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Coping with Changes in Your Body During and After Pregnancy

Kate Sheppard, Travel and Parenting Writer | June 12, 2023

Having a child can change your physical appearance quite drastically, altering how you see yourself in the mirror, and is a tough part of pregnancy for many people. Studies show that many women and birthing people often experience unrealistic expectations for how much they can (and should) control their own bodies, postpartum.

If you’re struggling to embrace your postpartum body, we have 7 tips to help you adjust to your new body and new life. Let’s work together to embrace our bodies during and after pregnancy, whatever form they may take!

Comparison is Not Your Friend

First up (and very important) is to acknowledge that you are different and that comparing yourself to other women is harmful. This is crucial during pregnancy and postpartum. It’s easy to scroll through Instagram or head to parent-baby groups and think that woman has a smaller bump than mine or why haven’t I lost my baby weight as fast as they have? But these thoughts are incredibly toxic to your mental wellbeing.

Remember, your body is your body. Just as you may have longer legs or wider hips than someone else, the way you look during and after pregnancy will be different, too! 

Learn About Your Body’s Changes

Many new mothers find the changes happening to their bodies can be overwhelming, and that’s okay. If you’re not aware of what’s going to happen and why, it can be pretty daunting when your physical shape begins to shift. But, if you learn the reasons behind what’s happening from the early stages of your fertility journey, all the way up to your delivery date you may find it easier to deal with and know roughly what to expect.

For example, you might see some hair loss during pregnancy or postpartum. This often happens as your hormone levels fluctuate, and is nothing to be worried about. It’s a temporary effect of falling oestrogen levels and will return back to normal as your body does. This is the same across all aspects of your pregnancy. It’s vital you’re prepared, so speak to professionals, attend events, and do your own online research to understand what’s going to happen during each of your trimesters. 

Embrace Physical Self-Care

Self-care and self-compassion are closely linked to body confidence. When you show your body a little bit of love, it can alter your mindset and help you feel more positive about the way you look. It’s as simple as that!

During and after pregnancy, prioritize self-care. For this to work, your routine can’t be rushed but instead needs to be purposeful, thoughtful, and slow. As you carry out actions of self-care, remind yourself that you’re doing them because you love your body and all that it does.

Some different body image self-care activities include:

  • Having a relaxing bath
  • Keeping up a skincare routine
  • Going for a walk or exercising your body
  • Eating health supportive foods
  • Using special skincare products
  • Dressing up in nice clothes that you feel happy in
  • Dancing in the mirror alone
  • Massaging your skin with oils after a relaxing bath

Now more than ever during pregnancy, your body deserves some TLC. Take the time to look after yourself and you could see a big difference in your body confidence.

Activate Your Support System

Your support system is there to do just that – support!

During and after pregnancy, support can take many forms, from helping out with childcare to picking up your food shopping when you’re overwhelmed. It can also mean emotional support as your body changes. 

When others aren’t aware that you may struggle with body image, they can make harmful comments and it may feel like a blow to your confidence. Ask your family and friends to be sensitive of body image topics. 

If you’re feeling down about your physical appearance or struggling to cope, let your loved ones know and reach out for their help. An affirmation that you’re beautiful along with a loving hug can go a long way!

Stop Body Checking and Check-in with your Body

Body checking is when you keep analyzing your physical self. Perhaps you keep lifting your jumper in the mirror to inspect your stomach or getting on the scales every time you’re in the bathroom. These aren’t healthy habits and can lead to obsessive thoughts about your body image.

To adjust your body checking habits, here are some tips you can try:

  • Get rid of your scales (or put them out of sight)
  • Wear clothes you know you feel good in
  • Take some time away from the mirror
  • Say one positive thing about yourself when you catch yourself body checking.

Set Reasonable Expectations

The media has totally skewed our perceptions of what a pregnant and postpartum body should look like. A lot of celebrities follow unhealthy exercise regimes and diets during and after pregnancy, and rely on photoshop to present an unrealistic image of their body to the world. 

Set reasonable expectations for your body. You’re growing a life inside you, and it’s normal to get bigger, have swollen ankles, and develop stretch marks. It’s also normal for your bump to stick around after pregnancy, and to develop cellulite and sagging skin. Don’t rush yourself to get back to a pre-pregnancy body. Take your time, let yourself heal, and know that your body has just done something extraordinary.

Eat Well and Exercise

Nutrition and exercise are essential throughout pregnancy and your postpartum period, but not for aesthetic reasons. Eating well and staying active help your body to become stronger and helps with the demands of new motherhood. 

But exercise and eating for your health (check out our Glow Foods section for nutrition inspiration) can help you see your body in a better light. Just make sure you do everything healthily and put your body’s strength and flexibility before its appearance. 

During and after pregnancy, you’re going to see a lot of changes in your body, but how you choose to view these changes can be up to you. Hopefully, these tips will encourage you to think more positively about your pregnancy body and help you on days when you don’t.

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