According to Ann Douglas, author of The Unofficial Guide to Having a Baby, “A woman who feels good about herself will celebrate the changes that her body experiences during pregnancy, look forward to the challenge of giving birth, and willingly accept the physical and emotional changes of the postpartum period.” Her body image is important to her.
Loving Your Body Image Even Before You Are Pregnant:
Loving your body image before pregnancy can help you get through the physical and emotional changes during pregnancy. Having a positive body image of yourself is not about what you look like, but how you feel about yourself. This is crucial in pregnancy since there will be body changes that you cannot control. It is also helpful to understand why your body is going through these changes.
Loving Your Body Image When You Are Pregnant:
Knowing that your body’s changes are essential to your developing baby is reason enough to embrace these changes and SMILE!
Understanding what your body is doing for your baby:
As soon as your egg is fertilized and implanted in your uterus, your body begins to go through changes. These changes are a result of your baby’s growth and development. Your baby has a fetal life-support system that consists of the placenta, umbilical cord, and amniotic sac. The placenta produces hormones that are necessary to support a healthy pregnancy and baby. These hormones help prepare your breasts for lactation and are responsible for many changes in your body.
You will have an increase in blood circulation that is needed to supply the placenta. This increase in blood is responsible for that wonderful “pregnancy glow” that you may have. Your metabolism will increase, so you may have food cravings and the desire to eat more. Your body is requiring more nutrients to feed both you and your baby. Your uterus will enlarge and the amniotic sac (your baby’s home) will be filled with amniotic fluid. The amniotic fluid is there to protect your baby from any bumps or falls.
Here are a few things you can do to love your body image during pregnancy:
Exercise during pregnancy can help you feel fit, strong, and sexy. According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, pregnant women are encouraged to exercise at least 30 minutes a day throughout pregnancy, unless your health care provider instructs differently. Before starting any exercise program ALWAYS check with your health care provider. For more information on exercise throughout pregnancy, check out the Nutrition & Exercise section.
Treat yourself to a body massage or a makeover. Go shopping! What better excuse to go shopping. There are cute and even sophisticated maternity clothes to buy. This is your time to shine. Make the most of these wonderful 9 months.
Have a good support network:
It is a good idea to surround yourself with positive people. During your pregnancy you can be more vulnerable to negative self-talk and it can affect you in a negative way. If you are feeling that you are not getting the support you need, share that with those around you.
Loving Your Body After Pregnancy:
After your baby is born your body has to adjust and return to a non-pregnant body. Your uterus will need time to shrink, so don’t expect a flat belly after your delivery. Remember, your body has been through a lot in giving birth and needs time to recuperate. Give yourself some time to rest and catch up on some sleep. It’s ok to ask your family and friends for help with the baby so you can catch some zzzz’s.
Exercise can also help you get your pre-pregnancy body back. Join a gym that offers childcare or load up your stroller and walk through the neighborhood. This will also help get you out of the house so you can feel refreshed.
Compiled using information from the following sources:
The Unofficial Guide to Having a Baby Second Ed. Douglas, Ann, et al, Ch. 19.
Planning Your Pregnancy and Birth Third Ed. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Ch. 12.