Mamas-to-be, we get it. Pregnancy changes things—from a rapidly expanding stomach to an all-round puffier physique and boobs that balloon three cup sizes by the second trimester; there’s way more to a pregnancy body than just a baby bump. While it’s supposed to be a joyful time, it can still negatively affect the way you feel about your body—and there should be zero shame in admitting that. While weight gain is inevitable, it’s important to try and rationalise your feelings and see them for what they are.
Here’s how to make sure you’re staying body positive during such a transformative and emotional time.
Know what to expect
While no pregnancy is textbook and everything—including the amount of weight put on by expecting mothers—can fluctuate dramatically, knowing the rough ballpark of what to expect in terms of weight gain can help you to account for your body changes.
There are so many factors that influence weight gain during pregnancy; including your pre-pregnancy weight, whether you’re carrying multiples and whether your morning sickness includes frequent vomiting over an extended period of time. It’s also important to remember that you’re gaining weight not just from the baby growing; but also from all of the extra blood, tissue and fluid that your body needs in order to grow the little one.
Know that everybody is different
Now personally, at 5ft 2 and 25 weeks pregnant, I’m definitely starting to resemble a bowling ball. Not only has my belly grown, but my boobs, hips and legs have also significantly increased in size since I fell pregnant. While I’m sure there are a lot of pregnant ladies who can relate to me—there are also many women who find that they only put on weight on their belly, with everywhere else remaining the same. The rate at which women gain weight is also completely different—by the end of the first trimester I already couldn’t do up any of my jeans, but I feel as though it’s slowed up slightly during the second trimester; whereas some women will gain all of their weight in the second and third trimesters.
Remember that everybody is working with entirely individual genetics and environmental factors, so appreciating that your body is doing its best in its current situation is crucial for maintaining a body positive attitude.
Know that marketing is just marketing
The body positive movement has grown exponentially in the last couple of years, and there has been a groundswell of calling brands out for the lack of body diversity in their marketing campaigns. The same applies to maternity brands—they’re not a true and honest representation of pregnant women as a whole. Many are standard models with a pregnancy bump strapped to them—which is why their bodies have undergone none of the changes that yours might have.
Know it’s not all in your head
Mama’s, the emotional roller coaster is absolutely real. As FitPregnancy states, “there’s the undeniable fact that pregnancy changes everything—literally. Changes occur not only in the body but also in the brain… There’s a proliferation of new receptors, such as those for estrogen, oxytocin and prolactin, which prepare the woman and her body for childbirth, breastfeeding and nurturing. In addition, neuron growth essentially ‘rewires’ the brain for motherhood. These dramatic chemical shifts can take you on an emotional roller coaster.”
Knowing that there’s a science-backed reason for why you’re feeling the way you are can help you to deal with the changes your body is going through. Girl, you’re growing a human being from scratch. You’re doing amazing.