As a 30ish-something in recovery from an eating disorder, I have often wondered how my history would impact how I feel about my body while pregnant, post-partum, and probably most importantly how I model positive body image to my child(ren). I wonder if old insecurities will creep back into my life, leading to unhealthy habits.
This came to mind after reading a blog titled “What Having Four Kids Including Twins Has Done to My Body and My Confidence” [see below for link]. Similar to the author, I spent much of my teen and young adult life struggling with negative body image, and going between yo-yo diets, restricting, bingeing, and purging. I can totally relate to her using her bubbly personality and hair and makeup as a way to compensate for all the hurt I felt inside.
Fast forward and the author discusses her experience with her changing body and frustration over gaining weight and losing weight with 3 pregnancies, last of which was with twins. She expressed that with her first two pregnancies she lost the weight she had gained with each, but also described the weight loss as coming from a place of frustration and visceral harshness to her body. When she learned she was having twins, there was a period of panic as she thought of how big she would get, but that changed when she disconnected from her body as an image and considered it to be a vessel; a place to keep her babies growing and safe.
This helped her take care of her body appropriately throughout her pregnancy so that she could have healthy babies, but this somewhat changed once they were born. She literally described her belly as being deflated and bruised. However, she decided to continue being kind to her body post-partum, unlike she had done with her 2 previous pregnancies. She decided to eat healthy, indulge in moderation, and set small realistic goals. She wanted to feel good overall, not be hyper focused on what her body looked like, instead only focusing on having the best body and health she could.
This woman is inspiring to me. Yes, the clinician who works with individuals with eating disorders and body image issues still needs a boost of confidence and inspiration from time to time. I feel like I have been given permission to simply love my body for whatever it turns into while pregnant and post baby. I have permission to just be myself, take care of myself, and love myself and not get caught up in the expectations of others, society, or my irrational thoughts or fears. My body is a vessel.
By Courtney Thomas, LCPC at The Body Image Therapy Center. If you would like to get in touch with Courtney please call 443-602-6515 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.