Healthy Body Image During Pregnancy

Your body goes through many changes during pregnancy. While these changes may be necessary for the growth and development of your baby, it's sometimes hard to feel good about yourself during the process. What exactly does it mean to have a healthy body image? Why is important- especially during pregnancy? Plus, our mamas weigh in on aspects of their own bodies that bothered them the most during pregnancy.

View Episode Transcript

Featured Segments

  • 5 Minute Birth Stories

    Share your birth story with our audience in five minutes or less! Simply send us a voicemail through our website and tell us all about your special day. We’ll incorporate your story into an upcoming episode!

  • Ask Pregnancy Experts

    Our team of experts are here to help you throughout your pregnancy journey. View the experts section on our homepage and learn more about them. Then, submit your questions through email, or via voicemail on our website, and quench your curiosity.

Episode Transcript

Preggie Pals
Healthy Body Image During Pregnancy

LINDSAY STENOVEC: Your body goes through many changes during pregnancy. And while we all know these changes are necessary for the growth and development of your baby it’s sometimes hard to look past the weight gain and swollen ankles and temporary skin conditions. So, how do you overcome feelings of doubt and insecurity and instead focus on having the healthiest pregnancy possible? I’m Lindsay Stenovec, Registered Dietitian and Eating Disorder in Family Nutrition Specialist and today we’re exploring having a healthy body image during pregnancy. This is Preggie Pals, episode 86.

[Theme Music/Intro]

SUNNY GAULT: Welcome to Preggie Pals broadcasting from the Birth Education Center of San Diego. Preggie Pals is your weekly online, on-the-go support group for expecting parents and those hoping to become pregnant. I’m your host Sunny Gault, thanks to all the members of our Preggie Pals Club. Our members get exclusive contents such as bonus interviews after each episode plus transcripts from each show and special giveaways and discounts from our partners. For more information visit our website

If you do not live in the San Diego area where we record our shows but you would like to be a panelist on Preggie Pals, you can still participate through our Virtual Panelist Program. You can follow us on facebook and twitter for a sneak peak of the questions we’ll be exploring during our shows. If you are on twitter use hashtag #preggiepalsvp, VP stands for virtual panelist and you can submit your comments for a chance to be on the show. You can also ask our expert questions that way, so, it’s a great way to get involved. And we’re also going to select one lucky winner to win a free membership to the Preggie Pals Club. So if you’re interested on that that is a great way to save some money.

Okay, so let’s meet some of the panelists here that are joining us here in the studio. I’m going to start with Annie, Annie introduce yourself.

ANNIE LAIRD: Hi! I’m Annie, I’m 35 years old. My occupation, I may a contracted instructor for the military. I don’t have a due date; I just have my baby five days ago. So, baby girl that was a surprise

SUNNY GAULT: And she’s here in the room because she’s a newborn, she’s sleeping

ANNIE LAIRD: Yes. So I have my newborn Stella, and then my two other children Lucy, who is one and Clara who is eight.

SUNNY GAULT: Okay, and Rachel

RACHEL HARRIS: Hi! I’m Rachel Harris, I’m 27 and my occupation is stay-at-home mom during the day, Placenta Encapsulation Specialist and Childbirth educator. I have a little boy, Levi who’s 17 months and a daughter Galilee who just turned five.

SUNNY GAULT: What cute names. I love that!

RACHEL HARRIS: Thank you so much

SUNNY GAULT: So cute. And Lindsay, do you want to say a little bit about yourself?

LINDSAY STENOVEC: Sure. I’m Lindsay, I’m a Dietitian in the San Diego area and at the end of the day, I help women heal their relationship with food and their bodies and I also help them to help their families do the same.

SUNNY GAULT: So important, especially during pregnancy. This is such a great topic, I’m really excited for today. Well ladies, thank you for joining us.

[Theme Music]

SUNNY GAULT: Okay, so before we get started with today’s show, you guys heard from Annie a little bit in the beginning and she just had her baby girl, Stella, who is here in the studio and we do have a segment on Preggie Pals called Five Minute Birth Stories, where in 5 minutes or less, we try to give the highlights, because I know a lot happens during birth. We can’t give all of the details, but at least some of the highlights from our birth. And so, since Annie has been a panelist on this show on the past and she’s also taking over as host at Preggie Pals here shortly. I thought you guys would all get a kick out of hearing her birth stories. So, Annie tell us a little bit about you’ve had a busy last week.

