Embrace Your Image

5 ways to thrive in a changing body.

Now that you're pregnant, life looks different. You may feel unsure of yourself and your changing body since every day seems to be an adventure in transformation. In addition to nausea and fatigue, you're on the emotional-hormonal rollercoaster ride of a lifetime, which can make you fierce, weepy, euphoric, and amnesiatic all at the same time.

While you're excited about becoming a mother, that feeling might not extend to all of the social outings and events you're scheduled to attend between now and your baby's arrival. You may not feel like being the life of the party, or even going to one in the first place. Instead, it's possible that you're fantasizing about hibernating. But as cozy as that scenario might sound — especially if you are fatigued — it's a better choice to have some fun with friends, even if you scale back on your typical social schedule.

Unless you are fortunate enough to experience one of those picture-perfect pregnancies, there are going to be times when you feel tired, uncomfortable, emotional, unattractive, and less-than-patient. Fulfilling social expectations and obligations can definitely turn from cheer to chore in a hurry.

Remember that time spent with friends and family is good for your health, and socializing may boost your energy and mood. You'll have plenty of time to stay at home once the baby is born. So go out and show 'em what you've got!

Read on for five tips on how to psych yourself up for outings and events.

1) Let positivity reign.

It's all too easy to let doubts and negative self-talk put you on house arrest. You know how it goes. Thoughts such as the following may sound familiar: "I feel huge, and I'm sure I look like it, too;" "The last thing I want is to be around svelte people in their pretty dresses;" "My face is so puffy, and I can't control my hair;" or "I really don't want to look like that in photos." If these less-than-inspiring thoughts have become pervasive, stop right there and place a stern no-negativity ban on your mental dialogue.

Start in the mirror. Stop focusing on nagging imperfections, and instead see the new you. Rather than brushing off the compliments of friends and your spouse, for instance, make a real effort to see yourself through their eyes. Pregnancy is a time when a woman comes into her own, and it's important to focus on all of the positive things that are happening to you. Say it with me, "I'm beautiful!"

2) Embrace your curves.

When they become pregnant, some women can't wait to show off their bumps, and they manage to find outfit after outfit that looks simply stunning. But if you're not a celebrity and model, you may be a little more reluctant to venture out into the social swirl. You may wonder whether to play up or camouflage your pregnancy. But if you've got it, flaunt it!

In the grand scheme of things, you're going to be pregnant for only a short slice of your life. You've got years and years ahead to wear "normal" clothes. So find a few outfits for special occasions that tastefully flatter the body you have right now. Remember, in addition to your bump, you've got that fabled radiant glow, not to mention cleavage you never dreamed of. So have fun with the new, more voluptuous you.

3) Try something new.

There's already something out-of-the-ordinary about your look: Your mommy-to-be body! So why not venture into fun new fashion realms, too? Spice up your look with a colorful scarf or eye-catching costume jewelry. And if you're tired of your maternity stand-bys, try something bold: a statement ring, bright leggings under a tunic, or jewel-toned flats.

Better yet, try something you've always been intrigued by but never dared to do, like wearing a sequined top or getting a fierce, artsy manicure. Branching out from the basics — which, let's face it, can get really boring, really quickly — will enhance your look and your mood.

4) Prep yourself.

Even in your pre-pregnancy days, getting ready for a social event took a little work. Now, you have a great excuse to take the pampering even further. Getting your mind and body (hair, lips, eyes, and nails) ready to socialize is well worth your time because it'll help you to feel comfortable and confident.

You might want to exercise a bit in the morning to energize yourself. Then, get in a good nap and meditate for 10 minutes. Focus gently on how you want to feel, and be kind with your internal messages. Embark on your personal getting-ready regimen. Lastly, go back to the mirror, and say three things you love about yourself. Be your own cheerleader. It works!

5) Have a laugh.

While having a baby may be exciting to you, your family, and your friends, it's good to have other things to talk about. And if you're anything like me, there will come a point when you'll be desperate to change the subject and talk about anything but your belly and your baby! Make it a game, and remember that everybody loves a good laugh.

Here are some favorite conversation starters:

  • If you could do anything without any personal consequences, what would it be?
  • If you were stranded on a desert island and could bring only one celebrity, who would it be and why? (My choice is Stephen Colbert. And yours?)

As you psych yourself up about your body image, remember that everyone loves a pregnant woman. If you dread socializing, let others do the talking. Just asking a few questions, then listening attentively, makes most people think you are brilliant, interesting, and a great person! Chances are, you'll have a better time than expected while you're expecting.