Pregnancy + Body Image: It’s Okay Not To Always Feel Okay

Pregnancy is a beautiful time.

What is happening inside of an expecting mother is nothing short of a miracle. There is no denying that, but in the same breath, it is also important to recognize that not all women feel beautiful as their body grows into this new child-making role. This role that although anticipated with extreme gratitude, is also as foreign as travelling somewhere new for the very first time. Much like a lost reservation and a cancelled flight, it can be messy, unpredictable and downright ugly at times, leaving mom-to-be feeling out of body in a way she could have never prepared herself for. 

Even though these emotions are raw and on the surface, we can’t help but recognize that we aren’t supposed to feel that way, are we?

We are supposed to smile, rub our bellies and be happy. Let me be clear – we are happy. But we are also adjusting to a whole new way of movement: sleeping, exercising, showering, sex. And I’ll be the first to admit, there are days (and most nights) when this growing bump gets in the way.

When it does, and a once-easy task like tying my shoes or shaving my pubic hair becomes complicated, the next thing that begins to crumble is self-esteem. Not in an I’m-so-vain-that-I-can’t-handle-becoming-larger kind of way, but in a shit-this-is-kind-of-more-draining-than-expected way. 

And let’s face it, it’s not just our bellies that are affected. It’s our complexions, our swollen fingers, our newly formed cankles and where’d-you-come-from double chins. When every little thing about you slowly begins to change, it’s more than reasonable for a little self-doubt to creep in.

We are human after all.

And it’s okay to be happy and a little sad at the same time. To love seeing your bump grow but mourn your slowly disappearing belly button. To look forward to the baby’s movements but also miss the stillness of sleep. To lay down when you’re tired but dream of being out on a run. 

It’s okay not to be okay with feeling out of body. In a way, you are the most out of body you will ever be. Your body is no longer yours alone and is working in overdrive to create, support and grow another life. How amazing and exhausting is that?

Unfortunately this internal debate on our emotions often extends itself into our outside world. As a society we have decided that being pregnant is not only beautiful but also physically tiresome. It’s our own wicked double standard. We associate pregnant women with being slow, sweaty and exhausted, which although may be true, really strips away a layer of that shiny glow. 

“Pregnancy brain” has become as common of a term as “morning sickness” and the associations around what pregnancy brain implies, doesn’t leave us childbearing women with much room for change – or confidence. At work we are seen as scattered. At home we are worn out. In social settings we are boring. And yet, aren’t we SO beautiful?

Let me be the voice for us all when I say that pregnancy IS beautiful and it’s also ALL of those other things and that is OKAY. I mean, I have to toot literally every time I move, and although I kind of get a kick out of it, it doesn’t exactly make me feel stunning.

As a woman, pregnant or not, I desire the feeling of femininity. Of feeling comfortable in my own skin. And when those feelings are abruptly stripped away with excess weight and gas in the forefront, it can become a little challenging.

So what can we do?

We can continue to celebrate the little gift inside of us. Lean into the changes the best we can: the good, the bad and the ugly. And most importantly, not beat ourselves up on the days we don’t feel our best. For at times standing in front of the mirror in pure wonder and excitement and other times, in an irritated disgust. 

We are women first.

We are human and we are all doing the best that we can. 

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