Body image during pregnancy is a juxtaposition of feeling beautiful and strong one second and then like a busted can of biscuits the next. Whether a woman is a size 2 or 22, I think body image is something that we all struggle with to some degree during pregnancy, and especially after (for some great encouragement, Hannah talked about showing yourself grace after having a baby here). Thanks to social media, magazines, and models, women can be made to feel like we are supposed to carry a soccer ball, not swell, have zero stretch marks, strut around in stilettos and then bounce back at Adriana Lima speed. You would think that pregnancy would be one of those times where women stopped the comparison game, but I would go so far as to say that it’s worse.
When we get on that scale at every appointment, we see the number climbing and have to remind ourselves that it’s totally normal and needed (to a degree) for a healthy pregnancy and baby. However, getting into that mindset isn’t always the easiest. I have found myself the heaviest I have been in my entire life and I have gained more this pregnancy than I ever did with both boys, yet I ate much healthier and knew so much more about health in general. I know that I have taken care of myself and this baby the best I could, but it’s still humbling to see that number climb higher and higher every time I go to my prenatal appointments (I don’t own a scale at home, so my appointments are the only time I see my weight).
I see pictures on Instagram of other pregnant women and find myself envious of the way they look, be it their body, their hair, their skin, etc. I find myself picking apart the way that I look, and that’s not fair. Comparison is the thief of joy and this is one of the most joyous times in my life as I get ready to welcome my third baby, my little girl, into the world. It’s so crazy that I allow myself to go from “this is what God created me for, I am so strong” to “I feel massive, I swear that cellulite was not there this morning” in almost a split second. It’s stupid, really. I shouldn’t scrutinize the way I look and neither should you.
I am so thankful for my husband who daily tells me that I am beautiful and that my body is doing exactly what it needs to do for our baby. I know that I will eventually get to exercise and lose weight. And I know that we all have a journey that we walk daily of learning to be comfortable in our own skin. Pregnancy should definitely be a time in a woman’s life when she feels the most beautiful. So, embrace the unrecognizable, yet still distinctly you, version of yourself during this time. Eat that brownie (maybe not the whole pan though…share some) or bread without worrying about the scale ticking up just because you enjoyed something that wasn’t a salad. Remember that you’re growing and nurturing a real life miracle, and cellulite and stretch marks are just a part of it all. You’ll be getting all of the cardio imaginable when that little one kicking you in the rib cage is running straight for your light colored couch with your favorite lipstick.
Pregnancy is exhausting and exhilarating; hard and empowering; full of anxiety and joy. A juxtaposition of so many things and emotions. If you’re struggling with body image during pregnancy and don’t recognize your body anymore, know you’re not alone. But also know that what society tells us is “beautiful” concerning pregnancy is only one form of it. Beauty comes in all shapes and sizes, with stretch marks and without, with clear skin and with breakouts, with shiny hair and dry hair, and all of the other things we women like to pick apart about ourselves. Show yourself some grace, indulge in some cravings, and know that you’re getting ready to bring a miracle into the world and that alone is BAD ASS. You’re strong and beautiful, mama!