Loving your healthy pregnant body
If you’re pregnant or planning to become pregnant and you’re already looking for a book about how to get your pre-baby body back, “Does This Pregnancy Make Me Look Fat? The Essential Guide to Loving Your Body Before and After Baby” (HCI, 2009) is not for you.
Or maybe it is – just not in the way you were expecting.
This friendly but honest book contains no diet tips or exercise routines to get you “back” to where you were before. Instead, authors and beauty activists Claire Mysko (a body image expert and mom) and Magali Amadeï (an acclaimed fashion model and mom) want new mothers to set their sights on the future by striving for the same healthy body image that they would hope to invest within their children.
Here Mysako weighs in on how to feel your best about your body, yourself and your role as a mom:
What can a woman do to increase the probability that she will have a healthy body and body image while pregnant?
We really advise women to get away from the weight-loss mentality before they get pregnant. What happens often when women are chronic dieters is that when they do get pregnant and are off their diet plan, they don’t actually know how to nourish themselves. This is a really unhealthy place to be during pregnancy and when you’re a new mom. We encourage women to think about what health means beyond the scale, and what attitudes they want to pass along to their children about food and exercise. Do you want to teach your children that exercise is about burning calories so that they can mold their bodies into a specific size? Or do you want them to enjoy the movement and activity? Follow your own lessons.
Many moms-to-be get anxious about increasing clothing sizes and escalating numbers on the scale – what advice do you have for them?
Try to shift the focus away from the scale and appearance, and instead appreciate your body for what it’s doing. If you know those numbers could trigger negative thoughts for you, don’t have them in your face all the time. Both Magali and I decided to take the scale out of the equation entirely. There’s really no reason that I need to track my own weight gain and loss, so I told my OB that I didn’t care to know the number unless there was a health issue we needed to discuss. You can also make clothing sizes less of an issue by packing up the smaller ones, like those skinny jeans, before you have to think about it.
What would you say to pregnant women who have concerns about their changing bodies, but think that voicing their fears makes them look “bad”?
Stop being so hard on yourself. Some women love every minute of pregnancy, some hate it from start to finish, and then there’s those in the middle who sometimes feel beautiful and sometimes don’t. Yes, the goal is having a healthy body image, but we don’t want women to think that they will screw everything up if they don’t feel wonderful about themselves every day. Nobody’s perfect. The most important thing is that you’re actively working to confront your issues. It may be comforting to talk about your concerns with other women who can offer realistic perspectives.
However, avoid getting caught up in a negative, unproductive feedback loop where you’re simply comparing how much you, say, hate your saggy stomach or your huge thighs. That surface-level anxiety is often linked to deeper insecurities like loss of control, perfectionism and issues from our own childhood, and that’s what we really need to be dealing with.
How can women with expanding bellies respond to insensitive comments from strangers, friends, partners, etc.?
You don’t have much control over what other people will do or say, but you can be somewhat prepared by setting clear boundaries and committing to not getting into conversations that will be hard for you. If someone asks how much you weigh, you can say “I’m not comfortable talking about that” or “I have no idea,” and then start talking about something else, like how excited you are about the baby.
What are some tips for feeling beautiful as the belly grows?
Our book has a whole chapter on style and beauty, including shopping tips, for both pregnant women and new moms. [For example, get unique, affordable pieces you can alter at vintage stores or online at Rustyzipper.com and Mamastonevintage.com.] You’ll likely have less clothing options to work with due to your shifting shape, but you can change up your outfits with fun accessories like jewelry, scarves, shoes, bags and belts. Many women we spoke with also said that getting a new haircut or French tips helped boost their body confidence.
Any last words for the woman who might have thought she wanted a guide to getting her pre-baby body back?
Childbirth itself is the biggest workout of your life. Appreciate what you’ve accomplished – your baby came from this body.