Pregnancy is an exciting and wonderful time of change. You might wake up every morning and notice something new and fascinating about your body.
Everyone knows it’s perfectly healthy to gain weight and experience some physical shifts while pregnant. You might deal with swollen feet and hands, enlarged breasts, and other changes you aren’t used to. While it’s all normal, some people can feel self-conscious about their changing bodies.
Even after your child is born, you might struggle with your self-confidence if your body doesn’t “bounce back” right away.
So, what can you do to embrace body positivity during and after pregnancy? How can you love your body no matter what? Having a body-positive mindset is a great way to manage your mental health during this time of change, so let’s cover some tips you can use to love the powerful and amazing body you’re in while you’re carrying a child and immediately after.
Know the Lesser-Known Changes
While weight gain and swelling are common, there are some lesser-known bodily changes that typically occur during pregnancy. Sometimes, knowing what to expect can help you prepare mentally and emotionally. Some of the most common changes include
- Skin tags
- Stretch marks
- Changes in skin color
Pregnancy is also a risk factor for spider veins, which can be uncomfortable and cause small red, blue, or purple veins to appear on the surface of your skin.
Thankfully, many of these issues can be dealt with naturally. Keeping yourself clean and using a face wash to take care of acne, natural remedies for skin tags, and cocoa butter for stretch marks can help to keep them at bay. You can also talk to your doctor about potential treatments for spider veins.
However, it’s important not to become hyper-focused on “fixing” these issues. They are signs that you’re growing a child and your body is changing and adapting. While taking care of yourself and your well-being inside and out is essential, don’t let your focus on preventing blemishes or “flaws” consume your days.
Embrace Your Growth
Most women gain between 25-35 pounds during pregnancy. Watching your “baby bump” form can be exciting, but some days it’s not easy to look in the mirror and see such a drastic change in the way your body looks.
Some women struggle with the weight they gain more than others. Maybe you had issues with your weight before becoming pregnant, or maybe you’ve always been a little self-conscious about staying fit and thin. While gaining the normal amount of weight during pregnancy is important for you and the health of your baby, there are things you can do to change your perspective if you’re struggling with it.
First, get rid of your scale.
Now isn’t the time to weigh yourself every day. Visiting your doctor for regular prenatal checkups will let you know your weight and how it’s gradually progressing. If you check your home scale every day and start fretting over a pound or two, it’s easy to become obsessive.
Additionally, consider buying maternity clothes early on in your pregnancy. The last thing you want is to try to put on your favorite pair of jeans and struggle to zip them up. Buying things a size up will ensure you’re comfortable, and you’re less likely to think about your weight while wearing them.
Again, instead of focusing on the number on a scale or how you look in a mirror, try shifting your perspective to being healthy. Adopt a light exercise regimen (after talking to your doctor) and prioritize healthy eating. When you feel good about what you’re putting in your body and how you’re staying active, you’re more likely to see your body as strong and powerful rather than overweight.
Bouncing Back After Baby
Some women feel a lot of pressure to get back to their pre-pregnancy bodies quickly after having a baby. However, you have to accept that things won’t be back to normal right away. You might suffer from things like:
- Sore nipples
- Vaginal tears
You might also be weak for a while, especially if you had a complicated pregnancy. Even if things were completely normal, you’re undoubtedly running on less sleep with a newborn at home. Don’t push yourself to bounce back immediately. Your body needs time to heal, and you need time to appreciate and embrace motherhood. Trying to force yourself to get back to your pre-pregnancy size and shape will add extra stress that can impact your mental health.
There are ways to get your body back, but it takes time and requires a dedication to health, rather than strictly worrying about looks. Focus on losing weight slowly through a healthy diet and exercise, and start reintroducing aspects of your life that were normal before you became pregnant. Spend time with friends and family for support. Get back into your sex life. Things that make you feel like “yourself” again can do wonders for your mental health, and allow you to embrace your body at every stage.
While the changes you go through during pregnancy can put you on an emotional rollercoaster, the best thing you can do is remember how remarkable you are. You are growing a human life inside you and providing it with everything it needs to survive. Yes, there are changes along the way. However, recognizing your strength and everything your body is doing throughout those changes can shift your perspective and make it easier to love your body during and after pregnancy.
About the Author
Charlie Fletcher is a freelance writer from the lovely “city of trees”- Boise, Idaho. Her love of writing pairs with her passion for social activism and the search for the truth. You can find more of her writing on her Contently.