Learning to Accept and Respect Your Pregnancy Body

Pregnant mom sitting on bed holding belly learning to accept and respect her pregnancy body

Pregnancy is beautiful, but can be a challenging time. Your body undergoes many changes to your hormones, immune system and your metabolism (1). Some of these changes are visible, for example, weight gain and stretch marks. While other changes are not visible, such as increased blood plasma volume. These changes are important for your growing baby (2), but may come with mixed emotions and body dissatisfaction. Learning to accept and respect your pregnancy body can be beneficial for a healthy pregnancy experience.  

Strategies for Accepting Your Body During Pregnancy

The way you view and think about your body can be strongly influenced by society. This influence often continues through pregnancy and into the postpartum period, leading to mental distress. As well, research suggests many women experience unrealistic expectations for their postpartum body (3). You likely understand nature is behind these changes, but may still feel the need to control your body’s weight and behaviour during and after pregnancy (3). It’s common to stress over weight gain or worry that your body won’t return to its pre-pregnancy status. Some women even feel a loss of identity during pregnancy and postpartum.

It’s important to remember that your body goes through many changes during pregnancy. Despite what society may tell you, your body does not need to “go back to the way it was” before pregnancy. This body acceptance can take work!


Strategies for Accepting Your Body During Pregnancy

We’ve compiled a list of strategies to help you address some of the challenges that come with the changes experienced during pregnancy and accept and respect your pregnancy body.

    • Recognize from the beginning that your body is going to change. These changes are normal. Expecting change from the beginning may help reduce fear and negative thoughts later in your pregnancy.
    • Work on creating a positive mindset about these changes. Knowing your body is shifting to support new life (which is pretty amazing) might help you accept these changes and overcome related fears. 
    • It’s also important to realize that having a baby is a change, and that your body may not return to “pre-pregnancy status”. Recognize and know that this is OKAY — unfortunately, society can make us feel that it’s not.
    • Try to avoid a limiting mindset, especially related to weight and food. Instead, focus on providing your body with nourishment to support these changes. This is an opportunity to focus on Building a Healthy Relationship with Food and making positive behaviour changes.   
    • Focus on health and well-being rather than weight. Physical activity and movement are important during pregnancy. This does not mean you have to run a mile or lift weights. Find ways to move your body that also brings you joy or mental peace. Maybe this is going for a stroll in nature or attending a yoga class — find what works best for you.  
    • Have reasonable and realistic expectations for pregnancy and postpartum. Your body will change slowly throughout your pregnancy. Likewise, it will take time for your body to return and heal. Consider Nutrition for Postpartum Healing to help the process.  
    • Avoid comparison. Everyone’s body is different, and so are the changes that occur during pregnancy. It can be helpful to hear others’ stories and experiences, but keep in mind that your pregnancy journey will be unique. 
    • Always know you are not alone and support is available. Working with a Registered Dietitian or therapist can help you navigate your pregnancy journey.   


Final Notes from The Nest

Remember, the changes your body is experiencing are normal! They are needed for your baby’s development and are part of pregnancy. While not without challenges, and sometimes aches and pains, these  changes allow your baby to grow and develop throughout pregnancy.


~ Article written by Natalie Johnston

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  1. Motosko CC, Bieber AK, Pomeranz MK, Stein JA, Martires KJ. Physiologic changes of pregnancy: A review of the literature. Int J Womens Dermatol. 2017;3(4):219-224. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijwd.2017.09.003.
  2. Soma-Pillay P, Nelson-Piercy C, Tolppanen H, Mebazaa A. Physiological changes in pregnancy. Cardiovasc J Afr. 2016;27(2):89-94. https://doi.org/10.5830/CVJA-2016-021.
  3. Hodgkinson EL, Smith DM, Wittkowski A. Women’s experiences of their pregnancy and postpartum body image: A systematic review and meta-synthesis. BMC Pregnancy Childbirth. 2014;14(1):330-330. https://doi.org/10.1186/1471-2393-14-330.