Weight gain in pregnancy is a good thing.
Somewhere between 25 and 40 pounds is what’s recommended by the CDC, depending on your pre-pregnancy weight and whether you’re having twins (or more!).
And weight gain is just one of the many changes your body goes through during pregnancy.
And, of course, there’s pregnancy acne and stretch marks to add to the equation ‒ all of which can make you feel like your body is under serious renovation.
So with all that going on, body positivity during pregnancy can feel like a big ask. You may find yourself asking, “Whose body even is this that I’m supposed to be so positive about?”
The short answer is: it’s yours.
And it’s doing an incredible job.
And it’s gorgeous ‒ even though it may not feel that way every second of the day.
We’re going to take you through what body positivity in pregnancy is, including its shortcomings, and discuss strategies to help you feel your best.
In this article: 📝
- What is body positivity?
- What is body positivity during pregnancy?
- How much weight should you gain each trimester?
- How can I get a positive body image during pregnancy?
- How do you deal with body dysmorphia during pregnancy?
What is body positivity?
Body positivity is a movement that says we all deserve to feel good in our bodies, no matter what our size, shape, or skin tone.
It challenges beauty standards that preach often-damaging messages that we’re only beautiful if we look a certain way ‒ and all too often, that “certain way” simply means thinner.
If we view our bodies as powerful, unique, and simply ours, we can get away from a lot of the damaging self-criticism that so many of us are at the mercy of.
Working towards the ideals of the body-positive movement has proven to have all sorts of useful effects.
This research from Stanford University found that those who went through a college leadership program on body positivity came out the other end truly reaping rewards ‒ 76% of participants said that the group helped them deal with an issue related to body image, eating, or exercise.
Unfortunately, the movement itself is not perfect.
Its critics say that it doesn’t address the issue that people are still too valued on their appearance, regardless of what that appearance might be.
They also argue that it’s not always as inclusive as it should be, which leaves some body types out in the cold.
It may also put too much emphasis on individual responsibility.
And doing this work alone is tricky in a sea of social media feeds, billboards, and opinionated advice from family members that often give the exact opposite message.
So you can choose.
Use the term “body positive” if it works for you.
Or, if you prefer, simply think of cultivating a healthy relationship with your body, both during pregnancy and beyond.
What is body positivity during pregnancy?
For some people, pregnancy can bring on new body image issues.
For others, it can make existing body image issues worse.
For many pregnant people, extra weight can be a challenge to their body image.
And this presents a puzzle.
Healthy weight gain is necessary and means that things are going well with your pregnancy.
But because much of the cultural messaging we get is that “thinner is better,” this weight gain doesn’t always feel good.
We’ll take you through the details of pregnancy weight gain and then talk about how to foster a positive relationship with your body as you go through this exciting chapter.
How much weight should you gain each trimester?
Every pregnant person gains weight in different ways.
Here are the general recommendations put out by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG).
Part of being body positive during pregnancy is realizing that these are only rough guidelines!
Hopefully, these recommendations put you at ease knowing that it’s a good thing to gain weight during pregnancy and be eating more than normal.
In the first trimester, you may not gain much weight at all. You might only gain between one and five pounds.
(It may feel as though you’ve gained more ‒ but that may just be the awesome wonder that is pregnancy bloating.)
For all this to happen, it’s recommended that you eat about 350 extra calories a day in the second trimester and 450 calories in the third.
There are reasons why you may not gain enough weight while pregnant, or even lose weight.
Pregnancy nausea and vomiting, food aversions, and infections and illness can all make it difficult to get the nourishment you need.
Whatever the cause, it’s important to check in with a healthcare practitioner if this is where you’re at as this can put you at a higher risk of complications.
Head here for the potential symptoms of not eating enough during pregnancy.
Gaining much more weight than the guidelines recommend can also put you at a greater risk of things like delivery complications and health issues for your baby.
Giving your little one a healthy start is all about hitting the sweet spot.
A balanced diet, the right amount of exercise (more on this below), and a healthy dose of self-love are the way to go.
How can I get a positive body image during pregnancy?
Here are our top tips.
1. Remind yourself of the incredible things your body is doing.
We’re not saying this is always easy, but focusing on the strength and intelligence of your body rather than what feels uncomfortable about it can really help.
You’re helping a new person grow and develop.
That’s no small feat.
When making food choices, think about how they’ll help your body during this journey, not how they’ll make you look.
2. Learn about pregnancy.
Preparing yourself for the changes that happen during pregnancy can help you feel less at odds with yourself when they happen.
From weight gain to stretch marks to hemorrhoids during pregnancy ‒ sorry, they’re a thing too ‒ the more information you have about what to expect, the more ready you’ll be to deal with what comes up.
One thing you might be confused about is your belly.
When will you start showing?
How big is your belly “supposed” to be?
This confusion isn’t helped by all the relatives (and even strangers!) who might be commenting on your belly at this time.
Like everything pregnancy-related, we’re all different!
It’s important to note that this is different for everyone, and it’s totally possible that you may show earlier or later than this.
(Psst. We’ve got a whole week-by-week blog post about that exact thing right here.)
3. Share your experience.
Research shows that having social support can really increase our levels of satisfaction with our bodies.
Basically, if we feel accepted for our bodies and not stigmatized for the changes that are happening, it’s so much easier to feel good about ourselves.
We’re firm believers in going on this road together and supporting each other in our bumps along the way.
4. Move your body.
Exercise during pregnancy is good for all aspects of your health ‒ mental and physical.
It’s always a good idea to check in with your doctor first, particularly if you’re trying something new or they are monitoring you for specific risks or health problems.
But in most cases, physical activity is highly recommended in pregnancy to keep your body strong, maintain a healthy weight, and elevate your mood.
The general guidelines from the CDC are to get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity per week.
Brisk walking, swimming, or riding a stationary bike are all great options.
Doing simple stretches throughout the day can help you feel more mobile as your pregnancy progresses.
Or why not try a prenatal yoga class?
5. Look after your mental health.
Your physical health is, of course, very important right now.
But so is your mental health.
If you are struggling with your mental health for the first time or you have a preexisting condition, it’s vital to talk to your healthcare provider.
Taking care of your mental health is a crucial part of a safe, healthy pregnancy.
We’ll give you our top tips on how to take care of yourself during pregnancy here.
And if you need a pick-me-up, head here for inspirational pregnancy quotes.
How do you deal with body dysmorphia during pregnancy?
Body dysmorphia is a mental health condition where you spend a lot of time and attention concerned about flaws in the appearance of your body.
If you’re experiencing body dysmorphia during pregnancy, it can feel debilitating and possibly get in the way of making healthy lifestyle choices for you and your baby.
The best thing to do?
It may be beneficial to speak with a trained professional, and in some cases, medication can help.
And if that feels too much, reach out to friends, family, or your Peanut community.
If you need to hear this right now, your body is perfect and it’s doing an amazing job! ❤️