How to: Improve Your Pregnancy Body ImageJan 12, 2022
I honestly feel so blessed that I did some major work to heal my body image before I ever got pregnant with my first. It’s really changed how I see my evolving body and my relationship to food and how I can enjoy it with my kids. But to be totally honest, I HAD to do that tough mental work even to get pregnant. I wasn’t getting a period for years because of how restrictive I was with food and how much I overdid it on exercise.
I know plenty of women, including my own clients, haven’t gone through the same experience, so when they get pregnant and start gaining weight, they feel like their body isn’t their own and like they need to control it. Or like they’re going to have a mental breakdown because they don’t have control of it. It all comes back to having a positive body image.
I get it. Before you were with baby, you could exercise and eat how you wanted and your body was your own. Not something you had to share with someone else. And while that’s a sentiment I’ve never experienced personally, I have so much empathy for it because of how many people I work with who do experience pregnancy that way. It’s a lot of change because you’re not just gaining weight in your belly, your thighs, your boobs, even your face will gain weight.. and then there’s the bloating.
It’s not fun feeling like you’ve lost control, but you can choose how you experience your pregnant body.
Here are some tips I share with clients:
1. You don’t have to love how your pregnant body looks right now, but you do have to respect it.
Loving your body is a lot of pressure; not everyone thinks the belly is beautiful. I get it (although I do!). Loving your unpregnant body is hard for so many of us, so as it changes, it makes sense you could feel differently. You might not always love your pregnant body, but you can decide that you will always respect and honor it no matter how you feel.
- This means you’re not talking badly about your body to your partner or your friends.
- You’re nourishing yourself, not restricting.
- You’re not over-exercising if you indulged in a craving
Your body is always worthy of kindness and respect even if you don’t feel attractive or cute or beautiful.
2. Don’t compare yourself to other pregnant women.Some women gain weight in the first trimester. Some lose it. Some women gain 20 pounds, some gain 40 (hello 🙋🏼♀️!!)
Every experience, everybody, is different!
Throw the idea of an average pregnant body out the window because every single body is different – pregnant or not. Remember, a woman’s body is designed to store fat when pregnant. And every woman stores fat in different places, depending on body type. So instead of agonizing over what you see in the mirror (and comparing it to what you see on your Instagram feed), shift your focus onto more important things like your health and the health of your baby.
3. How you look is the least impressive thing about you.
This is something I often remind myself of if I’m having a moment about how I look from my face to my body. From diet culture, there is so much damn pressure on us to look perfect. And this doesn’t let up in pregnancy.
I used to rely on looking good to feel good, which didn’t work out for me. But when the make-up came off, or if I gained a little weight – I felt ugly and fat and then good enough in life. So here’s the takeaway, don’t let a photo you don’t like of yourself or a little pregnancy weight ruin your holidays or a vacation or a special time in your life. You choose to see yourself differently by reminding yourself that you are so much more than how you look.
4. Prepare yourself for rude or unsolicited comments from strangers.
I know clients who have been asked
“Are you having twins?! Your belly is so big!
And I got
“Are you really pregnant? There’s no way.”
For some reason, people think it’s ok to comment on your body and the way that it looks and both types of comments can make you feel absolutely awful. But you know what? Whoever says that to you has no idea what it looks like or feels like to be pregnant. I know I cried and so did my clients. They probably have never been pregnant themselves. I seriously wish people would stop making these comments… but in the meantime, we all have to remember what my mom told me when it happened to me “don’t pay any attention to it.” Pregnancy on its own is hard enough.
5. Don’t worry about the perfect weight gain, and worry more about being HEALTHY.
There is all this pressure to gain the perfect amount of weight ok pregnancy, but there is no perfect weight. Your body will gain what it needs. All this pressure isn’t helped by the fact that you’re exhausted and starving and craving all the fried, greasy foods. This is a great opportunity to listen to your body.
If you want to do the right thing for your body, focus instead on healthy habits. Pregnancy safe workouts. Healthy, simple recipes. You can also order in or go for walks. Do what feels good for YOU. NOW.
6. You look exactly how you should for someone who is ___ weeks pregnant.
Going back to the fact that everybody’s body is different, every bump looks different even if they’re the same amount of weeks. If you’re in that comparison mode or feel uncomfortable with the little human inside of you, remind yourself of this fact.
7. Remember everything your amazing body is doing right now.
You’re growing a freaking HUMAN! Instead of focusing on what your body looks like, think about all of the incredible things it’s doing and the life it’s growing. No matter what week you are, something amazing is happening inside that belly! You’re growing brains or toes or kidneys as we speak! This pregnancy will be over before you know it, so even though it’s hard, try to be grateful for it. Do what you can to stay present and remind yourself that everything that’s happening inside your body is a miracle.