Body Image, pregnancy

Learning to Love My Body

Today I thought I’d talk a little about body image. I’ve mentioned it in passing in other posts, particularly my most recent maternity wear post, but I thought it might be worth going into a little more detail about my relationship with my body and how pregnancy has fit into that.

I want to start from my baseline: I’ve had issues with body image and disordered eating pretty much my entire adult life. It started in high school and ebbed and flowed with different events in my life. But I’ve never truly been satisfied with how my body works. Eventually I realized that I felt better about my body when I focused on what it could do rather than what it looked like. And I’ve had a tendency to restrict my eating whenever I felt like I was gaining too much weight, to unhealthy ends.

So naturally, I was really worried when I got pregnant. I worried about how I would handle gaining weight. And I handled it about as well as I thought I would at first. Of course, I lost a little weight in the beginning because of my nausea, which put off the concerns, but eventually I started making that up, and started looking, well, bloated. But since I knew I needed to make up for lost weight, and since somehow pregnancy hormones have made my anxiety less of a problem rather than more, I didn’t really worry about it.

And then, when I was in Barcelona, I caught a glimpse of my naked body in the hotel mirror and realized that, damn, I look good. It turns out I like the way my pregnant body looks. It doesn’t hurt that my first physical sign was increased breast size and I’ve always been self-conscious about my small breasts, but even as my belly swelled and got bigger, I’ve enjoyed the look of my pregnant body more and more.

So now I’m sometimes left wondering if this will last postpartum. Will I be able to look at my postpartum body and see the swelling fertility goddess that I see now? At this point, I’m mostly trying to enjoy it while I have it. And I’m curious to see if I continue feeling this way when I eventually get stretch marks (I’m not quite 32 weeks and I know plenty of women don’t get them until right at the end). But until then, I’m enjoying what I have.

Of course, not everyone feels this way. And I imagine this post comes as a surprise after all the complaining I did about how my body feels most days. But I wanted to share how I feel so that people know that it’s not always a certainty that you’ll hate your body, even if you hate gaining weight, and that it’s also possible to both love and hate pregnancy’s effects.