ANNIE LAIRD: I have. Yes. So, this is baby number three. My birth story for baby Stella, although it was unknown at gender here until the birth. So, again, my third baby. My first was a planned hospital birth which was fine although I knew I wanted something different with my second. My second was a planned home birth and we needed to transfer into the hospital the very end. So, going again for the homebirth for number three. Went through childbirth education and really took care of myself throughout my pregnancy.

My husband was deployed for a majority of my pregnancy. So, I was really hoping that he would be able to make it home in time. He came home from his deployment when I was 38 weeks pregnant was having just prodromal labor for a few weeks and went over my due date and still no baby. So he had his change of command, he is seemed to command of a minesweeper at Point Loma and so, it was really-really rainy and kind of a crappy day and I was able to make it and I was very happy the baby had not come.

That evening when we got home, I sent home the babysitter about an hour after that the contraction started, regular pattern didn’t stop so, called my birth photographer called my Doula, who ended up, she had the flu and so, she had to call, it was so sad because we have a great relationship as it turned out the back up that she had selected was, I’m a doula as well, so the back up that she had selected for herself was this woman and I back each other up when I act as a doula. So she came in the house, the senior midwife came to the house and by then it was probably about midnight.

Regular contractions, but, the midwife was concerned that I was going to run out of gas. So, sent everyone to bed, I tried to sleep unsuccessfully but at least everybody else could get some sleep. I spent a lot of time walking back and forth. I think I peed probably every five minutes. Going back and forth throughout the night, from the bathroom to the bed, bathroom to the bed. Woke up in the morning, was checked at five, labored some more just walking around in the house. My husband set up the birth pool, I took one look at it and said “That looks like the worst thing in the world right now”. I didn’t pay any money to get into that thing.

I don’t know if I had to do it because I’m a little bit claustrophobic, so I just wanted to be able to move and stay vertical. At eight o’clock, I felt sick and I turn to my kitchen sink and vomited on my kitchen sink at the same time I thought I peed myself but turned out it was my water breaking. I’m yelling at everybody, telling them I’m so stupid, why am I doing this again, this is ridiculous. I felt a lot of pressure, so started just pushing insatiably, now my second baby I pushed once and she was born, so once the midwife told me “Oh that’s your amniotic fluid” I’m like “awesome”, I’m tired. I’m ready to be done with this, not so much, I pushed and I pushed and I pushed all over my house, walking up and down the stairs, falling asleep on my feet literally until the midwife’s basically conferred among themselves and said okay “this has to happen now” because you’re getting exhausted.

So, I ended up on my back in my bed which was the last position that I wanted to be in. With my husband holding up one foot and my doula holding up the other foot and I pushed out my baby and they told me to reach down and grab your baby and I did and so I was the first one that pulled her up to my chest and saw that it was a little girl. And I kind of had that feeling that that was a little girl as well. So I’ve been at home until pretty much, today, just recovering

SUNNY GAULT: What a great date. Coming out to Preggie Pals

ANNIE LAIRD: Yeah. And that probably the best part of the whole birth was just being monitored carefully but not feeling like I was being watched. And two hours after the birth, everything was cleaned up and my other daughters were in school and daycare so my husband and I collapsed into bed with the baby, and it was wonderful. We just have had a wonderful post partum period of just me and my baby and my family around me

SUNNY GAULT: I love that. So, a good home birth experience, no transferring, no anything like that

ANNIE LAIRD: No. Very hard though. I mean, probably the hardest of all my three births, it was a lot of work. It was a lot of work.

SUNNY GAULT: Why do you think this one was a little bit more difficult?

ANNIE LAIRD: I think some of it was just due to some pelvic floor support issues. They actually had to hold kind of my pelvic floor out of the way it was almost like my midwife was like a human speculum basically, kind of pushing my pelvic floor out of the way so that the baby could descend. I didn’t mention the baby was 9 pounds 14 ounces

SUNNY GAULT: But you’ve had big babies in the past

ANNIE LAIRD: I have and that might have something to do with kind of pelvic floor issues that surfaced during this birth so, with number two it was like “Oh, you know it was so quick” and it was intense. But I felt that “Oh I could just do this again”. This was exhausting, hard work, you know, just “Oh my back, not where I wanted to be”, so after this one I think, we’re pretty set with our three girls. Yeah, I don’t think my husband wants to risk paying for four weddings. And once vagina is better inside of your body and not outside of your body, so, I think my pelvic floor has had enough of ten-pound babies. So we’re very happy with our family and I’m very happy with how this birth turned out

