I’ve been thinking a bit about body image and all the changes we go through body wise during different phases in life. Especially during pregnancy. I am thankful to have had one easy pregnancy behind me and this one hasn’t been too tough to handle either. At least so far (knock on wood).
I love feeling my little one kick and pregnancy is something I cherish and enjoy most of the time. It is the time in my life I’m most in touch with my body and well being, and all I have to do to feel good is listen within myself. I am more kind to myself and prioritize my limits, health and well being more than usually. My appreciation has grown for my own body ever since I became pregnant with Greta. I learned to trust my own instincts and feelings and realized how incredibly smart and genius my body is all on it’s own. I also feel much more relaxed about how my body looks and I’m happy to have reached a stage in my life where I focus on my health, strength and energy level over how I look in the mirror. I actually like my body just as it is even though I know I have imperfections and areas I’m less pleased about. Just like everybody else.
Although it is taboo to talk about the body changes pregnancy and giving birth may lead to, I’m still going to lightly touch on the subject and discuss my own experiences since some of you already brought it up. I think it’s perfectly fine to worry about your body when going through such a big change in your life. Becoming a mother changes a woman in so many ways, and the body might feel most tangible to someone before everything else motherhood has to give becomes real. Maybe you feel like the body you’ve lived with all your life is part of you, and you’re simply scared of the unknown. How is your body going to change during this journey, and how are you going to feel about yourself and the eventual changes afterwards? Thinking and reflecting over these things is nothing to be ashamed of.
I can’t stand it when the attitude around this subject is so hush hush and ;you should be happy to be pregnant, received a healthy child etc. Just because you’re a mother, it doesn’t mean your own feelings and well being isn’t important anymore.
I never stressed about weight gain during my first pregnancy even though I gained quite a lot of weight. I felt good, exercised all through my pregnancy and ate as much as my body required (a lot!), but stuck to my normal diet which is very normal focusing on nutritious, clean and healthy foods. No restrictions, real food and everything in moderation. I trusted my body and knew I wasn’t taking advantage of the situation by eating gallons of ice cream on the couch each night. My only issue was feeling heavy at the end of my pregnancy, not being able to move the way I was used to. I simply didn’t feel like the best and most energetic version of myself, but trusted the heaviness and uncomfortable feeling to naturally decrease after birth.
I also never worried about stretch marks, hair loss, skin problems etcetera, even though I suffered from the last two. Not to even mention what nursing does to the body. After giving birth I honestly didn’t worry about getting into shape since I totally lost myself to my child. I was in love and nothing else could come between me and my daughter. I walked a lot. I walked for hours every day but only because I enjoyed it and wanted to spend as much time breathing fresh air with my new born. I was back to my normal weight shortly after giving birth, but I never did anything to achieve my pre baby weight and if I wouldn’t have lost it easily I would probably have been ok with that as well. I just so happen to not be able to be on any sort of weight loss plan. I’m simply too hungry for that.
Saying this, I really don’t think it should be so shameful talking about the body even though it shouldn’t be the main focus. Some pregnancies and deliveries can totally ruin the body and it is up to the woman herself to think whatever she wants about those changes. Some experience difficult and traumatizing deliveries and some even get medical difficulties and complications afterwards. We all experience things different, and it is every woman’s right to feel whatever she feels about her own body pre and post pregnancy. All feelings are allowed and ok and shouldn’t be something to feel ashamed of. If someone for example feels she want’s to loose her baby pounds it doesn’t mean she doesn’t appreciate her child.
I also want to emphasize to trust your own body and mind. Be honest, kind and true to yourself. Obviously binge eating unhealthy things is never healthy, especially not during pregnancy but it is also not healthy to stress about weight gain and calories too the extend. Stress is not good for any bodily functions, so trying to be relaxed about it and focus on being healthy might be the best way to go also when it comes to recovery.
If you get stretch marks or you’re left with a post baby body different than the one your’re used to, it might not be the end of the world. Maybe you stress about it now, but have a change of mind after you have your little baby in your arms. I know I’ve never appreciated my body as much as after becoming a mother. I created another human being that instantly took over my heart and world. What more could I ask for?
Pictures by J. Tuliniemi