pregnant woman feels positive about her body and lets young girl touch her pregnant belly

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Body positivity: Loving your body before, during and after pregnancy

  • A body positive image helps you feel good about yourself as you go through the normal hormonal changes of pregnancy.
  • It’s normal to gain weight during pregnancy. It’s healthy for you and your baby.
  • Pregnant women are encouraged to exercise at least 30 minutes a day.

Look around you, at TV, social media and advertising. Being  thin and toned seems to be our “ideal” for women in the US. It’s tough to live up to such unrealistic expectations especially for pregnant women and new moms.

The body positivity movement is challenging the stereotypical and impossible beauty standards for women. Body positivity encourages you to view your body as perfect as it is. This self-love and self-acceptance can help you feel more confident which is essential for a new mom.

Body positivity before pregnancy

If you do have some extra pounds you’d like to lose to feel better about yourself, try to get to a healthy weight before you get pregnant. A positive body image before pregnancy can help you through the normal hormonal changes as well as the normal emotional ups and downs during pregnancy and after childbirth.

Body positivity during pregnancy

You are your baby’s life support system. It’s normal and healthy to gain weight during pregnancy.  Hormonal changes in pregnancy will cause many physical changes in your body. For example, your  breasts will get larger as your body prepares for breast-feeding.  Acne and mood swings are also common and you  may get swollen legs, stretch marks and generally feel fatigued. Your metabolism will increase, and you may have food cravings as your body adjusts to the nutritional needs for both you and your baby.

The fact that your body is able to do all this is amazing. Accepting and embracing your body as it changes and appreciating what your body is doing for you and your baby is important for a positive body image. Here are some things to do that can help you be more positive about your body’s changes during your pregnancy.

Don’t focus on the scale

During your regular check ups, your doctor will tell you if there’s anything you need you need to watch and will work with you on your weight gain goals.

Weight gain during pregnancy depends on your body mass index (BMI) before pregnancy and how many babies you’re carrying. BMI is a measure of body fat calculated from your weight and height. If you feel like your weight gain is unusual talk to your doctor. He or she may refer you to a nutritionist who specializes in prenatal care and nutrition.

Tone your body and exercise during pregnancy

Pregnant women are encouraged to exercise at least 30 minutes a day. Check with your health care provider for guidance on exercise. Some exercises that you were used to doing before pregnancy may still be safe to do. The standard guidelines for adults is to work up to or maintain at least 150 minutes (2 1/2 hours) of moderate intensity aerobic activity each week.

Surround yourself with positive people

The changes in your body and appearance might result in unwanted negative comments from some people. Comments such as “you’re tiny” or “are there twins in there” can impact your emotional well-being. Emotional ups and downs during pregnancy are normal. But, if you can, stay away from overly negative people. Along with your medical care team, surround yourself with family members and friends who can provide emotional and physical support during and after your pregnancy.

First trimester: What's happening with your emotions 

Get help when needed

Both your mental and physical health are important to a healthy, happy pregnancy. If negative thoughts are weighing you down speak with someone in your support network, join a support group or talk to a therapist.

Indulge yourself

Make yourself a priority. Pamper yourself by continuing to do the special things you enjoy doing that make you feel good such as:

  • go to a spa
  • get a massage
  • go shopping
  • get together with friends
  • have a date night with your partner.

Post-partum body positivity

Taking care of a newborn, lack of sleep and even career changes can take a physical and emotional toll. Keep your expectations in check and focus on the health of you and your baby.

After childbirth your body will adjust gradually to your pre-pregnancy condition. It will take time for your uterus to shrink back in size, so don’t expect a flat belly just days after you deliver. Accept your body as it is and remember that it took nine months to accommodate your baby so it will take some time for your body to get back to its pre-pregnancy state. Try to focus on yourself. Sleep when you can and ask for help if you need it.

It is normal to experience symptoms of "baby blues" such as sadness, tearfulness, worry, disrupted sleep and mood swings. Up to 80 percent of new moms experience some of these symptoms which generally improve about 10-14 days  after your baby’s birth. Nearly 1 in 5 women  experience more severe postpartum depression. If you experience symptoms of depression that get worse, last longer than two weeks, have decreased ability to function, are or have thoughts of harming your self or your baby seek help for postpartum depression.

More on how to deal with your post-partum emotions

Postpartum Emotions | Postpartum Depression | Allina Health

Ann Douglas, author of The Unofficial Guide to Having a Baby, said 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 post-partum period.”

 

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