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How Women Honestly Feel About Their Pregnant Bodies

How Women Honestly Feel About Their Pregnant Bodies

If there is one thing that two pregnancies have really taught me, it's that I was more vain to begin with than I ever would have given myself credit for. But let's face it: I, like any other woman, could have stared in the mirror at my pre-pregnancy body and listed off five things that I hated about it; when in reality, I loved my '40s-hourglass figure and the assurance of knowing I could slide into a slinky black dress and rock it. 

And since having one child (and hopefully popping out this second in a few weeks), I have encountered incredible struggles with my post-pregnancy body image. I've had to adjust my definitions of beauty and femininity. I've had to learn to accept changes that are likely permanent. More than anything, I've had to battle my own mind — my preconceived notions of what I thought pregnancy would do to a body like mine, my thoughts on weight loss and exercise after baby, and my tendency to compare myself to other women of all shapes and sizes.

But I think that's typical, right? It's a pretty normal thing to, as a woman, struggle with your shape, the way your clothes fit, and the way your legs or boobs measure up to Jennifer Aniston's. 

What I Wasn't Prepared For

Here's what I wasn't prepared for: Hating my body while pregnant. Oh, but I did! From the first trimester bloating, to the impossibly large third trimester belly (and even the cute phase in between), I struggled with my temporary body, refusing to focus on the wonder of what my body was doing, and simply lamenting what I didn't have and couldn't do. 

It was a bigger war in my first pregnancy — I wasn't wise or prepared for growing a baby, and I unnecessarily gained 60 pounds, thanks to emotional eating and lack of exercise. And thanks to my rather womanly body type, I gained weight everywhere. Some of us are not destined to maintain our size everywhere and just add on a cute basketball belly! But as I wrap up this second pregnancy, one during which I've maintained a healthier weight, exercised, and all-in-all been more psychologically stable (ha!), I still have had to work through my pregnant body image. 

 

What Other Women Told Me

Here's something interesting: I thought for sure that if I interviewed other women, I'd find someone else who had this same battle. I thought, "Surely other women hate their bodies when they are pregnant." But that wasn't really the case. I spoke to no less than twenty women, all who have had one or more children, and despite their issues with body image prior to pregnancy, they loved their bodies while pregnant. 

"I haven't had any negative feelings"

For some, it was as if they saw their bodies through the miraculous wonderment of what was occurring. One woman told me, "I can honestly say I haven't had any negative feelings about this body changing. I've read up on what should be happening when so I haven't been surprised and I am so very conscious of the adorable reason why it's all happening. I figure, if I'm willing to give my life for this kid, I'd better be willing to give my body too." For her, being so emotionally connected during pregnancy, as well as really educated, seemed to lay to rest any negative feelings toward bodily changes. 

"I was more relieved when I started showing"

Other women were uncertain, but finally looking pregnant kicked any negative thoughts in the butt. "I think I was more relieved when I started showing because then it seemed more real that there was a human inside of me. In the beginning it's hard because you can't feel the baby move and sometimes I would doubt. When I started getting a belly I felt relieved!" 

"My husband is very supportive"

I did speak with some women who battled negative opinion, but a solid support system — especially when that included their husband — was all they needed to feel beautiful. "I feel disappointed in myself every time I have a negative thought about what is happening to my body. I always pictured myself just being thrilled with pregnancy and not caring what my body has to do to support a baby. The reality has been filled with occasional misgivings and doubt that my body will ever be how it was again. But my husband is very supportive and complimentary and that helps, and usually the times of feeling unsure about my body are brief. Overall I think the changes are beautiful."

"There's a 'honeymoon' phase"

Some even told me that being pregnant made them feel sexy! "There's a 'honeymoon' phase in pregnancy, usually in the 2nd trimester, where you've got a nice bump that's just big enough to tell the world you're pregnant but not so big you can't climb on top (if you know what I mean) and the lovely pregnant boobs. During those 3 months I felt super sexy! My husband is always very complimentary of me — as any good husband should be — so I think its probably a combination of feeling good about myself and the added hormones because there's nothing in this world like a pregnancy O!"

 

What I Did to Feel Better 

Whether or not you're one of those women who experiences a sky-rocketing sex drive in pregnancy (p.s., I'm not), or if you fall into any or none of the other categories I mentioned, I think there certainly are ways to fall in love with your pregnant body. For some women, this will come naturally, as evidenced by all the interviews I conducted! But since it didn't for me, here are some things that I have focused on while pregnant to encourage my own positive body image.

Enjoying "new" slenderness

I try to focus on the parts of my body that actually look smaller in pregnancy. With a protruding stomach — especially toward the end — my legs, arms, and even the curves of my back, do start to appear more slender by comparison. Being pregnant is the best I've ever looked wearing skinny jeans! 

Taking advantage of healthy hair and nails

My hair and nails are amazing when I'm pregnant. I chalk this up to hormones and prenatal vitamins, and this time around, I've done my best to maximize those features. During my first pregnancy, I chopped my hair in an attempt to feel fresh and good about myself. Why oh why?! This time I've let my hair go long and straight, and you wouldn't believe the compliments I've gotten. 

