Coping with body changes during pregnancy

Pregnancy | | HiPP Organic


Here’s a big question: how are you feeling about your body now that you are pregnant?

Many of us struggle with body image throughout our lives. And during pregnancy, with the obvious impact of weight gain as well as the other side effects that come with growing a brand-new person, this struggle can be exacerbated.

Let’s start by saying: your body is doing remarkable things right now, and there is not one right way to look pregnant. The perfect body is just as much a myth now as it always is. Having said that, we know the pressure you might feel to look a certain way.

Our HiPP mums have felt it, too. So, this is just a way to share our experiences and make sure you know, whatever you’re feeling, you aren’t alone.

How to cope in the early months

Before you get a defined bump, you can feel particularly self-conscious about your body. You may be gaining weight without assuming the expected ‘shape’ of pregnancy, or feeling puffy and bloated, spotty and unattractive.

‘This is the thing I really struggled with: a changing body,’ says HiPP mum Helen. ‘No matter how many times people told me that I should be happy that my changing body was due to growing a baby, it didn’t help. Everyone is different, and copes differently, so I would say it’s ok to just accept the way you feel, and know that you can get your body shape gently back with no pressure once your baby is born.’

Be kind to yourself. Talk to yourself as you would your best friend. Remind yourself what your body is busy doing.

Embracing your bump

For some women, their changing bodies give reassurance that the baby is growing as it should be, and the impact on their confidence and self-esteem is more positive.

‘I was mesmerized to see my shape change,’ says Faye, part of the HiPP family. ‘I measured my hips, belly, bust and thighs every week and took photos of myself so I had a record of how my body changed. I actually liked the way I looked pregnant as I felt my clothes fitted me better at long last. Finally, I was supposed to look pregnant whereas normally I get a bloated tummy and feel really self-conscious!’

This was true for many of our HiPP mums, who found their confidence grew with their bump.

‘I loved the changes,’ says Gen. ‘It meant I could wear a tight body con dresses and not feel fat!’

Kirsten agrees: ‘As my bump got bigger, I felt more confident wearing tighter clothes’, while Nicola remembers: ‘I loved my pregnancy boobs and flaunted them like mad!’

Dealing with stretch marks

Around 8 out of 10 women get stretch marks during pregnancy, as their skin adjusts to the rapid growth of their bodies. If your stretch marks get you down, remember – they will likely fade over time, and there are some lotions out there that may help your skin to stretch without marking so badly. Our HiPP mums recommend Bio-Oil, Fantastic Skin Elastic, Neals Yard’s Mothers Balm, or even regular moisturiser to help improve skin elasticity.

‘Someone told me that the secret is to gently exfoliate your bump every day in the shower and then use any old moisturiser, so I did that,’ says HiPP mum Leah, while Jo advises: ‘Embrace it; what’s a few stretch marks anyway?’

From pregnancy glow to full-blow acne

The ‘pregnancy glow’ can come and go throughout your pregnancy, thanks to hormonal changes and increased blood flow, either of which can make you look flushed. Pregnancy hormones can also cause increased levels of oil on your skin, giving you that fresh, dewy appearance. Unfortunately, this can have another, less positive side effect: spots.

Pregnancy acne and broken blood vessels can also be responsible for rosy cheeks. Try not to let this knock your confidence. It won’t last forever. And on the plus side, you should also be feeling the benefits of stronger nails and healthier hair, thanks to these same hormones.

When you don’t look big enough

While some women get sick of hearing ‘you must be due soon’ from about halfway through their pregnancy, others can get right to the end of pregnancy without developing the typical big baby bump. This might be because of the way the baby is positioned, or due to other factors – like the mother’s height – but if you are at all concerned you should talk to your healthcare professional.

When asked about body image, HiPP mum Nicola says: ‘I stressed more about not growing enough. My first baby was really small for dates, so I spent a lot of extra time having growth scans.’

It just goes to show – everyone is different. And while it’s normal for mums-to-be to worry, we’re not always worrying about the same things!

Positive affirmations

Whenever you’re feeling low on body confidence, positive affirmations are a way to make you speak kindly to yourself. Though you may feel a bit silly, saying it out loud can help ensure the message sinks in and isn’t undermined by your critical inner voice.

Consider writing out key phrases that help you feel happier and more confident, and stick them in places where you’ll see them every day – around your bathroom mirror, in the pages of your diary, on the fridge, etc. Here are a few examples:

  • I am surrounded by love, and so is my baby
  • I am capable and strong
  • I am healthy, happy and pregnant
  • It’s ok not to love every day of my pregnancy
  • I don’t have to be perfect to be a good mum

Lifting yourself up when you’re feeling down

When you’re struggling with morning sickness, or feeling the full burden of your growing uterus, it’s ok to take some time to yourself to feel rubbish, veg on the sofa and binge watch Bridgerton.

However, if you feel like you’re sinking into the feeling, it’s time to work on finding a way out.

Our HiPP mum Laura found she really struggled with body image and weight gain during pregnancy. ‘My partner is so great and knows once I get out and move I feel better. He gently encourages me to go for walks with him and that always helps lift me up when I am feeling down.’

If the feeling persists, seek medical advice at one of your prenatal visits. They will be able to help you find the support you need to feel happier and more resilient.

And don’t forget: you are remarkable!