Take all the photos.
Looking back at my first pregnancy with Benji I wish I had taken more photos and videos. I was so overwhelmed by my changing body, and I often felt lost as the scale continued to climb. Weight gain during pregnancy is normal and needed, but coming off a year of strict dieting and intense exercise, the weight gain brought on intense anxiety. I remember turning my head when I hopped on the scale at the doctor and investing in a coach to help me manage my pregnancy macros. I tracked every bit of food I ate because that was the lifestyle I had become accustomed to. But eventually I got tired of tracking rice cakes and almond butter 🙂
Pregnancy Body Image
Pregnancy and body image are closely intertwined. And for someone with a history of disordered eating or an eating disorder, adjusting to the physical changes during and after pregnancy can be overwhelming. Although I was never diagnosed with an eating disorder, I do have obsessive tendencies, which became a bit more apparent during bikini prep.
During my first pregnancy I struggled to see my body in its entirety – stretch marks, large breasts, round belly and expanded hips, buy larger clothing, and accept that I had to pull back and adjust my training. Postpartum I struggled with the realities of recovery, mainly because it’s NOT TALKED ABOUT. I struggled to stand, use the restroom, and adjust to mom life. Life with a newborn was hard. I was tired, sore, and felt weak.
The above ad from Frida Mom shows the realties of early postpartum.
Many of us feel pressure postpartum to “bounce back” and “lose the baby weight.” But, dieting and intense exercise should be low on the priority list, especially if it’s in the form of punishing our bodies or trying to “erase” the last ten months creating life.
Navigating Pregnancy and Postpartum Body Image
If you are pregnant I encourage you to take all the photos. Treasure your body, this special time, and all of the amazing things your body is doing to create life. I’ve also included a few tips for some body image love and acceptance below. I am working through these a lot during my second pregnancy now.
- Focus on Body Acceptance and Appreciation: Shifting away from focusing on my body’s appearance to the amazing things my body is doing to grow and nourish my baby. Maybe it’s tough to get the place of “I LOVE my body,” but can you get to a place of appreciation? Saying things like, “I appreciate my body for allowing me to grow and nourish this baby,” and “I know my body needs to change to accommodate for and nourish my baby.” Postpartum things like, “My body just went through a lot to grow and deliver a baby and needs time to recover and rest.”
- Clean out your closet: Buy maternity / postpartum wear even before you need the size. Put away clothes that are too snug or uncomfortable. Focus on clothes that fit your body right where it is. A good fitting pair of pants feels heavenly. Here are some of my favorite maternity activewear pieces and sports bras.
- Focus on your values: Send your energy to what matters to you most (e.g. family, happiness, baby) vs. spending energy trying to change your body. Make decisions/take actions that bring you closer to these things that bring your joy. Ask yourself what is most important? It may be helpful to write them down and reference the list now and then too.
- Ask for support: Find your village and don’t be afraid to ask for help or support. Friends, family members, other moms, etc. The early days postpartum are tough and it’s important to have people around that can listen, bring over some food, watch baby so you can sleep or shower, and more.
I have mini pep talks with myself a lot around body image, expectations, and navigating the ups and downs of motherhood. Remember that you are not alone, and that your body is strong AF, capable, and is creating / created something pretty amazing: a baby <3
Feel good mama,