Pregnancy is one of the strangest experiences I’ve ever had. Not only are you growing a human, but your body also automatically becomes public property. People feel instantly comfortable looking you up and down, touching your stomach, and commenting unabashedly about your size/shape/overall appearance.
I have never felt more “on display” physically in my entire life, and I know this is an experience shared by many pregnant women. Add in the parade of celebrity post-baby-body stories, unsolicited opinions about the choices you should be making, and opinions on how you should care for your unborn child—and it’s enough to make anyone feel a little crazy in their own skin.
If this sounds familiar, and you’re stressing about your own pregnant body and all of its changes, here are five tips to help you chill out:
1. Give yourself some credit.
You’re growing a baby! How wildly amazing is that? Maybe you feel like a glowing goddess, and maybe you feel like an exhausted hobbit. Either way (or somewhere in between) you are making a human, mama. You deserve to be celebrated.
Remember the incredible work your body is doing right now and do something kind for yourself. Acknowledge this season in your life and make it a point to celebrate you.
2. Stop the comparison.
It’s so easy to compare your body to other women’s—pregnant or not. This doesn’t do you any favors. Rather than scrolling through Instagram feeling insecure because you won’t be rocking a six-pack on the beach this summer or because your skin isn’t as bright or your belly as perfectly round as the other mamas-to-be in your feed, just be you.
The truth is, this is one specific season in your life, and pregnancy looks and feels different for every woman.
3. Focus on the joys of the present.
I think one of the most harmful phrases out there right now is “get your pre-baby body back.” From the second the scale starts moving up or your belly starts to expand, there is a common pregnancy fear of “will I ever get back to my pre-baby body?” This line of thinking keeps us stuck in the past.
We are human beings, and as far as I know, we haven’t come up with the technology to travel back in time. Rather than obsessing about getting our pre-baby bodies back, we can focus on taking incredible care of our with-baby and post-baby bodies. A gentle understanding that all bodies are constantly changing and evolving without any ability to move backward (not just pregnant ones!) can help you to open your mind to falling in love with your post-baby body.
Practice releasing the fear that a body that has carried a baby will be “worse” than one that hasn’t, be in awe of all your body is doing, and remember that you’re truly incredible.
4. Practice self-care.
You are worthy of being cared for, and pregnancy is an essential time for inner and outer self-care. What your pregnant body needs may be different from what you’re used to, so take some time to check in with yourself and discover what would feel kind and nourishing. Prioritize foods that help you feel balanced, activities that help you to relax, movement that lets you feel empowered, and people who love on you the way you deserve.
Ask for help when you need it, say “no” when it feels right, and make sure to get what you deeply need. Pregnancy requires a lot of energy, and that means you need support more than ever.
5. Speak to yourself with love.
When someone on the train asks you if you’re having twins (you’re not), the number on the scale at the doctor’s office freaks you out, your boss tells you he thinks you’re about to pop, or your boobs grow out of yet another bra, take a moment to say something kind to yourself.
Pregnancy is too often accompanied by insensitive and misplaced remarks, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t speak to yourself with love. You are worthy of love and are loved just for being you. Remind yourself of this as often as you need to!