I didn’t particularly like my body for most of my life. So the prospect of being pregnant and the rapid body change that comes with it scared the heck out of me!
Would this just accelerate the deterioration of my already unimpressive figure? The short answer was yes, but it also opened my eyes to what my body is capable of and over time it really changed the relationship I had with myself.
The physical changes are one thing, but the feeling of empowerment combined with the emotional and physical challenges that I began to love rather than fear made my pregnancy life-changing.
Accepting and embracing these challenges will be a different process for every woman. I found that the more proactive I became with self-care the more I enjoyed this change.
So I wanted to share nine areas of focus that can hopefully help you in the same way.
9 Ways to Self-Love Through Pregnancy
1. Document Your Journey
Not everyone is the post a selfie on social media every day type. But this doesn’t mean you can’t take regular photos to keep as a record for yourself.
This journey comes and goes fast and being able to look back and admire the changes in your body is priceless. So do it!
Set a day of the week, buy a sign you can use, and get those weekly photos of your expanding belly taken…. Instagram is optional!
2. Actively Manage Your Skin
Stretch marks on the skin…. The lingering reminder of your pregnancy that most women just wish were never a thing.
Unfortunately they are hard to avoid. There are lots of creams and gels that you can use to minimize them as your skin expands but some of the best things you can do for your skin are lifestyle related (see no. 6).
Whether they work or not, who knows. But I enjoyed rubbing lotion on my belly each day, and often I would catch myself singing to my unborn child at the same time.
3. Take Time for Yourself
A hot bath, a massage, or even a moment of gratitude or silent reflection every day can help you stop and appreciate your pregnancy journey.
Even if you maintain a busy lifestyle, put aside time for you.
Perhaps even starting a diary so you can journal for five minutes a day. It will be a great record to keep with your pregnancy photos. And you can reflect back on this time for years.
4. Splash Out on Maternity Clothes
Yes, you will probably be pouring all of your disposable income into baby stuff. But remember that throughout your pregnancy and recovery period you will need some looser fitting clothes.
This is a chance to update your wardrobe and embrace a new elegance that only pregnant women can.
Get something that you are excited to put on each day. It is a small luxury for yourself, but one you will get plenty of mileage from.
5. Buy a Maternity Pillow
If you buy nothing else for yourself through all of this, get a full body maternity pillow.
As your belly grows in size getting comfortable will be more difficult with so many different parts of your body that need support.
Having a big, flexible, and adaptive pillow makes everything so much easier!
You are going to be tired a lot of the time, and taking comfortable naps is one of the best ways to practice self love while pregnant.
6. Eat Well and Stay Hydrated
You will be vulnerable to excessive weight gain if you adopt the eating for two mentality. You will certainly want to eat more, but the quality of what you eat still matters.
A healthy diet will promote healthy weight gain.
A diet rich in vitamins like C, D, and E, zinc and protein, plus lots of fibre (stock up on prune juice too!) and you will be fine.
Also don’t forget that hydrated skin is supple skin. It moves easier, stretches efficiently, and has greater flexibility.
You don’t need creams and lotions to achieve this if you remember to drink lots of water!
Yes, you will be peeing a lot while pregnant anyway. But water is so important for overall body health and function that it is not to be skimped on while pregnant.
It can be hard to remember so get yourself a big bottle and leave it somewhere obvious so you can have a big sip every time you see it.
A minimum of 72 ounces of water should be consumed per day, and this number should increase during pregnancy.
If you plan to breastfeed your newborn then establishing good hydration habits now will be one less thing to change later.
7. Exercise (within reason)
Being active throughout your pregnancy will help you keep up your energy levels, and stay vibrant. The dopamine you get from exercise is a great way to keep your spirits up!
Exercise also improves blood circulation, which can help the body adapt to the rapid changes and minimize things like stretch marks.
Yes, there will be days when you just want to sit on the couch. But if your pregnancy allows for it – be guided by your doctor here – then maintaining an active lifestyle will prepare your body as well as possible life through and beyond pregnancy.
8. Embrace the Challenges
The aches and pains will grow as you get deeper into your pregnancy. And the closer you get to the big day the more overwhelm you may feel with all the preparation that you still need to do!
It is easy to let the stress and preparations get the better of you.
So start early, and learn to love the process. Decorating the nursery should be fun! Shopping for your new stroller should be fun! Planning that baby shower or gender reveal…. This is your time so spend it in a way that makes you happy, not stressed.
And if things get too much, outsource! Your family, girlfriends, and partner can all pitch in. You don’t have to do it all yourself.
9. Remember to Have Fun!
People may constantly want to rub your belly, everyone will have their little piece of unsolicited advice, and not everyone will be as nice to you as you may expect.
These things can get annoying at times, but just have fun with it.
Hopefully this will get you started on a plan for yourself to work towards loving yourself, and the journey of being pregnant.
It is hard, but the reward is getting closer every day.
The day your newborn arrives you might just miss your pregnancy…. And you will certainly miss the peace and quiet!
So make the most of every day.