Oops, I know I’m not supposed to say that out loud, but let’s get real, there are some days when being pregnant is not exactly a self-image booster.
For all we’re "fed" about how blissfully beautiful we’re “supposed” to feel during our pregnancy, shouldn’t there also be a place to come clean when pregnancy leaves you feeling like a bloated balloon? I’ve been pregnant twice, so I totally understand how pregnancy can mess with your body image psyche. Add a boatload of hormones into your already ballooning state and stand back and prepare to experience a self-image meltdown or two.
So whether you're already pregnant, or thinking about becoming pregnant in the near future, it might help you to prepare by developing a mental GPS system to help navigate your body image successfully and safely all the way through to the delivery room.
Don’t Panic, It’s Only Temporary
It seems almost seems ridiculous to point out that pregnancy is only a temporary state and that alone should be reassuring, because doesn’t everyone already know this? Of course we do, except that when we're smack in the middle of a pregnancy or even nearing the end of one, sometimes it can feel like it will never end and that your previous body might never return. So it can be helpful to mentally regroup from time to time and find tools to help keep the big picture in mind, by measuring how far you’ve come, versus how far away your delivery due date might appear, etc.
With both of my pregnancies, I jokingly referred to each one of my daughters as “the alien” while they were still inside my belly. While some people might be offended by this somewhat bizarre reference, for me it helped satisfy a couple of things. The first of which is to try and maintain a sense of humour throughout pregnancy and not take your temporary physical shape too seriously because you're not fat, you're pregnant! The second thing it helped me with was to be able to describe some of my mixed bewilderment at the unknown excitement of “growing” a new human being inside my stomach. I have no doubt that every first-time mum probably feels a bit of this from time to time, so it helped me to use a bit of humour to acknowledge that part of my pregnancy.
Can't You Just Smell the Hormones in the Room?
While it should also seem obvious that hormones play a big role in the changes that take place during pregnancy, it can be difficult to remain objective to that fact when those hormones are eroding your sanity and causing you to feel like you’re riding an emotional roller coaster. Talking with supportive and positive girlfriends or family members, who have already gone through pregnancy, can go a long way towards helping to boost your outlook. Plus, growing and nurturing this supportive network of friends and family will become invaluable during pregnancy and especially after your new baby arrives too.
Don't Forget to Rinse and Repeat, Post Pregnancy Too!
Make it a daily habit to check in and remind yourself that pregnancy is not only a magical life experience, but it can sometimes be a personally challenging one too, particularly when it comes to your physical self-image. Make sure to set aside time for frequent “pep talks’ with supportive friends and remind yourself that hormones or a lack of sleep can often temporarily send your physical self-image into a nosedive. Keep reminding yourself that is only temporary state and try to focus on living in the moment by allowing yourself to temporarily let go of your personal vanity for a change. Reinforcing for yourself that tomorrow’s always a new day and very soon you’ll be blessed with an amazing new family member, can often help give a boost to your outlook about your temporary physical state.