Pregnancy body image is hard.
There’s the inside noise: Other mamas close to my due date are carrying little “basketballs”; my entire torso has been swollen with child since since 14 weeks. Legs. Legs have doubled in size; sweatpants four sizes up from my “normal” no longer fit. My face is round, rounder than it’s ever been. I used to run 20 miles a week to have distinguishable cheekbones... will I get back to that? Trying to be a pregnant woman where “you can’t tell she’s pregnant from behind.” I’ve looked at myself from behind in the mirror every week to see if I’m keeping up with that standard. I’m not. Hair that’s thinner than ever—wasn’t it supposed to be the thickest of my life? Cellulite, swollen feet, and puffy hands with fingers that no longer fit my wedding ring. And regardless of others’ kind compliments and disagreement with the above facts, I know full well that I have actually undergone these changes as indicated by the way things fit and how I look in the mirror.
And then, there is the outside noise: Don’t gain more than 35 lbs; the rest is yours to keep after birth. Eat for two; it’s your time to enjoy and not worry about how many calories you consume. Show your body—pregnancy is an incredible thing and it needs to be normalized. Cover up—your body is going through an intimate process that should be hidden and protected. Don’t compare yourself to others; pregnancy looks different for everyone. Here are 14.6M posts showing #pregnant women whose bodies have hardly changed, save for their sweet baby bumps. On that note, post photos of your progress; your friends and family want to share in this experience with you. Don’t post photos; it‘s not about getting likes, it’s about growing a healthy baby. You’ll get your body back eventually. Your body will never be the same after you have children. More. More. More.
STOP. Breathe. Put the phone down. Smile at the sage advice of well-intentioned others and then recognize you have a choice to internalize it all or not.
I must remember that my body is the only body that can grow THIS baby girl. Pregnancy, though our society tries to make it so, is NOT image-based. No instagram photo, looks-centered comment or body-focused guideline will ever be able to describe the feeling I get when this baby girl moves. When I hear her heartbeat on the Doppler or imagine how it will feel to snuggle her close and breathe in the sweet smell of such a beautiful blessing. Size 2 pants don’t determine my worth as mother, nor will a 6-pack immediately following labor enable me to provide her the wisdom on how to be a kind, giving, self-aware human.
In no way do I want to alienate the pregnant women whose bodies remain fit, who DO only have that little baby bump. Rather, what I want to do is move the conversation away from how we look during pregnancy and instead focus on how it feels and what we can do to provide the best experience for our bodies and minds, and ultimately, our babies. Because the fact that women have a treasured space for our children to become who they are, the fact that we spend nine months preparing a sweet soul for life on the outside, the fact that we can even create another human inside our own bodies, now THAT, is an amazing [body] image. And moving forward, it’s one I intend to meditate on mentally, not physically.
Tips? Woes? Need some support? Share it all with me, friends! 💗
One of my first tips? Book a photography session with Miranda Parker. This incredibly talented woman has a gift for making the love and beauty that lies inside come alive, so that you may see it on the surface, too! Her website is here, and I promise it will be one of the best things you've ever done.