Working the "pregnant glow"

I work the skin factor. People are going to tell you that you have a "pregnant glow," and they're really going to see it whether you think it's there or not. I figure if I'm already glowing, I better make sure I'm glowing as brightly as possible. Since I was pregnant in the summer this time, I busted out the bare arms when other times I've been too self-conscious to do so. 

What's worked for you? Are you like the women above who have, in some way, loved your body during pregnancy? Or are you more like me, battling even more with yourself for those nine long months, trying to convince yourself that you still feel pretty?

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, POPSUGAR.

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Join The Conversation
AmberPiirainen AmberPiirainen 3 years
I felt like my body and mind was completely out of my hands. Every Dr. visit noted I was gaining too much weight. Every one! Cravings of comfort foods from my childhood consumed my appetite. I was 105lbs and steadily progressed to my heaviest weight at 175 lbs, at 34 weeks pregnant, on my petit 5'0" figure. My daughter weighed 7lbs 8oz. The cravings went away. So did the weight. Not all of it. I'm a healthy 120lbs now but I fit into all my old jeans & high school clothes. And NOT a single stretch mark!!! I embraced my feelings and pregoness and just let what was happening, happen. I disregarded image insecurities. I was going to grow inevitably, so I may as well enjoy the parts of pregnancy I could. Like eating. A lot. And whatever my body, insisted on! I feel like, because I didn't try to stall my inevitable weight gain, the steady packing on of every pound spared me from stretch marks. I wasn't always happy in my pregnancy. In fact, the surprise of my lfe was dreadful, mostly. I was fat, unmarried, judged, insecure about motherhood and unprepared! I was disappointed in myself for putting myself in that position. But all the endulgence of childhood meals, fast foods (also childhood foods), Popsicles, sushi and chocolate were good. I listened to my body, no matter how irrational (and greedy) it sometimes was and didn't stress about what other people were telling me about my body. Our bodies are made to have babies. It's just that simple. There are a few ways to be pregnant the wrong way but there are infinite ways to be pregnant the right way!
NatalieBrowne99647 NatalieBrowne99647 3 years
I loved my pregnant body 3 times, hated being uncomfortable from about 35 weeks... worst part is post labour where you feel like a deflated balloon... I can deal with the few stretch marks but loose skin once losing fat is a problem - you tend to lose a bit of confidence... but I am determined to loose all fat to see just how much loose skin there is and once baby making is through I will be seeing to having it removed..
aniaschietzelt aniaschietzelt 3 years
I was ok with my pregnant body both times. The worst part is loose skin afterwards...I'm petite (5' 3'' and 110 lbs) and I had two big babies 8lbs and 9 lbs. I don't have issues with loosing 40 lbs afterwards, it goes fast for me, but loose skin and loose abs...I have huge issues with that...
AnielleGleason AnielleGleason 3 years
I love what you wrote! Like you, I'm addicted to sugary coffee drinks and I take way too many pictures! My brothers are always picking on me about it! When I was in high school, I really battled weight. I'm only 5 foot and by my junior year I weighed 150lbs. After graduating, I lost most of the weight. For several years I weighed between 100-105lbs. When I became pregnant with my son, I weighed 103lbs. The doctor wanted me to gain between 35-40lbs because I was considered underweight. So, I took that to a whole new level! I gained 57lbs!!! I was huge everywhere. From about 5 months on, all I wanted to do was have my son and get my body back. I had lost my sex drive completely, because I felt so huge and I weighed more then my husband did! Even my maternity clothes started to not fit me anymore. I had always thought that I would love being pregnant. I was in for a shock! I really don't miss being pregnant at all, except for feeling the baby move and kick. I was lucky in losing the weight though. Right after I had him I lost 20lbs. I ended up losing all the weight about 6 months after I had him. My son is now 2 1/2 years old and he is a big boy! I really feel like it was him that made me get so big! :) My body isn't quite the same as before, but I do appreciate my body now! :) Well, mostly! LOL
TiffanyArment TiffanyArment 3 years
I have 5 children and in my first three pregnancies I loved everything about being pregnant, but by the forth and fifth pregnancies I just wanted them to be over! I thought the more pregnancies you had the shorter they were but my youngest was 3 days late. I had gained more weight than the first three and hated my thighs, arms, and boobs! I couldn't wait for them pregnancies to be over. Even after I had them both people told me weeks after pregnancy was over "you don't even look like you had a baby", but i seen it the stretch marks the belly blubber, the far on my arms and thighs! I wanted lipo or a magic pill to help because exercise wasn't working. I understand your feelings. My husband today and our youngest is 19 months old that he loves my body, but I don't I hate it, and all that pregnancy has done, but I love my kids! They are the best thing ever!
JessicaWamback JessicaWamback 3 years
While reading this it honestly felt like you were telling my story word for word! During this second pregnancy I do feel a little better, but I hate what it does to my body, although I'm looking forward to baby number two in the next few weeks. I'm thinking maybe I'm just not cut out to be pregnant, and we've decided we'll be a family of four :)
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