In a previous blog post this week we discussed how pregnancy can be a challenging time for many women, in particular for their relationship with their bodies. Below we list a few tips on keeping a healthy body image during pregnancy.
1. Anticipate the changes that your body will go through. Try to embrace rather than fear these changes. Try not to focus on weight but instead focus on the new role that your body is taking on. Each and every body change is necessary for the health and protection of your baby. Embrace these changes where possible and value the role your body has in protecting your growing baby.
2. Focus on your babies needs rather than on your own. Recognise the importance of your own nutritional and emotional health in meeting the needs of your baby and try to make these your focus.
3. View the changes your body is going through as an essential part of pregnancy. Focus on the life changes that you are looking forward to rather than the changes that you are more anxious about.
4. Treat and care for your body. Pamper it, do things that make you feel good, allow yourself to buy new clothes, get your nails done, pamper your body with a pregnancy massage. All of these things can make you feel better and can help you achieve a healthier relationship with your body.
5. Focus on the things you can do rather than the things you can’t. Hobbies or interests may have to change slightly during pregnancy but they don’t have to change dramatically. Exercise, socialising, ‘dating’ your partner, are all important during pregnancy and do not have to stop.
6. Recognise the hormonal changes that your body is going through and how these might be making you feel. Acknowledge that your emotions may be more intense or may change quickly. Ensure that you are looking after yourself by eating regularly and getting enough sleep to help you deal as best you can with these hormonal changes.
7. Talk to others. One of the biggest fears pregnant women have is that they shouldn’t be feeling how they are. Many women struggle with the changes their bodies go through during this time in their lives. You don’t have to love every second of pregnancy. Share how you are feeling with others and keep talking to those who understand or can relate to your own struggles.
8. Take weight out of the equation if necessary. Though it is likely that the majority of your doctor and midwife appointments will involve weighing, you do not always have to know what your weight is doing. If you know that it is likely to cause distress or trigger unhealthy behaviours or obsessions, request that you are not told exactly what you weigh but rather whether your baby is growing healthily.
9. Reduce unhelpful behaviours. Body checking, body comparisons, focussing on the areas you are unhappy with are all likely to make you feel worse. Try to resist these behaviours and instead focus on things that you feel good or positive about.
10. Seek help. Pregnancy is a challenging time, especially for those who have pre existing body image or eating difficulties. Recognise the importance of seeking help when you need it and don’t feel ashamed to tell people that you are struggling.