I'll be the first to admit that I absolutely hated being pregnant, mostly because I didn't really appreciate or like or feel comfortable in my pregnant body. It was hard for me to come to terms with all the constant, often nauseating changes my body was experienced as I cooked another human being in my belly. I wasn't really "happy" with the shape I was taking. Thankfully, and eventually, I did find ways to fall in love with my pregnant body, but I would be lying if I said it was easy. In fact, it was a constant struggle.
In a society that seems to only value women in terms of how they look or how attractive they're perceived to be, it can be difficult to love your body, whether it's pregnant or not. Our cultural standards of "beauty" are unforgiving, at best, and when you're gaining weight society tells you you're not supposed to gain, and you're expanding in a way our society tells you you're not suppose to expand (even when you're pregnant) self-loathing can hit you in the face quick and fast and in an unforgiving fashion. Tack on the loss of complete body autonomy and pregnancy side effects like hemorrhoids and constipation and vomiting and, well, it's not fun, you guys. Pregnancy just isn't always that much fun.
However, pregnancy is also a pretty miraculous thing, especially when you stop and think about all the things your body is accomplishing on a daily basis. I mean, even if you're just sitting on your couch, you're not just sitting on your couch; you're sitting on your couch and growing another freakin' human being. That's incredible. So, while it can be so difficult to learn to love your pregnant body when it's changing and seemingly plotting against you, if you try a few of the following suggestions, you may just find yourself able to really appreciate just how incredible your body is, pregnant or otherwise.
Remember What Your Body Is Accomplishing On A Daily Basis
It can be extremely easy to focus on the negative aspects of pregnancy (like morning sickness or fatigue or constipation or you freakin' name it) and forget that your body is doing something incredible.
For me, and while I will be the first to admit that it took some constant effort, focusing on what my body was doing instead of how it was looking, made all the difference. I may have felt awkward and uncomfortable in my body as it continued to change, but there were was a reason behind it and that reason is pretty remarkable.
Research The Changes You'll Likely Experience...
In order to keep my eye on the "prize," I made it a point to track my baby's progress and anticipate the many changes I would probably, and inevitably, endure. It helped me to know what was going on, and why it was going on, in order to come to terms with this new form and how I felt inside of it. Plus, knowing that you're growing something that, this week, is the size of a summer squash, is pretty cool.
...And Then Feel Free To Celebrate Those Changes
Don't judge me for throwing a little mini-party about the fact that, thanks to my pregnant body, my child has developed finger nails this week. Don't be surprised if, next week or the week after or whenever it happens, I'll throw another mini-party because, now, my kid has hair.
Honestly, because you can't see what's going on inside of your pregnant body (you can only see the changes occurring on the outside) it helps to research and celebrate exactly what your body is facilitating. Sure, I may feel like absolute garbage, but it's because my body is helping my kid grow his heart right now. It's worth it.
Allow Yourself To Not Always (Or, At All) Love Being Pregnant
For me, the most important part of learning to love my pregnant body was having the courage to admit that I didn't like being pregnant. Like, at all. In fact, I hated it. I really didn't like losing control over my body and having a tiny little fetus call the shots. I didn't like feeling outside of myself; like this body wasn't necessarily mine anymore.
The moment I admitted that to myself (and especially out loud) I was able to really appreciate what my body was simultaneously doing and enduring. No, I didn't have to like it, but I could start to really be in awe of all that was transpiring and, in turn, love that my body was capable of doing something so insane (even when it sucked).
Don't Be Afraid To "Dress Up" And Go Out...
Your pregnant body isn't something you need to hide (if you don't want to). There's nothing wrong with wearing something form fitting and showing off that baby bump and owning the life choice you're currently experiencing.
I will admit that towards the end of my pregnancy, I was all about the dresses and the tight shirts. I wanted to enjoy the final leg of my pregnancy by highlighting exactly how much my body had changed. It was pretty awesome.
...But Don't Feel Like You Have To, Because Comfort Is Key
However, if I didn't feel like going out or showing off my pregnant stomach, I didn't. Comfort is the name of the game, people, and if you really want to love your body, you need to give your body room. Take up space. Be unapologetic about your size. Enjoy the amount of room you take up in the world. Don't "squeeze" into something (f you don't want to). If you take the time to simply be, then you can simply enjoy being pregnant.
If You're Up For It (And It's Safe) Have Sex
If your doctor or midwife has given you the all-clear to have sex (and unless there's a complication, they will) feel free to have all the pregnant sex your heart desires. Do you have to have sex? No way. Not when you're pregnant (or ever). However, if you're feeling up to it and you're one of the women who experience a higher sex drive when pregnant, enjoy yourself. Sex is a great way to get in touch with and enjoy your body.
Stay Active (If You Can And If It's Safe)
Again, you should always consult with your doctor or midwife, but changes are (unless you'e experiencing complications) it's perfectly fine to be active. This doesn't mean you have to be diligent about gym time so you can keep the "pregnancy weight off." I'm sorry, but enough of that garbage.
This just means that walking around and/or enjoying some of the work outs that made you feel good about your body before you were pregnant, can help. I know that I often felt at my lowest when I was just laying on the couch. Once I was up and walking around, I started to really feel better about my pregnant body.
Take Notice Of Some Pregnant Celebrities Who Fight Against Pregnancy Shaming
Celebrities are under a constant barrage of ridiculous scrutiny, especially women celebrities and especially pregnant celebrities. If you're feeling down about your pregnant body, it doesn't hurt to turn to some pregnant celebrities that have shut down pregnancy shaming like the bosses they are.
Remember That, Even Though It Feels Like It, You Won't Be Pregnant Forever
I promise, you will not become the first woman to be pregnant for the rest of her life. Eventually, your pregnancy will end. It will. I promise.
I had to tell myself this very obvious but sometimes very easy to forget fact, regularly. Pregnancy isn't forever, so when you can (and if you want to) try and find a way to enjoy it.