SUNNY GAULT: Annie, what a great story, and thank you for being here today and for sharing it we really appreciate it

ANNIE LAIRD: You’re welcome

SUNNY GAULT: So if you guys have a birth story that you want to share, we want to hear it. If you can give in five minutes or less, you can call our voicemail, the number is 619-866-4775 and leave us a message and we’ll play it on our show.

[Theme Music]

SUNNY GAULT: Maintaining a healthy body image during pregnancy can be challenging especially during your latter trimesters, when all of your body part starts to get a little bit bigger than normal. Today we’re joined by Lindsay Stenovec, she is a Registered Dietitian, she’s also the owner of and she’s here to help us feel a little bit more confident about our pregnant bodies. So, Lindsay, welcome to Preggie Pals

LINDSAY STENOVEC: Thanks. Thanks for having me.

SUNNY GAULT: Okay so let’s turn off by talking about, when we say healthy body image, what in the world does that mean? How would you define that?

LINDSAY STENOVEC: Yeah, it’s a really good question. You know there probably isn’t just one definition of what a healthy body image is and I think it’s unique for every individual but generally, you know, it’s going to be, you know sound beliefs and emotions in respect to your body and yourself, in your entire body not just what your body looks like. And maybe neutral, it may be positive, kind of depending on the individual, you know, but, at the end of the day accepting your body as it is, is a very healthy way to feel about the body.

SUNNY GAULT: Now, I have to ask the ladies here in the studio, when you think back and this could be any pregnancy that you’ve had, overall, do you feel like you did a pretty good job with having a healthy body image or is this something that you struggled with? Rachel, what do you think?

RACHEL HARRIS: Well, I think to form the very first trimester it was a little astounding to me but, you know the second I peed on the stick my pants didn’t fit, so it was like “Oh that was fast” But after I kind of got over that, I just went to the store, got some bigger pants and I was totally happy to gain that extra weight. I knew it wasn’t from eating cupcakes and bon bon’s and fries, you know, so, I was very conscious about the foods I was eating because it was not only nourishing myself but now nourishing my growing baby, so I just feel like, really if you are eating the things that are best for you, for your baby, that weight that you are going to gain is necessary weight, and it’s healthy weight and it comes off when the baby comes out

ANNIE LAIRD: See I think I knew that academically. I knew that in my mind, my emotions were different, different thing all together. And I think some of it too, had to do with my profession at that time, you know, I was in the navy, and I guess this pregnancy, this third pregnancy where I’m no longer active duty, I’m just around navy people, you know, there’s some harsh comments, you know and I don’t think that being around kind of this tough martial environment, people think it’s okay to just say whatever is on their mind, you know and especially when it’s active duty it was a lot of pressure, it felt like you have to look a certain way.

Which is totally unrealistic when you are pregnant and growing a human being. So, that was very hard for me emotionally, you know, I could be told “Oh”, it might even be a backhanded comment of like “Well, wow Annie you look great, you know, so much better than, you know, lieutenant so and so who gained 60 pounds, gosh, she looks awful but you look great and then I would go home and go “Do I really look great?” I don’t know, you know, was he, you know, I know he meant that well but it doesn’t make me feel any better, you know, so what, if he’s saying that about her, are other people saying that type of thing about me? So, that was very hard for me

SUNNY GAULT: Lindsay, how important it is to have a healthy body image during pregnancy?

LINDSAY STENOVEC: I would say it’s crucial. It’s a really sensitive time your body is going thru a lot of changes and your life is going to be going thru a lot of changes as well especially post-delivery. And so, being able to have a positive sense of self, you know, accepting both parts of your body that you’re not crazy about and accepting parts of your body that you are crazy about. That it is normal to not love every single piece of the changes that you experienced in pregnancy, but there’s a very big difference between, having some pieces that you don’t care for but it doesn’t change the way you feel about yourself or it influence your quality of life. So when it does become overwhelming and it is influencing your quality of life and it is influencing the way you are going about self-care and your pregnancy, you know that’s when it’s even more of a concern of course

