There are so many blogs and articles out there about pregnancy and what to expect throughout pregnancy. But with all of the articles and books I’ve read about pregnancy, I’m surprised I haven’t read more about hating having a belly.
I’ve been a thin person for 28 years and seemingly overnight I grew a giant belly. My clothes didn’t fit me anymore, and even if they did I didn’t know how to dress my rapidly changing body. I didn’t recognize who I saw in the mirror, and I felt so uncomfortable in my own skin. I’d ask my husband multiple times in the morning as I was getting ready if I looked pregnant or just fat. I also didn’t want to take photos of my progressing bump. My sister-in-law would request them sometimes and those are pretty much the only photos I have during my second trimester (once my bump started showing).
It wasn’t until I had a conversation about it with Kristin that I realized how common it was (and that it probably won’t go away after I have the baby either). I still had months to go, and I didn’t want to feel miserable the whole time, so it was time I changed the way I thought about myself and my body ASAP. In one of the mommy emails I’m subscribed to there was a poem by Rupi Kaur that really transformed my mindset and the way I thought about my body. The line that stood out the most to me was when her father “Said the closest thing to god on this earth/ is a woman’s body it’s where life comes from”. I started reminding myself whenever I had a negative thought creep in that my body was creating life. I chose to get excited about what the changes in my body meant instead of what they looked like.
I also reminded myself constantly that when I saw other pregnant women I didn’t think they were huge, I liked their little pregnant bumps. Some days when I ran errands complete strangers would comment about how cute my bump was and instead of cringing I started saying “Thank you,” and making an effort to really appreciate the compliment. When I got ready in the morning I tried to be much more objective about the person in the mirror and seeing what I really looked like in the present without the emotion I felt in the past. Some days I still struggled, but little by little it started working. I even liked the way I looked, baby bump and all, sometimes.
I stopped weighing myself and decided to let my midwives tell me if I needed to be concerned about how much weight I gained instead of fretting as the number climbed higher than I’d ever seen before. I focused on eating real foods full of vitamins and nutrients instead of giving into my childhood cravings. I also started exercising again. I’d given it up pretty much completely during the morning sickness phase of my first trimester, but once I made an effort to start moving my body more my attitude significantly improved (and my sciatica too).
I know that this is going to be an issue I will continue to face for many for many months to come, but armed with prayer and the above tactics, I feel confident that I will make it through with more good days than bad ones. Did you struggle with body image issues when you were pregnant or after you gave birth? How did you deal with them? If you have any questions, or what to know more, don’t forget you can always Ask a Bestie!