Stacey Lonergan of Port Washington says she couldn’t wait until her tummy “popped out” and she could put on maternity clothes. “For once in my life, I actually feel good about showing off my stomach” she says.
For some women, including those with eating disorders, pregnancy can provide a welcome vacation from body-image problems. “These mothers-to-be set aside their body-image issues for the duration of pregnancy, often becoming proud of their expanding bellies and enjoying the attention they receive as they nurture the life inside them,” says Jean Rubel, Th.D., founder of ANRED (Anorexia Nervosa and Related Eating Disorders) in Eugene, Ore.
Trust your body
Some women fear that once the weight is on, it won’t come off after the baby is born. But moderate exercise during pregnancy (with your doctor’s approval) can prevent this. “Studies show that most women who gain the amount of weight outlined in the Institute of Medicine guidelines have little reason to worry about not returning to their previous body weight,” says Jennifer Lovejoy, Ph.D., chief of women’s nutrition research at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, La. (The IOM recommends that women of normal weight gain 25 to 35 pounds during pregnancy; underweight women gain 28 to 40 pounds; and overweight women gain 15 to 25 pounds.)
Just as your body miraculously changes to accommodate a baby, it has the same ability to bounce back afterward. “Trust your body,” says psychologist Kearney-Cooke. “It knows what to do and won’t betray you. Just look around you at all the new mothers who look downright fabulous.”