Body image can be tough on a woman at the best of times. Pregnancy takes it to a whole new level.
Watching your rapidly changing reflection in the mirror can be pretty overwhelming. Add some extreme hormones to the mix and you’re unlikely to show up loving yourself every day.
Looking back over the past eight months of pregnancy, my body image has changed dramatically. Within the space of a single day, I can start ‘glowing’ (ish) and finish resembling a beached whale. Pleasing.
The first trimester was particularly hard. To the untrained eye, I didn't look pregnant, but early summer, I was already feeling a much bigger, bloated version of my former self and, unable to advertise why, I wasn’t feeling this new me.
As a PT there’s also a certain amount of pressure, to look like a PT. Part of my role as a transformation coach is to get people abs, and mine were long gone. Ultimately, life is not all about abs, something that despite my career choice, I learned a long time ago. However, I had to face the fact my body was going to change and the quicker I accepted this, the happier I was going to be.
Pregnancy weight gain (and loss) is no overnight transformation so getting comfortable with yourself for the next 18 months(+) is necessary.
I used to weigh myself daily, however during pregnancy the scale weight seemed so out of control I quickly stopped this. Despite the fact you’re fully aware this additional weight gain is not all fat (see previous post Weight Watchers), it can still manage to make you feel like crap, particularly when you’re living on the edge of a hormonal breakdown.
No one needs a daily reminder they’re getting bigger so nowadays I’m jumping on the scales once every few weeks, more out of curiosity than anything else, and only following a quick self-assessment of whether I can happily accept the inevitable increase. Sounds extreme but these things require consideration.
Fortunately, the 20-week scan provided some much-needed perspective. Watching your baby move around on the screen, finally resembling something of an actual human being, and that feeling of relief when you can hear that heart pumping helps you quickly forget the daily slog to get there. ‘It’s a boy’ I heard, and suddenly this thing you’ve had to deal with for the last five months is actually a little boy whose health is way more important than any stretch marks or cellulite concerns. It’s worth the exhaustion, tears, and body hang-ups (although you may need to remind yourself of this occasionally).
Thankfully, as the months have gone on and there’s now an unmistakable baby bump it does feel easier. This also nicely coincided with me finally coming to terms that I’m going to have an actual baby – it’s really happening. I now quite enjoy checking out my belly every day although there are always going to be times where you just feel like crap (I seem to remember a few of those in pre-preggo life too to be fair). So If you’re struggling to accept your new curves, here are a few tips that might help below:
Don’t weigh yourself every day – this is of little benefit and will just make you miserable.
Don’t compare – it’s natural to be curious about what other mums-to-be look like at your stage or pregnancy, but bear in mind you probably had a completely different body to them pre-pregnancy, you have a different lifestyle, different pregnancy, different baby, different genetics……you get the point.
Do your research – Knowledge is power, so the more you learn, the more in control you’ll feel about the amazing work your body is doing.
Train – training has been a huge positive for me as it provides a whole new level of appreciation for what my body can still achieve, despite its changing shape. Doing something that makes you feel strong will empower you, particularly when you can feel how much harder your body is having to work. Find something that makes you feel comfortable and most importantly happy and get involved.
Give yourself a break – allow yourself that cry, bath, craving, or nap. That pregnancy glow isn’t guaranteed so when it’s missing, cut yourself some slack.
Sort your wardrobe – trying on clothes that no longer fit will most likely lead to hibernation. Treat yourself to a few maternity bits and put everything that fits in one place. Avoid the other 90% of your wardrobe at all costs.
Focus on the end game –there were weeks when I felt so crap, the fact I’m actually growing a child barely crossed my mind. Thankfully this happens less often nowadays (I see why you have nine months to get your head around the idea) so take time to get excited about the baby and really appreciate your body for the crazy things it is doing for you.
Best of Luck!