Pregnancy is the unusually beautiful journey of having company inside of your own skin. There is no other point in your life where you are so connected to another being and so interdependently intertwined. Two bodies wrapped up in one, one inside of the other, two worlds exist at the same time in the same place. Both bodies growing, there is a beautiful unity that occurs in those tandem changes, though, even though this deep beauty captivates the pregnant soul, there are moments and sometimes days when the pregnant body feels foreign to the one who owns it. For those foreign days, I wanted to put together a short list of five simple ways to love your body during pregnancy, as I have used these methods myself to love my own pregnant and ever-changing body. As Anne Christian Buchanan wrote, “to be pregnant is to be vitally alive, thoroughly woman, and distressingly inhabited. Soul and spirit are stretched – along with body – making pregnancy a time of transition, growth, and profound beginnings,” let us embrace the full beauty of pregnancy and relish every moment of this opportunity to feel “vitally alive.”
Here’s the list of five simple ways to fully love and connect with the physical changes you might be experiencing and yearning to embrace during your pregnancy:
Don’t compare yourself to other bumps.
Comparison is the thief of joy, and yet we still compare ourselves, and our bumps to one another. I have Googled bump progressions more times that I would like to admit, but the reality is that our desire to know how we are “measuring up” so to speak is natural, but one we must be diligent about silencing. With this being my second pregnancy, the temptation to compare this baby bump to my first baby bump is a daily struggle – and I am continually reminding myself that this is a different pregnancy, different season, and different bump. There is no such thing as an identical pregnancy or identical bump, so it’s time we start giving ourselves time to breathe. The bump is one thing that doesn’t need to be compared, but instead just needs to be cherished and embraced, because let’s face it – it’s out of our control anyways.
Stay active daily.
Movement is important for everyone, but especially for those expecting. There is so much going on inside of the pregnant woman’s body at any given time that it’s easily understandable that the desire to do more and move more might not be one’s top priority, but it should be. Not only will exercise and movement help you stay healthy during pregnancy and recover your pre-baby-body postpartum even quicker, but it will boost your natural endorphins and give you a positive hormonal boost to really feel amazing about your body. The more you feel connected to yourself physically, the more you will be able to connect to the beautiful changes happening to your body in pregnancy. Movement is the magic connector that creates unity between our body and our brain, and for a body undergoing 40 weeks of crazy, seemingly unpredictable changes, congruency and connection between the body and brain is worth its weight in gold.
Marvel at the miracle taking place inside of you.
The funny thing about pregnancy is that you feel pregnant all the time and yet you forget that you are pregnant often too. In other words, your hormones are out of wack and you feel like this is the longest shortest season of your life – every emotion seems to be in conflict with another, and well, it can be just downright confusing. One thing that is irrefutable though is that no matter how you feel, you are housing a miracle inside of you. To truly love your body through pregnancy find ways to remind yourself daily that you are partaking in a miracle. Not only are you the home for the miracle, but you are the physical lifeline to it and you are privy to the privilege of being the first and closest witness to the life you are creating inside of you. Hormones and an expanding body can disrupt and distract you from celebrating the amazing process that is going on because of your body – so resist the urge to criticize your changing body and commit to celebrating it for the miracle source that it is.
Remember what is temporary and what is permanent.
Because both my husband and I love to write, we have a waterproof notepad in our shower to document ideas and inspiration as they come to us. On said notepad, my sweet husband wrote a powerful pregnancy mantra for me one morning after I had worked through an unusually emotional pregnancy night. Scribbled and signed with an “xo” he wrote: “The changes to your body are temporary, but this beautiful baby is permanent. Trust God and trust the process.” Such true words might seem painfully obvious, but as you journey from week to week of pregnancy they are imperative to remember as you really commit to loving your pregnant body. The pregnant body is a masterpiece and only lasts a season, so indulge yours with kind words and affirmations and you will find that the temporary changes, though sometimes uncomfortable or hard to adjust to, are actually more beautiful than you had previously seen and felt.
Fuel your body well when you can.
With an athletic background and then a decade as a fitness professional, I am and always have been attentive and careful about my nutrition, adhering to an all-around clean diet with moderate indulgences. Your pregnant body, as I have experienced firsthand, can send all sorts of unexpected foods into your mouth, foods you would normally never have eaten or even wanted. Listen to your body and trust your cravings. For me this pregnancy, all my baby boy wants is ginger – ginger everything. I am drinking Ginger Ale, eating ginger snaps, sucking on ginger candies and even found a ginger jam that I plan to try tomorrow morning. Instead of listening to fear and worrying about what your cravings are going to do to your body, listen to what your body needs when it needs it. For those times when you aren’t craving anything in particular, focus on choosing the cleanest, healthiest and best foods you can – that will make up for the pregnancy cravings for when they do come. As with anything, you will love your body when you body loves you back, and your body will love you back when you listen to it – and believe me, your body is telling you that it wants its pregnancy cravings as well as the healthy, nutrient-rich food it needs – your job is to listen to it and moderately indulge and make choices to fuel your body well when you can.
This post and these steps in a nutshell? Your pregnant body is amazingly beautiful and is stirring with new life in bloom. There is no other body that will look like yours and there is no other baby being created that will be quite like yours. Let us move forward and celebrate the miracles surrounding us and resist the temptation to compare our bumps to that of others’ or that of which we have experienced before. Each baby bump is its own little miracle and beauty and I hope you relish in yours today with heartfelt affection.