I’m not going to lie. Now that I’m pregnant… there are days where I hate my body, feel frumpy and unattractive. Being pregnant can make it a lot harder to feel good about your body or have a positive body image, so here are 8 tips to improve your body image.

Sometimes, I look at photos of me before I got pregnant and I miss looking and feeling like that. I could tie my shoelaces with ease, easily stand up and get out of a car without a groan!

I could exercise how I wanted. Eat what I liked. And my body was my own – not something I shared with another being.

"I hate my pregnant body!" - Feeling ugly during pregnancy? It's definitely not an easy time for a positive body image.
“I hate being pregnant!” – Feeling ugly during pregnancy? It’s definitely not an easy time for a positive body image. Image: Unsplash

Pregnancy is not an easy time for a positive body image… It’s normal to hate being pregnant, hate your pregnant body, to feel frumpy. Or feel bloated.

A tsunami of changes your pregnant body goes through can be seriously overwhelming and uncomfortable – especially when it’s not just your belly that’s getting bigger. 

(And realistically…you won’t lose weight during pregnancy, but you will probably gain weight around your thighs, face, and arms as your body needs more fat reserves. Plus, your boobs will grow, and then there’s bloating!)

Learning how to have a positive body image (or at least not hate your body) is hard, even more so when you’re pregnant. 

My boobs are huge and already saggier. There are so many veins across my body. Random hairs grow from strange places and I have more cellulite on my thighs. And let’s not even get started about the acne or pigmentation (melasma).

Don’t get me wrong. I am really grateful to be pregnant (in fact, I love pregnancy) but it’s not all Instagram filters and cute selfies. A lot of people hate being pregnant.

And if that’s you, that’s okay! 

If you’re feeling frumpy or depressed about weight gain during pregnancy, there is nothing wrong or abnormal with you.

It’s not fun feeling like you’ve lost control of your body. But can choose how you experience your pregnancy. 

Here are some things I’m doing to improve my body image while I’m pregnant:

24 week pregnancy me with our fur-baby, Panko (not pictured, the whole jar of pickles + juice eaten just after this photo was taken). TIP: pregnancy cravings are hard work!
24 week pregnancy me with our fur-baby, Panko (not pictured, the whole jar of pickles + juice eaten just after this photo was taken). TIP: pregnancy cravings are hard work! Image: Lyndi Cohen

1. You don’t have to love how your body looks right now

I’m being serious. Loving your body is a whole lotta pressure to put on yourself. As I said, it’s hard enough loving your unpregnant body so it’s perfectly acceptable not to love it now.

But for me?

I might not always love my body but I’ve decided (you see – it’s a decision that can be made) that I will always respect my body.

This means:

  • I don’t talk badly about my body to my partner, my friends or to myself.
  • If I am extra hungry, I give myself permission to eat more as I clearly need more energy.
  • If I am tired or sore, I choose gentle movement and I’ll take it slowly, even if this means I’m regressing, instead of progressing.

Your body is always worthy of kindness and respect – even if you don’t feel it looks cute, attractive, or beautiful.

2. How you look is the least impressive thing about you

This is something I often remind myself of.

As a woman, there is a truckload of pressure on us to look perfect. And this doesn’t let up in pregnancy.

I used to rely on looking good to feel good. But when the make-up came off, or the Spanx were removed or I gained a little weight – I felt ugly and hated my body, and therefore – not good enough.

This meant I let taking a bad photo ruin a great evening or beat myself up for gaining weight on holidays instead of enjoying a damn beautiful Italian vacation.

Now, I choose to see myself differently by reminding myself that I’m so much more than how I look.

I’ve found, if you remind yourself enough times – it really works.

Are you feeling depressed about weight gain during pregnancy? In this YouTube video, I share some of the things I’m doing to stay healthy in pregnancy and improve my body image.

3. Don’t compare yourself to other ‘pregnant’ people

Why does it seem like all the pregnant people on Instagram have gained zero weight apart from the perfect little bump you can’t even see unless they are standing sideways?

Seriously – that is NOT the average pregnancy experience.

Social media is a highlights reel – not real life. But you already know that.

But what you might not know is this.

Instagram feeds make loving your pregnancy body so much more difficult.
Comparing yourself to pregnant people on Instagram, who have gained zero weight apart from the perfect little bump? Seriously – that is NOT the average pregnancy experience. Image: Lyndi Cohen

One of my friends is a fashion model (stunning girl but that’s also the least impressive thing about her). Anyway. She occasionally models pregnancy clothes.

When she does, they give her a fake bump to look pregnant. Of course, she makes the clothes look amazing. But unlike most pregnant people, she hasn’t also gained weight around her face or lost muscle tone and she isn’t dealing with giant dark nipples or pregnancy acne either! So she looks like this ‘perfect’ looking pregnant person because she isn’t actually pregnant.

So when you see a ‘pregnant’ model, unless they are in lingerie – they probably aren’t pregnant anyway so it’s an unfair comparison. Even if they are pregnant, models don’t look like the ‘average’ person, anyway.

