I am nearing my third trimester during my first pregnancy and phew—what a journey it has been already! I have experienced feelings of excitement, anxiety and everything in between over the past 26 weeks.
As an eating disorder specialist, I spend a majority of my days counseling individuals with disordered eating and body image issues, while empowering them to make peace with food and their bodies through acceptance and appreciation. I never would have thought that I would have to work extra hard to apply that same knowledge I give to others to myself during this season of change during pregnancy.
In our society, we are bombarded with messages overly focused on bodies and appearance. The media portrays unrealistic representations during pregnancy and postpartum of women’s bodies “bouncing back” immediately after giving birth, rather than focusing on the actual miracle of giving birth and realities of parenting. Even healthcare professionals like myself are not immune to cultural pressures to have the perfect body, be the perfect mom or have it all together all the time!
When I started to struggle with adapting to my changing body, I started to become curious what was going on underneath. For me, it was not only the fact that every part of my body was changing, but I felt as if my entire identity was shifting into becoming a mother. Initially, I felt a sense of loss, rather than gain. It was confusing to me feeling both so much joy and excitement and yet feeling overwhelmed and anxious at the same time. It is a good reminder that we as humans are supposed to feel a range of all emotions.
As I navigate and continue to navigate the journey of pregnancy and motherhood, I started to apply similar tips I would typically offer my clients to myself. Whether you are a first-time mom like me, or a mother of 4, consider the following tips to practice during pregnancy/postpartum body image challenges and beyond:
What would it be like to show appreciation toward your body for what it is doing during pregnancy rather than focusing on how your body looks? What does caring for yourself and body through attunement to what it needs look like for you? What if we practiced more authenticity throughout the journey of pregnancy, postpartum and motherhood to allow for more relatability, connection, and support through struggles?
Sara is a Registered Dietitian with Lutz, Alexander & Associates Nutrition Therapy and provides nutrition therapy to children, adolescents and adults. Sara’s goal is to help her clients develop a positive relationship with food, movement, and their bodies. Sara believes in the importance of building trust and rapport with her clients, and provides a compassionate, individualized approach. She is a Certified Eating Disorder Registered Dietitian (CEDRD) through the International Association of Eating Disorder Professionals. Sara also works with families of loved ones with pediatric feeding concerns and disordered eating. Sara sees clients in Lutz and Alexander’s Raleigh and Chapel Hill locations. Sara enjoys yoga, training for a half-marathon, writing, and spending time with her husband and golden retriever, Max!
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