Subscribe to body image email updates.
Pregnancy and body image
- How pregnancy can affect body image
- My pre-baby body is gone ... for good!
- Pregnancy and eating disorders
- More information on pregnancy and body image
For some women, body image is a huge concern, especially during pregnancy.
Some women welcome their pregnant bodies, while others are in complete shock over the different changes. Naturally, your body is going to be different than it was before you were pregnant. Hormone fluctuations will cause your uterus to expand, your breasts to grow, your feet to enlarge, and your skin to break out. You may suffer increased fatigue and incredible food cravings. Let's not even mention varicose veins and mood swings!
Loving your body before pregnancy can help you get through the physical and emotional changes during pregnancy. Changing your body image while you are pregnant is a pretty tough thing to do, especially if it was already low to begin with. Here are some ideas to try and help you love and accept your pregnant body:
- Concentrate on your baby. Your body is changing in order to help your baby grow and develop. It is a natural process.
- Express your feelings. Talk with your partner, family, or friends about how you are feeling. Keeping your feelings bottled up will only make you feel worse.
- Try to get out for some enjoyable exercise. A light swim or walk can help you clear your mind and get the focus off your body.
- Take up prenatal yoga. Yoga focuses not on how your body looks, but on the link between your body and your mind.
- Practice self-massage. Touching your own body will help you to become more familiar and accepting of it.
- Learn as much as you can about pregnancy. By educating yourself, you will know what to expect and feel more in control.
- If you are really having serious issues, seek out mental health counseling.
Don't worry new moms! After your baby is born, your body has to adjust and return to a non-pregnant body. Your stomach may seem more of a pooch rather than the toned abs you are use to. Don't expect a flat belly after your delivery. Remember, your body has been through a lot in giving birth and needs time to recover. Give yourself some time to rest and catch up on some sleep.
The American Pregnancy Association suggests exercising as a way to help you get your pre-pregnancy body back. Join a gym that offers childcare or load up your stroller and walk through the neighborhood. This will also help get you out of the house so you can feel refreshed.
Having an eating disorder can increase your chances of never being able to get pregnant. The longer you have an eating disorder, the higher the risk that you will face some type of fertility problems. Both anorexia and bulimia can affect the reproductive process, pregnancy, and health of the baby.
Eating disorders can affect pregnancy negatively in a number of ways. The following complications are associated with eating disorders during pregnancy:
- Premature labor
- Low birth weight
- Stillbirth or fetal death
- Intrauterine growth retardation
- Likelihood of cesarean delivery
- Delayed fetal growth
- Respiratory problems
- Gestational diabetes
- Low amniotic fluid
Read more from womenshealth.gov
Healthy Pregnancy — Womenshealth.gov has created this site for expectant mothers. It provides information on fertility and birth control, each trimester of pregnancy, preparing for a new baby, childbirth, postpartum care, and financial help.
Explore other publications and websites
Body Image: Loving Your Body Before, During, and After Your Pregnancy (Copyright © American Pregnancy Association) — This publication discusses the importance of being comfortable with your body before pregnancy. It also explains what you can do to continue to love your body through all the major changes of pregnancy and the postpartum period.
Eating Disorders During Pregnancy (Copyright © American Pregnancy Association) — This publication explains how eating disorders affect fertility and pregnancy. It also provides information on what you can do to ensure the health of both you and your baby before, during, and after pregnancy.
Eating During Pregnancy (Copyright © Nemours Foundation) — This publication explains the importance of eating well during pregnancy. It includes information about nutrients your body needs, food cravings, and foods and beverages that should be avoided during pregnancy.
Stretch Marks (Copyright © Mayo Clinic) — This Web page gives information about stretch marks, which are common in pregnancy or weight gain. Information includes causes, treatment, and lifestyle remedies for stretch marks.
Connect with other organizations
Academy for Eating Disorders
American Pregnancy Association
Maternal and Child Health Bureau, HRSA, HHS
National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders
National Eating Disorders Association
Content last updated September 22, 2009.
Resources last updated September 22, 2009.
A federal government website managed by the Office on Women's Health in the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
200 Independence Avenue, S.W. • Washington, DC 20201