Every woman responds differently to the emotional demands and physical changes experienced throughout pregnancy and a woman’s body image, or the way she feels about her body, plays a huge role in how she emotionally processes the experience. Because pregnancy is such a unique journey for us all, some women seem to have no trouble maintaining a positive body image while others have a harder time managing the physiological changes that are taking place. In fact, many women share that their body image declines over the course of their pregnancy and this is especially true for women who struggle with negative body image from the start. And we can’t have that, ladies! Scroll on for 5 ways you can boost your body image throughout pregnancy.
What in the world is happening to my body?!
During pregnancy, a woman’s body produces hormones that equip her body to carry and nourish her baby and eventually give birth. The hormones that trigger the stomach and breasts to grow larger to accommodate the growing baby and eventually breastfeed are the same hormones that may also cause changes in mood and exhaustion level. Metabolism increases, causing cravings and a yearning for larger and more frequent meals and snacks. So, not only are you feeling more moody and exhausted but, as your body expands, your complexion may change and stretch marks may appear. If you’ve been down this road, you know these physical changes can be a bit startling and it’s common to feel alone. The more educated women, their partners, and society as a whole become about the physiological and emotional aspects of pregnancy, the more we will collectively revere women’s bodies and all of the incredible things they accomplish during pregnancy and beyond!
What can I do to feel good about my body during pregnancy?
If you’re pregnant and struggling with body image, know that you’re not alone. Our advice is to be sure you’re paying as much attention to your mental and emotional well-being as you are your physical well-being. Here are a few ideas that might help:
Educate yourself. Your body is doing some seriously amazing things! Read up on the stages of pregnancy and all that is happening within you to support the growth of your baby. Pregnancy-focused apps are handy for day-to-day check-ins about your baby’s development and what’s going on with your body to support that. Understanding the science may help you process and make peace with your body’s transformation.
Be kind to yourself. Practicing self-care is central to emotional well-being. Schedule a prenatal massage (with the consent of your doctor), which may help relieve anxiety and help you feel better. Shop for clothes that make you feel beautiful in your changing body.
Move your body. Try prenatal yoga (with the consent of your doctor), which will support your mind-body connection. Walks and other gentle exercise will release endorphins, those super important mood-boosting hormones.
Connect with others. Pregnancy can feel isolating, and loneliness may exacerbate any negative emotions you’re experiencing. Make sure you’re regularly connecting with family and friends. Talk to your partner about your pregnancy and your feelings, and surround yourself with people who uplift and empower you. Your support system is crucial both while you’re pregnant and after your baby is born – foster it as much as you can!
Seek mental health support. Don’t wait until you’re feeling overwhelmed to seek emotional support from a professional. If you’re worried about the way you may be feeling, reach out to your physician or a mental health professional to get the help you need.
Visit our Bene by Nina RESOURCES page for a list of mental health organizations.