Our bodies go through many changes during pregnancy, some of which we have no control over. These changes can have a positive or negative impact on our body image. This blog post will review some of the changes our bodies can go through. It will also review ways to keep a positive attitude about those changes.
Examples of Physical Changes During Pregnancy
- Weight gain
- Enlarging breasts
- Growing uterus
- Stretch marks
Weight Gain, Swelling and Stretch Marks
Our bodies need to grow in certain areas to support a growing baby. Bodies require more nutrients during pregnancy and weight gain is normal. The average birthing person gains about 30 pounds during pregnancy. Weight gain will vary depending on diet and other factors. Uteruses need to grow to accommodate the baby as well as amniotic fluid. This fluid is needed to protect the baby from any bumps or falls.
All this growth can lead to stretch marks. These are very common during pregnancy and usually found on the stomach or breast tissue. About 90% of birthing people will develop them. Stretch marks can also be caused by swelling, which is due to the body producing more blood and fluids to support the pregnancy. This swelling is normal and can be in the face, hands, ankles, or feet. It’s this increase in fluid and blood that causes the “glow” of pregnancy.
Impacts of Hormonal Changes
There is an increase in hormones during pregnancy. This increase in hormones can lead to acne or rashes. Changes in skin typically clear up after pregnancy. Hormonal changes also cause the uterus and breasts to increase in size. As mentioned before, a uterus needs to grow in order to support a growing baby. Breasts increase in size due to milk production.
Hormonal changes can cause different emotions and mood swings. These symptoms can continue after childbirth. Finding a healthy support system-through family, friends, church, or even therapy can be helpful. Pickles and Ice Cream Georgia offers support groups for prenatal, pregnant and postpartum moms.
Keeping a Positive Body Image
With all the changes happening to our bodies during pregnancy, it can be hard to keep a positive body image. It’s important to remind ourselves that most of these changes are normal and necessary.
The following tips can help to embrace these changes:
- Exercising: Exercise has been shown to increase endorphins and make people feel better mentally as well as physically. Moving your body regularly can help you appreciate how strong and healthy it is. Yoga is a great, low impact way to get exercise while pregnant (after approval from your doctor)
- Taking time to do something you love: Getting a massage, a pedicure, meeting up with friends or family are some examples of activities that can make you feel happy and healthy while pregnant.
- Having a strong support network: Have someone you feel safe reaching out to if you find yourself struggling. Keeping negative emotions bottled up will only make them worse
The changes our bodies go through do not suddenly disappear once a baby is born. Sometimes the changes, such as stretch marks, may be permanent. Vitamin E oil can reduce their appearance, but they may never go away. It can also take time to lose any weight gained during pregnancy. Don’t expect a flat belly right after giving birth. Our bodies grow during pregnancy, and they will need time to recover. Continuing to get regular exercise (after approval from your doctor) will help this process.
Hormonal changes also do not go away right after the baby is born. The emotional changes and mood swings felt during pregnancy can carry over into the postpartum period. It is important to try and maintain a support system during this time. There are many resources out there to offer support and education. Pickles and Ice Cream Georgia is a wonderful one that is available for free. We work hard to provide lots of information on self-care during and after pregnancy. Please explore our site to learn more about the resources we offer.
Blog Writer: Rebecca (Becca) Cook BSN, RN
Blog Reviewer: Dr. Krista Mincey, MPH, Dr.PH, MCHES
- Body Image During Pregnancy | American Pregnancy Association
- Pregnancy and body image | Office on Women’s Health (womenshealth.gov)