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5 Ways to Overcome Body Dysmorphia During Pregnancy (Or anytime Really)

Learning how to overcome body dysmorphia during pregnancy was one of the most challenging yet rewarding hurdles I have ever faced. Despite being someone who has consistently struggled with body image throughout their life, body dysmorphia during pregnancy wasn’t something I was prepared for. 

After seeing so many fit pregnant moms on TikTok and reading blogs about the ‘average weight gain during pregnancy,’ I genuinely believed that I wouldn’t gain that much weight during pregnancy and would love my body as a result. 

Instead, I gained 30 pounds in my first trimester and slipped into a super-dark depression.

In retrospect, I can see how dangerous that mindset was. Associating beauty and self-love with body weight is a slippery slope that almost always ends in catastrophe. If you read the article I wrote about learning how to embrace my pregnant body, you know that working with a body confidence coach was one of the best decisions I could have made for myself (and my daughter). 

Before motherhood, dealing with body dysmorphia was something I had accepted as normal, but being pregnant changed everything. I was faced with a choice: continue living in misery and pass my pain onto my daughter, or call myself out on my bullshit and break the generational trauma.

Huge shoutout to my coach, Briana Arteaga, for teaching me these skills and giving me the green light to share them with you! Here are 5 tools you can implement today to start overcoming your body dysmorphia during pregnancy (or anytime really) and start living your life with more abundance and love. 

Replacing Lies With New Truths 

First things first… you gotta stop lying to yourself!!! And the only way you’re going to do that is by sitting down, getting uncomfortable and calling yourself on your bullshit. When I started working with Briana, I didn’t know the first step in identifying lies. Why? Because I genuinely believed all of them, and if you’re reading this blog, I can imagine you do too. I had spent so many years lying to myself about my body image and my ability to change that I had completely given up on myself. 

I’d say things to myself like: 

“I’m unloveable.”

“I need to be skinnier to be pretty.” 

“I can’t wear that outfit unless my body looks a certain way.” 

“I’m so worthless.” 

“I’ll never be in good enough shape.” 

And don’t get me started about the echoing voices from other people: 

“You look so good. Did you lose weight?”

“You have really hairy legs.”

“Why don’t you wear makeup?”

“Have you gained weight recently?” 

Or the pregnancy-specific comments:

“Wow, you’re about to POP.”

“Omg you’re so big.”

“You look like you’re due any day now!”

“Are you having twins?!” 

……the list goes on and on. 

The problem with talking to yourself like this (or harboring thoughts from other people) is that when you start to believe the lies, you are actively changing the chemistry in your brain. You are quite literally wiring yourself to feel hatred towards your body. 

So, how do you stop it? You replace the lies with new truths. 

Easier said than done, yes. But I promise it gets easier with practice. And it doesn’t have to be complex.

REPEAT AFTER ME  → 

I break agreement with the lie that ________________

I receive the truth that ________________

My truth is: “I am perfect just the way I am.” 

Using Affirmations to Overcome Body Dysmorphia During Pregnancy

Next up in Briana’s framework is using positive affirmations to embrace your body. Many people practice affirmations by writing them down on paper and reading them in silence anytime they look at the paper. And while that does hold some power, the real work comes from speaking your affirmations out loud–or as Briana would say, harnessing the power of your voice. 

Instead of silently thinking about my positive affirmations, Bri taught me to:

  • Speak my affirmations out loud in the morning 
  • Practice positive self-talk in the mirror
  • Confess my affirmations in front of another person 

So that’s exactly what I did. Every morning, I woke up, looked at myself in the mirror, and said:

“I am cultivating life.”

“I am perfect just the way I am.”

“My body is a vessel.” 

“I am beautiful.”

“My curves are protecting my child.” 

I’m not going to lie. A lot of the time, when I said these things, I felt like a liar. I would look at myself and say, “I’m beautiful” while simultaneously thinking, “No, you’re not.” And guess what? That’s totally normal. These things take TIME. Most of us have spent decades bashing ourselves and believing it. It’s going to take more than a few affirmations in the mirror to fully rewire your brain into believing your new truths. But like all things in life, consistency is key. I promise you. There is a light at the end of the tunnel.

Embracing Imperfections & Becoming Gentle 

Ok…this is arguably the most important part because let’s be real. If you can’t embrace your imperfections and let go of expectations, your journey will be a lot harder than it needs to be. If you’re struggling with body dysmorphia during pregnancy (or in your regular life), it’s time to accept your journey. Your journey to self-love and healing is, well, YOURS. Not your besties, not the influencers you see online, not your mothers… It’s yours. 

There will be ups and downs along the way, but as long as you stay true to yourself and hold onto some hope–you will keep going. For me, I needed to remind myself that I am more than my body. When I had a shitty day and started feeling those negative thoughts creep back in, I reminded myself that I was more than the flesh in front of me. 

I am a mother. I am a daughter. I am smart. I am loving. I am kind. I am resilient. I am more than my body.