SUNNY GAULT: Yeah you know, I think you bring up a really good point in that it’s not we have to like everything about what’s happening to us it’s that we have to accept it, You know and not try to fight it. And I think you know sometimes when you think about having a healthy body image we think I have to love everything, and I’ll all tell you right now ladies there’s a lot of stuff happening with my body than I do not love. You know when I look down I’d be like “Oh My Gosh where are those ankles coming from?” Those cankles, you know or where the spider veins? What’s going on there? Or you know, just looking in a full body mirror whatever as I’m getting into the shower I’m like “Ohh, well the belly’s cute but, man I don’t want to check out what’s happening on the back, you know. But then, I know, I know, okay, A this is temporary and B I’m growing two human beings right now, you know, so I think we have to give ourselves, you know, to cut ourselves a little bit of slack and I think that’s an important distinction to make because you don’t have to love everything you just have to understand the process and not be so hard on yourself.

Why do you think that we are so hard on ourselves? You know we tend to blame everything on the media maybe that is rightfully so but I mean in your professional opinion you know, why do we beat ourselves up so much?

LINDSAY STENOVEC: I think there’s no doubt that there is an influence culturally and you know from the media there’s no doubt about that. I think that culturally it’s women, you know, it can be common place to body bash and fat talk and you know kind of get carried away with each other in talking about our latest diets and different body image issues and get kind of carried away and that way it almost becomes so normal that we think it, that it is normal.

They are so common that it is normal and that it’s okay and that we do have to kind of deal with that and live that way but we don’t. You know, like you said we can learn to accept the pieces that we like and don’t like and also feeling okay about talking about what’s difficult about that so instead of kind of on the surface and we’re talking about everything that we hate, talking about really what’s difficult about the changes that we’re experiencing, and that’s okay too and not feeling bad, about feeling bad about your body. Right! Because that creates, you know generates more shame and guilt

RACHEL HARRIS: Yeah, it’s nice to have support in that, I mean because anybody who’s ever been pregnant knows that this is just a part of it, something you go through so having friends, family, even your husband, you’re like “I don’t like my cankles, but I can’t change them” and it really does come back to acceptance but it is hard not only from the media, not even from necessarily people you are talking to but maybe you see another pregnant woman at the store and she looks so much cuter than you. Or how come her arms aren’t getting fat like mine and how is it all just staying right there? Who are these people? At the same time they have no control over that so it’s putting our own, you know, we’re projecting our own insecurities and then they’re getting fortified to just on a day to day basis not even just in media but just from somebody walking down the street

ANNIE LAIRD: There’s a great part in the movie What to expect when you’re expecting, and there’s two characters and one of them has every pregnancy-related symptom that you can possibly have and then the other one is her, I don’t know, it was like her husband’s stepmom or something but she’s actually younger than she is, like she’s like 25 or something and you know, this other woman was like 35. But anyway, so, she visits her at her store basically the one with all the symptoms. And as she’s walking out, her, the store owner and the assistant are looking, and they’re going “She’s seven months pregnant and she’s wearing six inch heels, she’s like a pregnancy unicorn” like no cellulite, no nothing, but you know

SUNNY GAULT: Some mythical creature

ANNIE LAIRD: Exactly. And then we do that we look at these other women and go “Gosh” you know.

SUNNY GAULT: And it’s hard

ANNIE LAIRD: It is very hard. I had a friend whose husband is stationed in Japan right now, and she’s spoken about that and again, people don’t want, especially in their culture you don’t want to shame anyone or make anyone feel bad, but, she will be twenty weeks pregnant and they assumed that she’s full term because on a whole Japanese women just don’t get as big as American women do. It’s not advised for them. I gained 45 pounds consistently, each pregnancy and it comes off, it does. And that’s not something that my care providers concerned about. I’m very fit and very healthy and I eat well during my pregnancies but that same you know when they moved to Japan, where my friend is that would be very much scrutinized so it seemed like different country to country and culture to culture as you were saying

LINDSAY STENOVEC: Absolutely. Every woman carries differently and every woman has a different body type period. And in that includes in pregnancy and we have to kind of challenge that the immediate reactions that we have too and that we see a woman who looks different and automatically our reaction is “Oh maybe that’s better than the way that I look” and my pregnancy or she is carrying better where did we get that message? How did we develop that belief that one is better than the other when that’s not the case, you know and I do think or course media does play into that. We hear these messages all the time either someone gained too much weight or didn’t get enough weight

ANNIE LAIRD: Poor Kim Kardashian. I feel bad for her I mean, I don’t like her at all. As a human being, as a pregnant human being that was awful, what she had to deal with it really was then she mentioned afterward how hurtful those comments were in the tabloids. I mean how could they not be?

