A rapidly changing body during pregnancy can be jarring for many women. Here’s how to let go of expectations, and allow yourself to be loved.
For many women, pregnancy can bring a new meaning to the concept of beauty. Seeing how our bodies are able to create new life is a miraculous transformation. However, for many women, observing these radical changes during pregnancy can be difficult to embrace, accept, or even understand.
Consider practicing these 3 main areas of self-care to support your confidence and an overall healthy body image during pregnancy:
1. Change Your Mindset
Many women may come into pregnancy with certain expectations of how the journey may unfold. Being faced with unmet expectations with pregnancy experiences can feel disheartening. Maybe you imagined yourself feeling much more confident or excited about your changing body, only to find yourself struggling with negative body image. In the age of social media, it can be easy to fall into the comparison trap of how other women might be experiencing their pregnancies.
Just remember that your journey is unique to yourself, and part of what makes this process beautiful are the ways that not only your body is changing, but the way your entire life is being transformed. If you are having a difficult time with the concept of “body positivity” during pregnancy, aim for something that might be more realistic, like body neutrality. Find and focus on the ways you can appreciate your whole self throughout your pregnancy, not just your body.
2. Nurture and Connect
Neglecting self-care can become a means for disconnecting with your changing body. Find practical ways to nurture yourself in ways that might allow you to reconnect with your body during pregnancy. You deserve to be kind to yourself and intentionally treat yourself well. Even if your feelings toward yourself are negative, you can begin to transform this mindset through simple acts of kindness.
This might include some of the following:
- Dress For Your Body Now: Make sure you are dressing yourself in clothes that fit the body you have now, and allow you to feel comfortable and beautiful. Investing in a few staple items that are versatile and that feel good on you can make all the difference in boosting your mood and body confidence. Take a few minutes each day to get yourself ready as a simple step of self-care.
- Nurture Your Whole Self: How are you caring for yourself throughout the day? Are you feeding your body foods you enjoy? Are you taking the necessary time for rest? Are you engaging in movement or exercise that feels good to you? Being intentional about how you nurture your whole self, physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually, can support your ability to be kinder to yourself.
- Skip the Scale: Weight gain during pregnancy can be triggering for many women. Even if you are feeling comfortable in your body, seeing numbers fluctuate on the scale can sometimes be upsetting or hard to cope with. Consider the alternative and skip the scale entirely! Talk to your healthcare provider about having blind weights during your checkups or skipping the weight discussions altogether.
3. Find Your Village
Having a positive support system around you can make a world of a difference when it comes to building a healthier body image. This is important not only during pregnancy, but afterward too. Surround yourself with others, be it your spouse, family members, friends, or professionals, who encourage you to make positive choices throughout your motherhood journey.
Remember, asking for help is not a sign of weakness, and growing a family really does take a village. If you are struggling with poor body image during pregnancy, consider reaching out for professional support by working with a therapist and/or nutritionist.
Remember, you don’t have to go through this pregnancy journey alone!
Navigating the many changes of pregnancy can feel overwhelming. If you too have found it difficult to connect with, embrace, or accept your changing body during pregnancy, know that you are not alone.
Recognize that some days may feel easier than others, in terms of how you are able to care for and nurture yourself. You may even feel frustrated or negative toward your body and the changes you are observing as your body grows your baby.
Continue to find ways to nurture your whole self. Connecting to others can support a healthier body image and positive mindset during this transformational season of life.
And most of all, learn to be patient with yourself, wherever you might be on your journey.
HEADER IMAGE: KELLY SIKKEMA
Crystal Karges, MS, RDN, IBCLC is a San Diego-based private practice dietitian helping others embrace their health for themselves and their loved ones. Focusing on maternal/child health and eating disorders, Crystal creates the nurturing, safe environment that is needed to help guide individuals towards a peaceful relationship with food and their bodies.