I Struggled With Body Confidence… Until I Got Pregnant

Ever since I was a teenager, I’ve had serious body image issues. It wasn’t until I found true happiness in work and love that I realized there’s more to me than weight. While I was afraid my insecurity might return after learning I was pregnant, that wasn’t the case at all. Here’s what I learned about my body during pregnancy.

  1. I felt better about making healthier choices. When you’re pregnant, what you eat and drink directly affects someone else so it’s a lot easier to choose that green salad over McDonald’s. Of course, pregnancy cravings are real and I made sure those needs were met, but on a standard day, it was so beneficial to think about how those positive choices would benefit my child’s development.
  2. I began viewing food in a brand new way. Instead of seeing it as spinach, I viewed it as a good source of iron. There’s so much more to nutrition facts than calories and fat. By learning about which vitamins were in the things I ate every day, I gave myself an unexpected education. Food is supposed to fuel you, not make you feel miserable.
  3. I appreciated my body for what it could do. There’s something so amazing about realizing your body is literally creating human life. When you’re pregnant, you stop thinking about how your stomach looks and focus more on what your body does. When the baby is born, it’s even more of a miracle. While it’s been a while since I was in active labor, I still have that feeling of awe when I realize my body created such a curious, fun little being.
  4. I saw my body more as a machine. Now, admittingly, this one has its pros and cons. It’s especially disheartening to view your body this way if you choose to pump milk, but your body does way more than create babies. When you think about it, your body is just the most magnificent tool you have as a human being. It keeps you active and running, and food serves as its fuel.
  5. Maternity clothes were incredibly flattering. Honestly, I’d still be wearing maternity clothes if I felt like I could pull it off. Maternity clothes are both flattering and comfortable—and when you look good, you feel good. In fact, I might have been at my most fashionable during my third trimester.
  6. I knew nobody would tell me I “look fat.” Let me clarify something: nobody has ever openly told me that I look fat. But when I feel fat, I just assume that that’s what everyone around me is thinking. We’ve all had days where our self-confidence nearly made us fearful of leaving the house. Now, after pregnancy, I’m a little easier on myself even though the stretch marks and loose skin are still there. Instead of freaking out about looking frumpy, I look back and realize I need to give my body a lot more credit than that. Even if I’m a few pounds up, my body is simply amazing and will always be amazing.
  7. My hair looked fantastic. Now, postpartum hair isn’t all that great, but people don’t lie when they use the phrase “pregnancy glow.” I felt radiant, my hair felt nice and thick, and my smiles in selfies were actually genuine. Hair changes up a lot for every person—for example, some women notice their hair getting a little greasier during pregnancy—so this was somewhat of an individual perk.
  8. During pregnancy, you stop being so self-conscious. If you want to have a baby, you have to be prepared to be a little exposed. Doctors you don’t know all too well will do cervical checks near the end, and you already know how babies are born. Once strangers have seen it all, you’re a little less self-conscious about hiding yourself. A body is simply a body—everyone has one and they all look different.
  9. The bigger the belly, the more to celebrate. Big pregnancy bellies at the end of the second and all of the third trimester just mean that your baby is thriving. And trust me, people want to see that bump. In fact, the bigger the bump, the more excited your friends and family get. Big is beautiful.
  10. I learned the importance of taking care of my body. As mentioned before, my body is a machine and it’s up to me to take care of it properly. We might not think about how walking around the block is a task for our bodies but it is. With pregnancy, your task is a bit more obvious. You have continuous checkups, there are certain things you need to avoid, and inactivity will really make those aches and pains much worse so you have to keep moving. My pregnancy was when I was the absolute healthiest, despite those scale numbers.
Karen Belz is a New Jersey native who is currently living in Maryland. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Speech Communication with a focus in Broadcasting and Print Media Studies from Millersville University of Pennsylvania. Since graduating, she has written for sites like LittleThings, HelloGiggles, and Scary Mommy and is currently an e-commerce editor at Bustle.

When she's not writing, she enjoys making her phone run out of memory after taking too many photos of her dog. You can find her on Twitter @karenebelz or on Instagram @karenbelz.