RACHEL HARRIS: And you know what? Something else that I think, the body image issues stem from our certain care providers. In my classes we talk about nutrition heavily throughout my series and I always get at least 2 to 3 moms who aren’t really necessarily maybe buying what I’m saying because their doctor told them that they shouldn’t gain over 25 to 30 pounds. Or they went to their last appointment and their doctor waived them and they say “I don’t want you to gain any more weight ‘till your next appointment”. Which is just lunacy. I went with my son Levi, I was doing a planned home birth but I did dual care with an OBGYN for a few appointments just to do my labs and stuff. And one day I went in for just a normal appointment and it was raining. And I had jeans, leather boots, knee high wool socks, top scarf and a wool jacket, and they weighed me in everything that I was wearing.

So I go into the appointment, doctors looking over my chart, and he’s like “Wow, you have gained a lot of weights since your last appointment” no joke and I was wet, it was raining. They told me I had gained a lot of weight, and then told me he didn’t want me to gain more than 2 pounds until he saw me next. He wasn’t going to see me for almost a month and a half. How was that even possible? And these are, you know, fairly decent providers in the area that are giving these recommendations to women. And did he once tried to talk to me about my diet, did he once try to bring up anything that had to do with nutrition? And “Oh what are you eating, tell me about your habits, how was your lifestyle?” No, nothing, just don’t do that. Number on the scale. Horrible! Yeah.

LINDSAY STENOVEC: That’s very common and I think there’s a lot of pressure on doctors to discuss weight with pregnant women and with clients in general right now I think. But at the end of the day, it’s how you’re taking care of yourself that matters most and when a medical provider is telling a woman, I don’t want you to gain too much weight or I don’t want you to gain anymore weight, what’s a woman to do?

I mean we’re living in a dieting culture and dieting is probably going to be the first thing that that woman turns to, to try and control that, how else are you going, and actually dieting pregnant and the non-pregnant actually leads to more weight gain in the end and it’s extremely unhealthy for your pregnancy, for your baby, for you, for your emotional well-being. So really being able to take that information and apply it to your own life and kind of and even share, you know, well I’m curious because these are the things I’m doing, do you really think that that is harmful or do you think I maybe just you know gaining a little bit of more weight, because that’s just the way I am

SUNNY GAULT: What Lindsay would you say or some of the common warning signs for women who have an unhealthy body image like, because, I mean, I think we all kind of go through some self-doubt, but that doesn’t mean that we have an unhealthy body image, so what would you say is that defining line or what’s the criteria we should be looking for?

LINDSAY STENOVEC: Sure, sure, so, a significant increase in negative thoughts, feeling consumed and overwhelmed by the negative thoughts about your body, changes and your eating, your exercise and response to feeling badly about your body or weight, missing social activities due to body dissatisfaction, our feeling like you need to miss social activities to go work out instead, feeling pressured to do that, and any severe mood changes that you’re noticing. Feeling uncomfortable with your body, you get on the scale and you notice a change in your mood as a result. So those are just some, are the kind of red flags that you want to pay attention to

SUNNY GAULT: Okay. Thank you. When we come back, we’ll discuss how having a healthy body image can improve your pregnancy and even the childbirth experience you have plus what are some of the most common fears women have about their pregnant bodies and how can we overcome them. We’ll be right back.

[Theme Music]

SUNNY GAULT: Welcome back, today we’re discussing how to have a healthy body image during pregnancy and I totally I spelled your name wrong, what is it Stenovac now, suddenly your name was changed. Okay I’m going to try this again.

Welcome back, today we’re discussing how to have a healthy body image during pregnancy and Lindsay Stenovac, our Registered Dietitian is our special expert today, so, Lindsay, how can having a healthy body image lead to a better pregnancy and even a childbirth experience?

