting conversations between my heart and my head. I work daily on embracing this growing and changing shape, and feeling grateful that my baby boy is growing — we want him to be as big as we can get him since the risk of developing IUGR (intrauterine growth restriction) is a factor. I would be lying to you if I said that I am wonderfully in the moment of embracing my shape everyday, but it’s something I really work on.
If you’re finding it difficult to feel joy in your changing body or you too are having the conflicting conversations between your head and your heart, here are some ways I help myself embrace and love my changing pregnant shape:
7 Ways to Embrace and Love Your Changing Pregnant Shape 1 of 8
If you're struggling with a positive body image during pregnancy, here are 7 ways I help myself feel better about my changing shape:
Focus on the Positives 2 of 8
I do my best to remind myself each time a negative thought comes into my head that this means all good things. I focus on the health of the baby, what I love about my new shape, and take the focus off the negatives I see.
Talk It Out 3 of 8
My husband listens to me when I need to vent about how I am feeling. What I feel isn't wrong, but it's not the best to dwell on it -- so I don't. I chat it out and leave it there.
Get Yourself Something Pretty 4 of 8
If I am feeling negative, I do something that will make myself feel better. I may go get a cute pair of underwear or I will put on my favorite shade of lipstick. It always helps me feel better.
Take Good Care of Your Skin 5 of 8
My skin is so far from perfect, but taking care of it makes me feel better. I have a nighttime and daytime skin care routine that just gives me something positive to focus on.
Visit the Spa 6 of 8
Whether it's getting a brow wax, haircut, or mani/pedi, going to the spa always helps me feel better about myself. It's not only the final product, but the process that just seems to rejuvenate my spirit.
Exercise 7 of 8
Those endorphins make everyone feel better and I am no exception. I try to make sure I am outside walking for about 30 minutes a day. It helps me feel better that I can still move well (you know that gets harder the later in pregnancy), plus the fresh air and endorphins always helps me feel more on the positive side.
Put On Well-Fitting Maternity Clothes 8 of 8
This pregnancy, for some fluke reason (probably all the puking and baby being so high up), I am still fitting well into my non-maternity pants, but once I got myself a handful of comfortable maternity tops -- I instantly felt better. Having clothes that adapt to my shape so that I don't wake up without anything to wear does the trick of eliminating the focus too much on how much bigger I am growing.
Bonus tip: Try to brush off the random comments you’ll hear from well-meaning people about how big you are — like the comment my 4-year old said to me today.
:: How have you been struggling with body image and self esteem during your pregnancy? Share in the comments! ::
Photo credits: © AccustomedChaos | Instagram
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Devan is a freelance writer living in Toronto, Ontario with her husband, three kids and expecting baby #4 at the end of this year. Read more from Devan on Babble and “like” Accustomed Chaos on Facebook!