Body image in pregnancy

Everyone is different.  The way that our bodies grow, change and shape themselves to hold and carry our baby in pregnancy can vary greatly from one person to another.

Whilst often we are surrounded with soft images of expectant mothers with their perfect baby bumps whilst maintaining otherwise unchanged body proportions, for most women this is not the reality.

It is important to acknowledge that, whilst there are a number of  positive ‘side-effects’ of pregnancy (like stronger hair and nails and glowing skin from hormones), unfortunately there are also be some less pleasant aspects, including weight gain on other areas (besides your tummy), swollen legs, varicose veins – just to name a few.

This is is all part and parcel of pregnancy.

The outward changes to your body size and shape is often a talking point with others, which also may increase the focus on your body image.  Whilst you may feel pressure to look a certain way, it is important that you try and view pregnancy within this realistic context.

When you’re pregnant, you do feel very vulnerable and self-conscious about your body, and I did feel pretty awful about the comments and the pictures…..But then I thought ‘you know what, bugger it, I’m growing a baby’.

Sarah Harris

Too often we can place unrealistic pressures or expectations on ourselves about how we should, or will look throughout pregnancy.

For women, whilst it is important to eat well and quality food to provide nourishment to yourself and your baby, it can be hard if you are not feeling comfortable with your changing proportions.  Here, it is helpful to keep in mind and appreciate the amazing ability of your body to create a little person.  Reflecting on this can certainly help to keep things in perspective and focus on the positive.

It amazes me what a woman’s body can do.  My wife doesn’t understand it because she’s self-conscious about it but, when I see her body, I think it’s so beautiful.  It’s a sign of what a woman can do in all her glory and all of its extraordinary capabilities that men will never have.  I find it incredibly sexy.  

Keeping it all in perspective

They key is to focus on your priorities and what is really important.

During pregnancy, this is a time to be nurturing your physical health, emotional health and wellbeing.  You can do this by:

  • eating well – good quality food will nourish both you and your growing baby
  • exercising sensibly – even a gentle walk can be great for maintaining mental wellbeing by stimulating those endorphins which have  positive impact on your mood, as well as giving you a sense of achievement
  • being aware of your expectations around body image – are these realistic or are you putting pressure on yourself?

Your number one priority right now is to provide a nurturing and nourishing environment for your baby, and you can do this by taking the pressure off and maintaining a realistic, and healthy outlook.