If I have to believe the media, we have to enjoy our pregnant body. Sometimes it just isn’t that simple. What if you can’t look at your pregnant body in the mirror? In this article I am handing you tips on how to be the boss of your feelings when you can’t enjoy your pregnant body.
During pregnancy a lot about the body, apart from the life growing life in you, changes for most women. Breasts and the belly grows; one belly slightly faster than the other. All wonderful attributes that, to a greater or lesser extent, reveal that you are pregnant. No matter how big or small a baby bump is: it is a sign of new life that you are creating. Something you can enjoy and be proud of.
However, not every woman is pleased with the changes her body undergoes during this period. Many women deal with fluid retention, an extra layer of fat that is deposited in places they feel uncomfortable about and stretch marks. They have the feeling their body isn’t theirs and feel uncomfortable seeing their naked body in the mirror. As a result they do not feel comfortable in their skin, which may impact their mood. Subsequently, this may result grabbing a bit too often for the cookie jar, more weight gain and maintained negative feelings about the changing pregnant body.
What if you don’t feel happy?
It isn’t strange at all that these feelings are existant and they are therefore nothing to be ashamed of. But how do you deal with the mixed feelings of being happy about your pregnancy and a body that you’re not at all happy with?
Accept these feelings
The first tip I want to give is to admit to and accept those feelings. As I said, it’s not abnormal that these feelings are existant. There are even specialized therapists who focus on pregnant women who have these feelings; says enough. So don’t feel guilty or bad about these feelings. When you’d do so, you acually strengthen these feelings and they will remain present. They will not, or will be difficult to fade into the background.
Talk about your feelings
As I said: having mixed feelings about your pregnant body isn’t weird. Woman are just not used to, or don’t feel comfortable being open about it. If you would talk openly about it, you’ll find that there are many more pregnant women who recognize your feelings.
If you find it hard or embarrassing to express these feelings to co-preggers, talk about your feelings with your partner. As such you can divide the ‘burden’, whichng you some peace. Your partner can furthermore help you reflect on your thoughts. Self-checking often happens with a magnifying glass on your weaknesses. Your partner can help placing your negative thoughts in perspective (“fluid retention is temporary,” “you still wear the same size”) and help you get rid of insecurities.
Decrease focus on your body
Try to be less focused on your body. Do you currently look at yourself in the mirror a few times a day, with negative feelings? Stop doing that; only look at yourself in the mirror in the morning and evening to brush your teeth and put on and take off your make-up. Do you stand on the scale often and do you feel bad about it? Use the scale only once a week, preferably once a month (or do you dare not to use the scale anymore at all?).
Stop comparing. Every pregnant woman looks different. One has a big bump, the other has a small bump. The size of the bump says very little about the health and growth of the child; your midwife will agree that even a small bump can produce a 9-pound baby. It therefore makes no sense to compare bump sizes.
The same is true for the rest of the body; one retains lits of fluid or builds lots of extra fat, others retain or build less. Realize that this is often only temporary, quite logically in most cases caused by pregnancy hormones, and that in most cases the retention and extra layer of fat decrease or disappear quickly after childbirth in most cases. A good reason to try to be relaxed about it.
Many women – pregnant or not pregnant – ‘eat away’ negative feelings. If this sounds familiar to you and want to stop emotional eating, first learn to accept your feelings and talk about them. The next step is to try to not to reach for food when you feel lousy.
What can help here is to seek distraction. For example, go for a walk around the block, call a friend or do some household chores. The more you trade this for food when you feel lousy, the more the tendency to overeat fades into. That way you also avoid unnecessary weight gain due to over-eating during pregnancy.
Take a beautiful picture
Take beautiful pictures of yourself in which you can see how beautiful you actually look and look at them regularly. You can can obviously have your pictures taken by a professional, but you can also make them yourself. This also enables you to see your baby bump progression.
A badly taken picture it is less easy to see your positive features and they bring out the points that you probably like less. So take a moment to take a good picture of yourself with your beautiful bump. Here’s how this:
– have someone else take it
Let your husband / wife / boyfriend / girlfriend take the picture of you. This way you’ll have the freedom to move around a bit and see how your bump and body look best in the picture.
Most people don’t seem to like posed shots, but I personally don’t see why it’s not okay to pose a bit on a private picture. If you’re asking me: why not pose a it for a nice pregnancy photo aswell? Turned away a bit from the camera, standing straight with one hand on your hip shows the curve in your back and the curve of your bump. Stand up straight, shoulders back, and voila; there you have a beautiful pose. Perhaps you find these pictures helpful for your own pose:
Prefer something more natural? Put the hand closest to the camera in your pocket and do not look into the camera, but just beside the camera.
– put on a bit of lipstick and take care of your hair
A fresh tint of lipstick, a bit of mascara and blusher and groomed hair ensure instant beauty on a picture. A bit of grooming can help you feel more confident and look more relaxed on a picture.
– use good light
Good light is another must, as it does a lot for your picture. Just think of dark circles under your eyes by the shorter nights you currently probably make that will disappear by good lighting . Good lighting is bright daylight, which ideally comes directly from the front. Whoever takes the picture of you thus has this light in his or her back, coming from behind.
For a finishing touch, you can use a filter on your picture. Opt to use the mobile phone app VSCO or Instagram. Do not exaggerate though; I personally think it is best to only make the picture a bit brighter.
Prevent stretch marks
Stretch marks are tiger stripes that you as mom (to-be) earned by bringing forth life. Good enough, but many women rather don’t have them. Unfortunately you can’t always influence on whether or not to get stretch marks. To a large extent this is genetically determined. Lubrication (eg with this oil) and drinking plenty of water may help limiting or preventing stretch marks.
What I think about my own pregnant body?
At first I want to say ‘very good’. I have a sweet little bump that I am proud of and enjoy; our littleone seems to be a soccer player in the making and I feel thim hroughout the day.
I do have moments that I think could be omitted. For example, partly because the pelvic instability, I am currently not able to workout as I did before. Add to that the hormones that cause that I will have reserves during lactation, resulting in an extra layer of fat. Luckily this doesn’t affect me mentally. This has partly to do with the fact that I don’t weigh myself out of precaution; what doesn’t know, doesn’t hurt, and there is no reason for negative attention for my body.
I realize that increased fat and water retention are temporary, but I do have to get used to it. This recently became clear when someone took a not too pretty picture of me on the hottest day in times, when I obviously retained water. In my view, seen on the picture, I clearly looked much fuller than that I normally am and I really wasn’t too happy with that. I simply asked that person to not take my picture that day, as it didn’t feel comfortable at all.
Q: what do / did you think of your changing pregnant body? Do you have (did you have) any trouble with that? How do / did you handle this?