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****I wrote this the day before giving birth. I wasn’t planning to post but was strongly encouraged by a friend to share my feelings. Being pregnant is hard and there is no reason to make it harder on ourselves by giving into insecurities and self-doubts. ****
“I look pretty good . . . for being pregnant”
I said that to myself again this morning as I looked in the mirror. As I turned to walk away I thought back to what I had just said to myself and realized that I truly am my own worse enemy.
Why in the world am I putting myself down?
- I’m pregnant, that means that I don’t have my tiny little waist anymore.
- I’m starting to see cankles more and more frequently.
- I’m not sleeping well and am starting to hide the bags under my eyes with makeup.
- My mostly flat stomach is long gone.
- I feel huge and bulky, common movements are starting to get awkward and hard.
Yet regardless of these “issues”, I’m still the same person.
I’m still just as beautiful as I was before I got pregnant. If anything I should see myself as more beautiful.
My body is creating another life. Just that concept alone is mind boggling.
But I struggle to remember the positives when I’m looking in the mirror and all I can see is how different my body looks.
It is funny, I get compliments all the time from people tell me how great I look. My skin glows, I’m all baby, you know just the normal stuff people tell you.
I want to believe them, and I do, but deep down, I can’t help but look at the changes in my body and feel that sense of insecurity.
I never thought self-image was something that I would struggle with while pregnant.
I’m very confident in who I am. I’ve never considered myself model beautiful, but I’ve always considered myself pretty. Combined with my personality and my general attitude towards life, self-confidence hasn’t been an issue for me in years.
It is crazy to me, how quickly the confidence I have in myself can be shaken by my pregnant body.
As I’ve struggled with these feelings over the last couple of weeks I really started to get down on myself.
This morning as I looked in the mirror and thought yet again “I look pretty good . . . for being pregnant,” I made myself stop and look again.
Instead of all the pregnancy junk, I decided to look at myself like my husband and friends do.
None of them think I look bad. They see me as the same beautiful person I’ve always been.
They look at me and see the beautiful life growing inside, they look and see the happiness shining through my eyes. They look and see the constant smile on my face even through nausea and struggles with gestational diabetes.
They don’t see the flaws in how I look, they see the positives in how I look and behave.
They see the me, that for some reason I’m struggling to see.
I’ve always been on the other side. I’m the friend that reassures my pregnant friends that they still look amazing. I’m the friend that encourages them and tries to help buoy them up.
Thank goodness for friends who reach out and do the same for me now.
So to all my pregnant friends who are struggling with these same confidence issues.
You aren’t alone.
Every woman I’ve known has had similar thoughts and feelings.
We have programmed ourselves to see our flaws every time we look in the mirror. Pregnancy for some reason seems to amplify these feelings.
What should be the happiest time of our lives can turn negative very quickly if all we care about are the flaws we see in the mirror.
4 Steps to See the Real You In The Mirror Again
1. Choose to Eat Healthy
I know this is easier said than done while pregnant, but eat healthy meals. I got gestational diabetes which forced me to eat healthily. I’ve hated every minute of it, but have a feeling that I’ll look back and be thankful for being forced to choose healthy eating habits.
The goal is to set boundaries for yourself and stick to them. If you are craving chocolate, have one small piece, but not the whole container. Keep healthy food around and you’ll have a much easier time keeping to your goals.
If you are struggling to prepare healthy simple meals you may want to consider a food planning service like The $5 Dollar Meal Plan or Meal Plan Magic. Meal planning services take so much of the work out of grocery shopping and save you time in the kitchen. I hate cooking and being on my feet at the end of my pregnancy was torture. I’m all about easy solutions.
You can also opt for Meal Delivery. I haven’t used any meal delivery services myself, but have friends who swear by Blue Apron and Sunbasket (This link sends you to a page with a coupon for $35). These services actually provide all of the ingredients for your meals shipped in nice little freezer boxes.
If you are completely overwhelmed with eating healthy while pregnant this is a great option.
Some day I’m going to convince my husband I need to “review” all of these services for this blog. I hate cooking and meal planning and need all the help I can get.
Let’s just be honest, exercising while pregnant is hard – especially at the end when you can’t even get out of bed gracefully.
Exercising during pregnancy will make you feel so much better about yourself. It is more than just the whole happy endorphins thing.
When you exercise, you feel stronger, it helps tone and shapes your body, it gives you extra energy. There are so many health benefits to exercising.
Keep your exercise routine simple while you are pregnant.
I did a ton of walking, I spent time on the elliptical, and I did lots of Yoga. Doing Yoga was huge for me because it helped me stay limber and flexible.
Speak with your doctor before beginning any type of exercise program, particularly if you didn’t exercise before pregnancy.
I worked full-time until I gave birth, so my time was very limited. I was really stressed about finding a replacement HR Director for my company since I knew I would only come back on a part-time basis. I wanted to make sure that everything flowed while I was on maternity leave so that in theory I would get fewer calls.
- I exercised in the random moments between everything. I took conference calls on my cell phone and walked around the office.
