Body Image and Pregnancy
"Pregnancy" is a continuum with 2 ends.... One end being the happy and joyous part of welcoming a newborn into the family; the other end being the emotional and physical changes the woman goes through. While the former gets ample attention, the latter is less talked-about and almost ignored. Here's an attempt to take a sneak-peak into the less explored aspect of pregnancy- Body Image.
When was the last time you looked at the mirror and liked what you saw there? Its often difficult to cope with the bodily changes that take place during pregnancy- be it changes in your skin, your gait, appearance, or even weight gain and increasing body size. Constant hormonal fluctuations will cause your uterus to expand, your breasts to grow, your feet to enlarge and your skin to break-out. You may suffer fatigue, incredible food cravings; let's not even mention varicose veins and mood swings!
Thoughts and Feelings:
All the changes happening in you could make you feel enormous; a heffalump in a woman's body, forcing your body image during pregnancy hit an all-time low! With every growing centimeter you might start getting thoughts like- "Will my stomach be normal again?", "Will I ever fit into my normal clothes again?", "How am I going to lose all the weight I gained?", "Will these dark patches & stretch marks ever vanish from my skin?" and so on.. These might make you FEEL overwhelmed, frustrated, irritated, embarrassed to wear certain clothes; it may even force your sexual life take a back seat- to an extent that resuming sexual intimacy with your partner proves to be challenging.
We often assume that a healthy body image is the automatic result of being thin, while the crux of a desire to look good is the happiness and contentment that comes along. Hence the first step towards coping is to start living for yourself and accepting yourself irrespective of how you look. There are a few things that can be done to start building your body image and self esteem.
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.
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 you 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.
Also, here's a great list of activities to improve your self esteem. They are practical and powerful. Why not give them a try. A healthy self-esteem is one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself and others around you too.
Remember your Sacredness:
How we feel in front of other people has a lot to do with how we feel about our body size and shape. How could it not in this body-obsessed society we live in? But, One of the greatest activities to improve your self esteem is to remember that you're a Sacred Being and that has nothing to do with the size of your hips or thighs but a lot to do with the size of your spirit and heart.
A mental make-over can help you 'act as if':
How your self-esteem turns out is also mainly an internal job - it's about undergoing a mental makeover. Determine your worth based on your inner and not your outer attributes. Use the 'Act as if' principle. This entails asking yourself, "How would I act if I could always remember that I'm a unique and Sacred being exactly as I am" * How would I walk? How would my posture look to anyone watching? * How would I talk? What kinds of conversations would I be having and what tone would people hear in my voice? * How would I hold my head? * What would people see when they looked in my eyes? * How would I dress? Etc.... and then rearrange your body to reflect this and 'Act as if it's true.' And start dressing 'as if' you already are that amazing person.
Every time you walk past a mirror, shop window or other reflective surface, greet yourself by saying: "Hi sweetie." It's short, sweet; simple and it'll make you feel much better.
Witnessing your thoughts separates them from you and allows you to see what strengthens and weakens them more clearly. And if you can tack a bit of humor - and laugh at them, wow, that's a great step forward in adopting activities to improve your , and in-turn improving your body-image. Seek assistance whenever you require; that makes you more resilient. Enjoy this glorious phase of your life. Have a Happy Pregnancy!