In fact, throw the idea of an average pregnant body out the window because every single body is different – pregnant or not. And every woman stores fat in different places, depending on body type.  

Remember… a woman’s body is designed to store fat when pregnant. So instead of agonising over what you see in the mirror (and your Instagram feed) shift your focus onto more important things like your health and the health of your baby.   

These things contribute to pregnant humans hating on our perfectly loving and fine growing bodies.

4. Accept that you’ll never “get your body back”

The truth is, you won’t get your pre-baby body back. 

Because you have a new body now.

One that created, grew and will soon birth your beautiful little baby. A body that may even be able to feed your baby for weeks, months, even years.  

Get excited about this new, stronger, more resilient body! Be grateful to it for giving you the most extraordinary gift – the privilege of becoming a parent. 

I’m still working on accepting this one but I think once I meet my baby, it’ll hit home differently.

Want a little support to feel strong and healthy as your lovely body and baby grow? Get a selection of FREE trimester-specific workouts from my app Back to Basics Pregnancy, safe for you and bub. The prenatal pilates and yoga sessions I’ve selected for you are fun, doable, and only require as little as 20 minutes to get you nice and strong, ready to carry your load around.

If you haven’t tried the workouts yet, get them now. I bet they’ll make you feel amazing.

Get my free trimester-specific workout series. Image: Lyndi Cohen
Get my FREE pregnancy workout series! Image: Lyndi Cohen

5. Remind yourself: You look exactly as you should for someone who is ___ weeks pregnant

Whenever I get down on how I look, my husband, Les reminds me of this:

“You look exactly as you should for someone who is __ months pregnant” is what he is will say to me.

I don’t know why, but I find this really comforting.

So now I’ve got into the habit of reminding myself of this fact whenever I’m feeling unattractive during pregnancy. It helps me.

{For more on how our partners can help us with loving our bodies, read my blog post on just that HERE }.

6. Prepare yourself for the rude and unsolicited comments from random people

I’ve heard it all.

“You’re massive! Are you having twins?!” and “You must be due any day now”

Or the equally hurtful “You’re so tiny” and “Are you sure you’re pregnant?”

For some reason, when you’re pregnant – people think it’s OK to comment on your body. And either type of comment can make you feel really bad.

I’ve realised something.

The only people who make these comments are people who have never been pregnant.

You know what?

These people don’t actually know what a pregnant body is meant to look like due to models with fake baby bumps, pregnant TV stars who look perfect due to the insane pressure they feel or Instagram highlights reel.

Pregnant people are also normally not on mainstream TV (especially not for the last few weeks) so I don’t think people see a real full-term pregnancy bump that often.

Anyway. I wish people would stop making these crappy comments but in the meantime, we’ll need to realise they just don’t know what they’re talking about and not pay the comments any attention. We know it’s hard enough trying to learn how to love your body in pregnancy!

My pregnant belly has swallowed RBG's lovely face! Oh well. I might not always love my body - sometimes I feel fat and frumpy - but I choose to appreciate my body with these strategies.
My pregnant belly has swallowed RBG’s lovely face! Oh well. I might not always love my body but I choose to appreciate my body with these strategies. Image: Lyndi Cohen

7. Remember what your body is accomplishing, right now

Instead of focusing on what your body looks like right now, try and focus on what it’s doing

Right now. 

No matter where you are in your pregnancy journey, I guarantee something incredible is happening inside that belly. You’re potentially growing a brain or kidneys as you read this!

I know it can feel like this pregnancy will never end, but it will. I promise. 

So do what you can to stay in the moment, and remember that everything happening to your body right now – no matter how uncomfortable – is connected to something remarkable.

8. Worry less about the ‘perfect’ weight gain – care more about your health

There is an insane amount of pressure to gain the ‘perfect’ amount of weight in pregnancy.

This is made harder by the fact that when you are pregnant, you have zero energy, no motivation for pregnancy exercise and you’re a VERY hungry, hungry caterpillar!!!

The ‘right’ amount of weight to gain is totally different for everyone. (I wrote a blog post about this too)

If you want to do the best thing for your body and baby in pregnancy, stop obsessing over weight gain and simply focus on healthy habits.

Do pregnancy-safe workouts that make you feel good and cook easy, simple and healthy recipes (the kind that you actually want to eat). If you want to learn more about how to eat healthily when you’re pregnant, you’ll find this blog post helpful.

I don’t know about you but I completely lost any interest in cooking during pregnancy, so quick and convenient is what I specialise in.

If you worry that you might put something in your body that isn’t safe for bub, download my FREE Pregnancy Food LisHERE. It’ll help you guide your food choices during pregnancy, so takes the stress out of confirming what’s safe and what’s not.

Get my free pregnancy food list. Image: Lyndi Cohen
Take the stress out of confirming what’s safe and what’s not with my FREE Pregnancy Food List.

Hate being pregnant? Feeling depressed about weight gain during pregnancy? Wondering how other women are coping?

Check out my Back to Basics Pregnancy App. It will help you accept your bodily changes…and maybe you’ll even learn how to love your body in pregnancy.

You can try it free for 7-days!