- I used my medicine ball while sitting at my desk to stretch and work on my core muscles. I was creative and keep myself as active as possible.
- I set my timer while at work and would make myself get up and move every 50 minutes. I know it sounds dorky, but it kept me from molding myself to my office chair.
Finding ways to exercise doesn’t have to be a formal gym trip. There are a ton of amazing exercise videos on Youtube. I also found some great Yoga video’s on Amazon.
Focus on staying active and you’ll be significantly healthier during your pregnancy.
3. Focus on Sleep
If you’ve ever been pregnant your are laughing your head off. Sleeping while pregnant is really hard. During the last month of my pregnancy, I had to get up to use the bathroom 8 times one night.
Even without the whole bathroom thing, your body is just awkward and uncomfortable. The bed you used to love is suddenly uncomfortable and even cuddling with your husband is miserable because you get too hot.
It is hard to fall asleep while pregnant.
However, everything in your life is better when you get enough sleep. You look healthier, you feel healthier and your body can function better. You have to do your best to prioritize sleep while pregnant.
You aren’t going to get much after the baby comes, so do your best to sleep now.
Here are a couple of ideas to help you sleep while pregnant:
- Use a body pillow
- Pregnancy body pillows were life savers for me. I recommend something to support both your back and your stomach.
- Try using a sound machine
- I didn’t think to try this when I was pregnant but did use one shortly after Ella was born while she was still sleeping in our room. I was amazed at how much it helped me sleep.
- Stretch Prior to Going to Bed
- I got leg cramps a few times and stretching seemed to decrease them drastically (as did water).
- Keep water next to your bed
- I know this just makes you use the bathroom more, but I was constantly thirsty while pregnant and would wake up with dry throat all the time.
- Nausea Medicine
- I had evening nausea. Fortunately, the doctor subscribed me some medication the helped. I highly recommend talking to a doctor on this one rather than taking whatever your sister’s, best friends, aunt recommends.
- Black Out Curtains
- I’ve got friends who swear by them, but I’ve never used them.
Unfortunately it is hard to get enough sleep while pregnant, but hopefully, by prioritizing sleep you’ll have an easier time taking care of your body.
4. Take Time For Yourself (This section was added 6 months after giving birth)
This is totally my weakness, I’m always going and rarely slowed down while pregnant.
- I wish I had taken more time to just enjoy being pregnant.
- Take the time to enjoy each kick and movement.
- Keep a pregnancy journal and record the little details of how you were feeling. Write down your hopes and dreams for your baby.
Don’t get so focused on what happens when the baby comes that you loose track of the amazing experience you are having. Your body is creating another human being – talk about an amazing experience.
Take a little bit of time for self-care during your pregnancy. Don’t be afraid to take an afternoon off and relax. I know this is hard if you are working or have other kids, but do your best to find a bit of time for yourself.
If you are a new mom, I recommend doing some light reading. Some of my favorite books were:
- What to Expect When You’re Expecting by Heidi Murkoff & Sharon Mazel
- Pregnancy, Childbirth & the Newborn: The Complete Guide by Simkin, Whalley & Keppler
- The Baby Sleep Solution: A Proven Program to Teach Your Baby to Sleep 12 Hours a Night by Suzy Giordano and Lisa Abidin
- Editors note – I added this one later – I wish I had read it while pregnant. You can read more about my experience with sleep training in this post.
If reading isn’t your thing, take the afternoon off for a pedicure. I was concerned about the fumes in a traditional studio so I did my pedicures myself. The last couple of weeks were really awkward, but I managed (thank goodness for yoga). I personally love the Gel Nail polishes that don’t need the UV lights.
One thing I did do was purchase a few pregnancy outfits that were comfortable and stylish. I’m not much of a shopper and borrowed most of my pregnancy clothing (which rocks).
The few outfits I bought were ones I really loved. I lived in simple dresses like this one and basic shirts like this one. Both outfits could easily be dressed up with a simple cardigan. My goal was classy, but comfortable.
I’m fairly casual about my make-up and hair, but found that while pregnant, I needed that little boost of confidence that wearing make-up gave me. I was pepetually short on time, but took the time to use my Savvy Curls Hair Wrap to give my hair a bit of flair.
I noticed on the days I took an extra 5-10 minutes on my appearance, I always felt better when I walked away from the mirror.
Being healthy and taking time for myself during my pregnancy made it easier to see the real me in the mirror
I know that making healthy decisions while pregnant is 10 times harder than normal. I made plenty of poor eating and exercise decisions while I was pregnant, so I know how easy it is to slip up. However, I’ve found that when I’m making healthy choices and taking care of my body, I don’t get down on myself.
I have an easier time seeing the real me that my friends see. I don’t dwell on the negatives I see in the mirror. They are still there, but when I’m happy and healthy, I don’t care about them anymore.
Stop stressing about how you look in the mirror and focus on the joy and happiness you are feeling as you prepared for your new baby. I can guarantee your baby won’t care how you look. She’ll just be happy to meet you.
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