I started giving myself permission to LIVE again. Permission to eat food without punishing myself with extra workouts or missed meals. Permission to buy new clothes that fit me and toss the old ones. Permission to set my own health standards. Permission to take rest days. PERMISSION TO BE ME!!! 

And guess what? When the weight started piling on and the stretch marks started to show, I could look in the mirror and still feel compassion for myself. When I sat on the toilet seat to wipe and BROKE IT IN HALF (LOL)… I was able to laugh hysterically instead of cry.

I accepted that health for me was personal and didn’t have to look like the rules and standards other people live by. I learned that not all days are good days, but that doesn’t mean the bad days have to define me. 

Diving Into Shadow Work 

Now that we’ve got some solid footing on our road to body redemption, it’s time to tackle all the shit lurking in the shadows of your brain. You know, the pesky voices in your head that challenge all of this luscious, loving work. The ones that tell you to quit while you’re ahead. The ones that tell you the lies. 

Those little voices are the root of your body image issues. They are the patterns that keep you from progressing or from starting in the first place. They are the reason you always make it to a certain point and then throw your hands up with frustration. 

I’ll let you in on a little secret… you have to go through it to get through it. 

While working with Bri, we started discussing my body image patterns and how they impacted my body dysmorphia during pregnancy. Between my nightly homework assignments and our 1:1 video chats, she noticed that I frequently talked about how much I hated my body when I got clean and sober. I would often compare my current feelings about my pregnant body to the way I felt about myself when I was clean and gained a shit ton of weight. 

This slapped me in the face because I had NEVER even considered that as a pattern. But she was right. I was subconsciously holding onto all of the pain from a past version of myself and projecting it onto the current version of me. 

Bri had me visualize walking into a room, sitting down with the hurt version of myself, and speaking to her kindly. 

Honestly, I’ve never been so uncomfortable in my life. I broke down crying, and at that moment, I felt a huge weight lifted from my soul. I was finally able to accept that the weight I gained from getting clean and sober was necessary. The weight was not a burden; it was a blessing. If I was celebrating being clean and sober, why was I hating the body that got me there? 

The same thing goes for pregnancy. I was celebrating my future daughter, so why was I hating the body that was creating her? 

Patterns are pesky little things, and they’re honestly really hard to see by yourself. I don’t know if I would have realized this without Bri’s help. So, if you don’t have a coach to walk you through it and identify them for you, try asking a loved one or keeping a journal and reflecting back on it 1x week. Or just practice asking yourself: What was the first time, or most recent time, I experienced being uncomfortable in my body? 

Identify the moment and negative emotions associated with that memory. Admit that it hurt. Allow yourself to grieve that version of yourself. And most importantly, forgive yourself and anyone involved with those feelings. 

“Invite a higher power or version of yourself into the memory and show yourself the kindness, love and grace that you needed in that moment that you didn’t get from the people who were around you. That’s the heart healing. The new truth that you receive when you’re having a grace and kindness moment becomes your practice. Now, when you’re revisiting those memories, you’ll feel much lighter.“  

Briana Arteaga

Seeking Community & Support 

Conquering body dysmorphia during pregnancy might start with you, but it certainly doesn’t end there. I don’t care how independent you are–you can’t do it alone. Having a support system to remind you that you’re not alone on your journey is crucial to success. Whether it’s an online group, a coach, a therapist, or your friends and family, it’s important to have a community that understands your struggles.

Why? Well, the world isn’t made to cater to your emotions and sensitivities, which means you’re responsible for protecting yourself and setting yourself up for success.

In a perfect world, people would never comment about your body, but that’s not reality. The reality is most people consider comments like “Omg, you’ve lost so much weight!” a compliment. They don’t stop to consider that what they just said might make you think, “Does that mean they thought I was fat before?”

The reality is that not everybody has done the healing work. Sometimes, you have to teach people how to support you. You can do this by setting boundaries on things you will and will not accept or discuss, taking a social media cleanse or joining a group of like-minded people to discuss your struggles and triumphs. 

Conclusion

If you made it to the end… I’m so freakin’ proud of you. It takes a lot of guts to admit you’re struggling, let alone to try and face your hurdles head-on. Drop a <3 in the comments below or share your story. How do you combat body dysmorphia in your life?

If you want to learn more about how to overcome body dysmorphia during pregnancy (or any other time), check out Briana’s Instagram where she shares tons of inspirational videos and vlogs! Stay tuned for one of her future workshops.

Picture of Cydney Nelson

Cydney Nelson

Cydney Nelson is the Founder, CEO and Creative Director of Departed Creature. With a passion for authentic storytelling, Cydney shares her journey through mental health, pregnancy, travel and more. Her mission is to break stigmas, inspire and create a safe space where everyone can belong.

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Picture of Cydney Nelson

Cydney Nelson

Cydney Nelson is the Founder, CEO and Creative Director of Departed Creature. With a passion for authentic storytelling, Cydney shares her journey through mental health, pregnancy, travel and more. Her mission is to break stigmas, inspire and create a safe space where everyone can belong.

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