Learning to Love Your Body.

Taking a good look at your body, inside and out.

So you’re pregnant…

Pretty incredible, exciting, wondrous… hard to think of much else but this amazing condition, isn’t it? Well, rightfully so! You, pregnant woman, are amazing. And this is indeed an amazing time of life.

Pregnant… Consider the meaning of the word. These are among the published definitions:

Full of meaning; significant, suggestive. Weighty, fruitful, creative, inventive. Filled, of great import, producing results, abounding…

Yes, ladies. That’s YOU.

Whether you are 15 or 50… if you are pregnant, you are beautiful. You are the fertile goddess embodied. No matter what your weight, your size, your color, your condition… right now, it’s time to see the true beauty that is the pregnant woman – and that is you.

Okay, mamas, it’s time to take a good look at your beautiful self. Starting with the outside. Your blooming body.

Sometime this week, please take (make!) a few minutes alone in your bedroom or bathroom. Find a safe, private place and space and just stand in front of a mirror. Don’t hide behind your clothes. Shed them. Reveal the greater beauty! Observe and appreciation the softening skin, the rounding belly, growing breasts, the newly revealed mysterious lines and sensuous curves, beautiful primal changes that only nature could design…

And that’s just the outside.

You ARE beautiful, inside and out. Now. This is considered by so many the most beautiful time of womanhood, and life. Look and see your beauty now. Appreciate. Honor. Revere. You are the goddess, you are the earth mama, you are the glorious soul passing through the powerful gates of transformation, you are the flowering tree and the ripening fruit. Not matter your weight, your shape, your size, your color, you are beautiful.

What about inside?  Hmmm… you too? You’ve never looked, have you? You’ve left the deeper knowing and understanding of that part of you up to someone else, haven’t you?  Don’t worry. Most of us have. And some of us are ready to change that.  Maybe it is time to truly begin to know, understand and appreciate your beautiful body, inside and out. If you are ready, read on. If you are not, please respect and honor that within yourself.

I’m almost fifty, and it was just this last year that I even thought about this. Where have I been? What was I (or wasn’t I) thinking, I asked myself? This is a deeply (pardon the pun) personal question: Have you ever looked inside yourselves to see what your gynecologist has seen?

There’s a fun book on the subject of self-care, self-exploration, and self-knowledge: A New View of a Woman’s Body by the Federation of Feminist Women’s Health Centers. It is out of print, but you can still find copies on Amazon and through other used book sellers, and worth trying to get your hands on a copy of this classic. I won’t go on about this further for now. Sometime just considering this is enough to open our minds.

For now, back to the topic of body image…Please give this some serious thought. It’s important because you are important. So take the time for consideration, maybe write about in your Sacred Journal and find someone you’re comfortable with to talk about it if you would like.

How do you feel about your body? About the changes? About how it’s working for you right now? Are you ashamed of these changes, or do you honor and celebrate and rejoice in this powerful, beautiful time of growth and creation? Do you feel beautiful? Of course I’m biased, and I feel any woman in the childbirth continuum is at her most beautiful. But I want you to be open and honest. How do you feel? Body image is complicated.

First, we all have a history, and many of us have body image, abuse, confusion or other physical and sexual issues as a powerful part of our defining history. Added to this, much of our personal perspective is based on cultural factors, public and personal support and expression around us. The social norms, pressures and demands we all experience are ridiculously strong, often negative, and centered on an unrealistic, narrow view of impossible perfection.

Who defines perfection anyway? Can we find perfection in all of our wonderful imperfections – in our beautiful uniqueness and variation and diversity?

When I was in a small town in South America attending birth, I saw a very different view of the pregnant woman. There, she was honored and treated like the goddess she is. Pregnant women were revered. They were allowed to step forward in line, doors were held open, warm smiles were shared by strangers, and the growing belly was often touched by strangers – which was not considered weird, uncomfortable or out of place, but the norm. It reminded me of touching Buddha’s belly for good luck.

Contrast this to being a single woman in the states back twenty years ago when I was pregnant.  Few people took notice, held the door, helped me with my groceries, or got up to give me the seat in the train. I remember feel very little support by society. Just one more young pregnant woman taxing the system…

Keep the societal support, or lack thereof, in perspective. We can’t change the world, and right now, you got your hands (and belly) full – that’s where your attention is directed. So, work within your own tribe, your own support community, your family, partner, best friends. Create a small support community that will love you and your blossoming body and help share in the wonders of this special time.

Your body is changing. You can feel it. You can see it. So can everyone else.

Now is the time to rejoice in those changes! Now is the time to love your body. Most of us do not go into pregnancy loving our body. And so I ask this of you: can you leave your old views and ideas and self image behind, and can you start anew now?  If not for yourself, then for the little life growing inside you? Can you create a small supportive community that understands and can help you with this? Can you work towards, at least try, loving your body?

I know it’s not easy. Loving your body. How it looks, how it feels. In all stages of life.

It takes time. It takes support. It takes practice and patience. And it takes lots and lots of love.

Self awareness = self care = self direction = greater self esteem = self love.