Body Image and Pregnancy

Pregnancy and body image

This week on the blog we will be thinking about body image and pregnancy – an issue that we know is a  growing concern for a number of mums to be. In this post we discuss the greatest body image concerns and issues faced by pregnant women.

1. Gaining Weight: Weight gain is a very natural and absolutely essential part of pregnancy however seeing weight go on can be very challenging for a lot of mums. A common fear can be whether you are gaining the ‘right’ amount of weight during pregnancy and whether this weight will come off easily after the baby is born. A recent survey suggested that fear of weight gain may be the number 1 reason why women opt not to have children.

2. Eating disorders in pregnancy: It is not uncommon for women to either develop an eating disorder during pregnancy or shortly after giving birth, or for women who have previously recovered from an eating disorder to experience a relapse of symptoms.  This is occasionally referred to as ‘pregorexia’. It is very important to remember that extreme dieting and exercise is risky when not pregnant but can be risky both for the mum and the growing baby when it occurs during pregnancy. Professional help can be very important when pregnancy triggers the onset or relapse of an eating disorder

3. Body Dysmorphic Disorder: BDD is a psychological condition where an individuals perception of themselves becomes distorted. Perceived flaws become completely preoccupying and extremely distressing. BDD both occur during pregnancy and can also make the body changes that occur during pregnancy harder to cope with.

4. Losing control: When you’re pregnant, you’re no longer living for yourself — you’re responsible for a growing baby.  Pregnancy results in all kinds of physical, emotional and lifestyle changes, many of which are far beyond your control. The fear of losing control can be especially troubling for women with eating disorders because they typically focus on perfection and maintaining control. Getting pregnant may be the ultimate way of losing control.

5. Losing weight due to morning sickness: For some women, gaining pregnancy weight is not a difficult issue, rather the fear of losing weight usually due to morning sickness may result in high levels of anxiety. It is always recommended that medical attention be sought when morning sickness is severe and / or weight is not going up as recommended, but it is also important to talk about and find support to manage the anxiety that this may be causing.

6. Losing your style: Pregnancy will inevitably influence and change your fashion choices. Especially towards the end of pregnancy, a growing bump can be very hard to dress, leaving many women feeling distressed and dissatisfied. For some women, their changing fashion style can trigger anxiety that they will be seen differently, treated differently, or that they will no longer fit in to friendship groups. For a lot of women appearance, weight, shape and fashion sense is heavily tied into their sense of identity and their view of themselves. When this changes due to pregnancy women can be left struggling with their identity and with fears about how they are perceived by others.

Pregnancy is a challenging time for many women, and body image issues can add to this challenge. Added to this is the impact of comments about your growing body, a sense of your body no longer being your own, and an unspoken pressure to ‘love your bump’. The blog this week will continue to think about the issue of body image issues in pregnancy. Look out for tips on how to stay happy and healthy in your pregnant body later in the week.

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