Nibbles for Thought: Pregnancy Body Image Struggles

I have been wanting to write something about this for quite sometime now. The rise of the pregnancy “six-pack” has been a phenomenon I noticed circulating over social media, and frankly, it pisses me off. Women have enough on their plate when it comes to body image concerns and setting unrealistic ideals of what they should look like, and now, comes the new “ideal” of the mum-to-be…Slide1

This actually got me thinking of what my own experience will be when we decide to start a family and honestly speaking, the endless bombardment of so-called “pregnancy-perfect” can really get to you! Weight gain is a natural part of pregnancy yet, many women struggle with the thought of the numbers creeping up. A huge part of this fear is due to the years of size discrimination women have faced over time. Women fear that they may never get back to their post-pregnancy weight, especially if they’ve gone through weight struggles in the past. 

The average weight gain throughout a healthy pregnancy is around 10-15kg, but every woman is different. As a dietitian, I have worked with many pregnant women either trying to monitor their weight gain and eating habits for general health or for other serious conditions that may come with pregnancy. In more complicated situations, working with women who have a pre-pregnancy BMI of over 29-30 will require stricter control. 

Firstly, it is important that women accept that their bodies will change as part of the journey. Shifting their focus from weight and numbers to being fit and healthy throughout pregnancy and after is something that I’ve worked on with my clients during the early stages. It is something that does require practice, mentally and emotionally. Post-pregnancy goals never come with the aim of getting back to their pre-pregnancy weight but working on how to become the better, fitter and healthier version of who they were.

5 Pregnancy essentials to work on:

  • Never compare yourself to any other pregnant woman, friend, celebrity or “Instagram” personality
  • Focus on quality rather than quantity when it comes to your diet as your energy requirements increase by about 300kcal only towards the 2nd and 3rd trimester. Yet again, every woman is different. 
  • Make sure you are aware of the essential nutrients: folate, calcium, protein and iron. 
  • Focus on balanced eating and expose your body and your baby to a variety of foods within portions that work for you. 
  • Keep your workouts regular but make sure you exercise S.A.F.E.L.Y 

Practising “self-acceptance” and “self-love” pre, during and post pregnancy is something that we should all try no matter where we are in life. A woman’s body goes through unbelievable changes to produce human life and this is a privilege, something that we all need to keep in the back of our minds. 

  1. I am 39 weeks pregnant with my first child. I’m amazed at how my body has grown and changed! I love how my body knows what to do to take care of my baby, and I appreciate every pound I’ve gained towards that effort 🙂

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