Having a baby changes everything. Your priorities change. Your social group changes. Your life, in general, will never be the same. That’s not a surprise.
What may be a surprise, though, is how quickly those changes come. In fact, your life is transformed by motherhood long before you welcome the little one into the world. The first and most significant of these transformations, in fact, happen in your body.
For some, pregnancy is the most magical and the most wondrous time of your life. However, it can also be the scariest and the most disconcerting. In this miraculous process of creating a whole new human being, the body you have inhabited your entire life may well begin to feel like an uncertain stranger, both alluring and terrifying.
While the end result of these transformations is joy in the life you are creating, it’s likely that there will be many moments in your pregnancy that feel somewhat less-than-blissful. You might dread stepping on the scale or trying to find an outfit that fits.
You might fear that every bite you put in your mouth will somehow be a token of your moral virtue, of how much you care for your baby and the body in which it currently resides. You might find yourself incessantly comparing your body against a barrage of celebrity baby bump photos and post-pregnancy reveals.
The reality is that pregnancy is truly a time of metamorphosis, a transition from one phase of life to another. It takes time, patience, and self-compassion to acclimate to the change. No matter how transformed in mind, spirit, and body you may feel, however, there are ways to enjoy a body-positive pregnancy. We’ll show you how.
One of the most challenging aspects of pregnancy is that suddenly everyone has advice on how you should treat your body, and especially on what you should eat, all “for the good of the baby.” Odds are you’ve felt eyes resting on you, monitoring what you do, silently approving or condemning your actions.
To be sure, some of this can be a part of your own prenatal anxiety. Another part, however, is the very real fact that a pregnant woman’s body is often seen as public property, subject to surveillance to ensure the woman does her utmost to bring a healthy child into the human family.
No matter how well-intentioned this may be, it can also be terribly harmful to expectant moms and their babies. For women who have experienced eating disorders, for example, such an intense focus on diet can be profoundly triggering.
This is why it’s imperative that you shut your eyes and ears to all the pregnancy diet advice that surrounds you. Instead, listen to your body and your physician. Remember, above all, that you are the ultimate expert on what your body, and your baby, need.
When you’re pregnant, the bathroom scale can be both your best friend and your worst enemy. Those steadily rising numbers can reassure you that you’re nourishing your own body and that of your child.
On the other hand, seeing those numbers rise “too much” or “too fast” can instigate not only anxiety but also some unhealthy, and even dangerous, responses. You may, for instance, be tempted to restrict your calories just when extra calories are what your body, and baby, need most. Similarly, you may find yourself exercising to excess, just to keep those very normal, very healthy, pregnancy pounds at bay.
So, ditch the scale and focus on nurturing and nourishing your body, mind, and spirit. Turn every bodily change and every pregnancy milestone into a celebration, an emblem of the amazing gift your incredible body is preparing for you.
Let’s face it: We women are dreadfully hard on ourselves and each other, even in the best of times. If you’ve spent most of your life comparing yourself to others, and especially to the (highly doctored) celebrity images you see in popular and social media, now’s the perfect time to stop.
Remember that there is far more than meets the eye to all those breathtaking images of heavily pregnant women who remain somehow miraculously toned and svelte save for the well-contained baby bump, not to mention the flood of post-pregnancy pictorials. From lighting and makeup to state-of-the-art photo editing, those images are fiction. They’re not what pregnant bodies actually look like. And why would you let a media fantasy rob you of the joy of this time, of the wonder of your life-creating body?
When you’re in the advanced stages of pregnancy, there are almost inevitably going to be some bodily changes that you didn’t expect.
For instance, many pregnant women develop varicose veins due to the increased blood volume in pregnant women’s bodies. Varicose veins will generally fade or disappear after you give birth, but if they’re painful or upsetting, there are some things you can do that may help prevent or minimize them. Keeping your legs elevated and increasing your fiber while reducing your salt intake are healthy ways to address varicose veins while you’re expecting.
Growing a baby is hard work. Your body’s under some pretty substantial stress, and your mind is probably just as burdened by the awesome thing that is happening in your life. That means there’s no more perfect time than now to practice extreme self-care. Let yourself luxuriate in a weekly mani-pedi, a nightly warm bath, a guilty pleasure rom-com, or a favorite gooey dessert.
And if you’re worried about the health impacts of your sweet tooth, then why not try a healthy but no less delectable dessert, such as dark chocolate truffles made with almond butter and Greek yogurt?
Pregnancy is the most magical time in a woman’s life, and body image issues should never be permitted to rob you of this rare joy. The good news is that it is possible to enjoy a body-positive pregnancy, one that truly reflects the miraculousness of the moment.
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