When Michelle Anthony discovered she was pregnant, she experienced the usual whirlwind of mother-to-be emotions -- awe, joy, and excitement. But lurking behind these was another, darker feeling. "I'd struggled with body image my whole life," says the Englewood, Colorado, resident. "So learning to accept my new shape -- and all those extra pounds -- was a bit of a challenge."
Naturally thin, Michelle gained ten pounds during her first trimester and more than 40 by the time her daughter was born. Far from molding itself into a cute little tummy, the weight went everywhere -- thighs, hips, and chest. "I didn't feel like an adorable pregnant woman," she says. "I felt oversize for my own body -- and even outgrew my maternity clothes."
Such confessions can be difficult -- and no wonder. Pregnancy is supposed to be a happy time. Fretting over dimpling thighs seems unnatural -- or worse, unmaternal. But the fact is, such concerns are normal. "No matter how much they hate to admit it, most mothers-to-be struggle with their changing figure," says Ann Kearney-Cooke, Ph.D., director of the Cincinnati Psychotherapy Institute and a specialist in women's issues.
So how, exactly, should you deal with these negative emotions? For starters, give yourself permission to feel both the joy and the frustration of having your body change in so many ways. Next, use strategies like these to embrace your new curves.