Pregnancy is undeniably a time of accelerated body change. For women who may have a history of avoiding their body or engaging in other types of negative body image perpetuating behaviours, body avoidance becomes impossible to pursue. And while this can be a huge struggle, it can also be a wonderful opportunity to begin the healing work around your own relationship with food and your body image.
There are a few main types of behaviour that can reveal a problematic relationship with body image:
In pregnancy and postpartum, there is a certain process of surrender that is necessary to be able to accept that your body is not going to bounce back as our culture often expects it to, and that can be a painful process for women. But there are certain behaviours that we can and should try to avoid to help in the process. We are conditioning ourselves mentally every single day, and the kind of self-talk you engage with and images you consume can have a very real impact on your mental state - neuroplasticity has shown that our brains can and are rewired by our thoughts.
The following is a brief outline of steps & strategies that can help create a healthier relationship with your own body and self-image. Dr. Sarah and Shannon discuss each step with more detail and depth in today’s podcast!
For a lot of us, the first time we had a negative body image thought often goes back to early childhood - we are frequently fighting back decades of negative self-talk - and that is no easy task. Try to remember to be patient and kind to yourself while going through the process.
Intuitive eating essentially means that as humans we have an innate ability to feed ourselves. Some studies have shown that when you lay a newborn baby on her mother’s chest, they are able to wriggle their way up to the breast and start feeding by themselves!
In newer terms, Intuitive Eating is a self-care eating framework comprised of 10 principles, developed in 1995 by dieticians looking to tune people back into practicing this innate ability that may have been lost from years of following a diet culture. Shannon outlines its many concepts on today’s podcast, including satisfaction, coping mechanisms, body respect, redefining your experience with exercise, gentle as opposed to “forced” nutrition, and deprivation backlash to list a few.
Body love can be an elusive concept - a seemingly unnatural and almost violent transition from negativity to positivity. Moving toward body neutrality - being aware that most negative thoughts may still continue to float in the background of your mind, but they do not have to dictate your actions - can be a helpful goal, especially as you strive to grow your baby within the most peaceful environment you can create for them.
For more great resources on Body Image, Diet Culture and Intuitive Eating, check out:
Find Shannon Smith, today’s guest and Registered Nurse working in mental health for over 14 years, specializing in eating disorders at: