Love Your Changing Body

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When I was a little girl, my sister and I loved stuffing pillows under our clothes to pretend we were having a baby. We would walk around the house and neighborhood in princess dresses and our mother’s high heels flaunting our beautiful, fluffed bellies without a care in the world. Our mother seemed to get a kick out of this game and would reinforce how beautiful we looked. “You’re glowing,” she would say, as if we had any idea what that meant at 5 and 6 years old.

As my belly continues to get bigger and bigger and I watch the number on the scale get higher and higher, I think about how I wish I felt the same confidence and excitement about my pregnant belly as I did when I was a child. But, instead of dressing up and walking around the neighborhood showing off how beautiful I am, I wear grungy, loose-fitting clothes and try my hardest not to be seen. And, instead of admiring my pregnancy glow, I obsess about my gross oily skin, acne, and, yes, even backne!

Ahhhhh... to see the world through the eyes of a child. Why don’t we? I know sometimes it doesn’t make sense (like if a stranger in a creepy van offers us candy), but why don’t many women love and accept their changing bodies before and after giving birth? After all, they are actually more amazing than they were before. Think of all they are doing? They created life and are giving that life everything it needs to survive! It is absolutely incredible!

Unfortunately, many women overlook the wonder and beauty of their bodies due to the fact that they no longer can fit into their skinny jeans, they have stretch marks that didn’t exist before, and they are pounds upon pounds over their ideal weight. This may cause them to spiral into states of anxiety and depression that are dangerous for their health and the health of their children.

So what can we do to improve our mood and outlook on our beautiful, amazing, life-sustaining, changing bodies? Here’s a list of things that can help. They are in no particular order, so embrace the ones that work best for you!

1) RELAX.

Take a nap, sit on the beach, meditate, attend a restorative yoga class, go to the spa…Do what helps you unwind.

2) EXERCISE.

Being active releases endorphins, elevates our mood and energy, reduces feelings of stress and anxiety, and improves our physical health so we can better support ourselves and our children. It does not have to be intense. Do what feels right for your body. If you want an extra boost, try to exercise outside in nature.

3) CHALLENGE YOUR NEGATIVE THOUGHTS AND GAIN A DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVE.

Explore the meaning you are giving the situation. Is this meaning based on facts or opinions? Are you focused on what your body should look like based on the ideals of society? How important is this perspective and how important will it be in the future? Is there a better way to view your situation?

4) BE GENTLE AND KIND WITH YOURSELF.

You are going through a lot and are an amazing person! Look at what you are doing! It takes an incredible amount of strength to raise little human beings! Show yourself the kindness and love that you would show a friend going through the same thing.

5) EAT HEALTHY.

Drink lots of water and eat foods that provide you with important nutrients. But remember to be gentle and kind with yourself, so it’s ok if you want to indulge in a bowl of ice cream.

6) ENGAGE IN ACTIVITIES YOU ENJOY.

Maybe you want to take up a new hobby, or maybe you have one that you haven’t done in a while. Read that book you have been hearing such good things about, or learn how to crochet a blanket for your little one! There are so many options to explore!

7) JOURNAL.

Writing down our thoughts can help us release negative feelings. It also can help us gain new perspectives. So write down those things that are bothering you, but also remember to journal about your strengths and the things you are grateful for.

8) CONNECT.

Make sure you are tending to your relationships. Spend time with your partner, family, and friends. Call people on the phone. See a therapist. You are not alone and there are people who can help you realize how beautiful and awesome you and your body are!

Bridget Benninger