LINDSAY STENOVEC: Great question. I mean, as we’ve been discussing there are so many changes that a woman is experiencing as she, you know, experiences pregnancy and heads towards the delivery, childbirth. And there are a lot of places to focus your energy during that time. You know, planning for self-care or plans for the type of delivery and birth experience that you want. Plan for after the baby, your feeding strategies, your parenting, there’s so much to focus on. It can actually, you know focusing on negative thoughts about the body or your weight can actually, you know of course it’s placing energy in an area where is not probably very effective or helpful but actually it can just be a distraction in terms of, you know, when we feel overwhelmed when we’re having a hard time tolerating a lot of change or negative emotions that can be very easy to focus on things like weight and body image so sometimes it really is about the weight and body image and sometimes it’s about underlying things and so really challenging that too. It’s important that you can make room for all of the, all of the new things coming to you with pregnancy and childbirth

SUNNY GAULT: So ladies here on the studio, how did your perception of your body? How do you think that impacted your previous pregnancies or even the childbirth experience?

RACHEL HARRIS: I think birth in itself takes a lot of confidence, and a lot of security, especially planning for the type of birth that I had planned for home birth. So you really have to have that security within yourself and if you have negative body image, really negativity surrounding anything but especially having to deal with the body that created the baby that’s going to have to birth the baby and do the work, the body that you’re relying on for this whole process. If you are beating that up to probably not going to end very well, and that can inhibit your labor progression, it could really destroy your whole vision of the birth that you have been seeking. So it’s really important to have that piece. At the end of the day, that acceptance and that gratefulness to your body for allowing you to grow a baby and put that belief in yourself

ANNIE LAIRD: For me I think it’s still moreover on the breastfeeding relationship particularly with my first born because I didn’t have a lot of confidence or if I did have confidence it was lot of probador, but you know deep inside myself I knew how I really felt about how my body was changing. So to hear something like, you know, and again my husband didn’t mean it in a mean way but I know he was scared after I gave birth and I look like I was still six months pregnant, so that hurt deeply, and then to go from okay, well I had this birth that was really kind of tough and not what I expected and then to go into now this body the one that I have been badmouthing, you know, deep down has to provide for and feed this other human being and so it really I think took away a lot of confidence of do I really know what the heck I know with breastfeeding.

No, I have no idea because I took childbirth classes and do breastfeeding classes and check out three-hour class or something like that and I’m like “Oh it just seems so easy, so natural” well just because it’s natural doesn’t mean that it’s easy, yes

SUNNY GAULT: What would you guys say, I’m just going to open this up to everybody here so just kind of shout some stuff out as it comes to mind. What do you think are some of the most common fears or issues that women have with their bodies when they’re pregnant?

RACHEL HARRIS: That they’re never going to go back

ANNIE LAIRD: Absolutely, number one, I think so, you now I was like this cute size you know whatever you know, pick a number, size 2, size 6, size 10, you know, whatever you were and that you’re body isn’t going to snap back. So, and then it’s hard, when you’re an experienced mom of like “Hey the size may go back but your body is forever changed”

SUNNY GAULT: And that’s scary to hear I think is a first-time mom too. Because you’re like “Well, how? How is it going to change?” it’s like “I’m used to, when I’m used to” right? And I think one thing, after I had my first son, I was all about getting back into shape afterward, I was like “Okay, I am going to beat the odds. I’m going to do whatever” And I talk to someone who is helping me, that kind of like a physical trainer, whatever, personal trainer, and she said “You know, you’re body is never going to be the same but it can even be better, it can be better” and that was the first time I heard someone approach it from that angle like “How? I just had this huge baby, like how can it be better” But I think that’s really empowering to hear is that it’s okay if it’s different, and I think it’s even okay to be scared when you don’t know what that different means, but to know that it can be better in a lot of different ways, life, in general, can be better in a lot of ways, it’s important to hear

RACHEL HARRIS: I was in the best, was, was in the best shape in my life, years ago.

ANNIE LAIRD: Thank you Galilee

RACHEL HARRIS: Thanks! No, after I had her, I start working out, I don’t know, maybe a few months later as I go I should probably do something to have energy she is good to go. So, I actually sign up with stroller strides and that was amazing. I was in the best shape I had ever been in my entire life and I was only going 2 maybe 3 days a week, but I feel like just having a really positive attitude and bringing her with me was great and having all these moms that were also supportive, who also had the body changes so we can gripe about it as we’re doing abs like “This is ridiculous, I didn’t used to have this before when I was crunching” like you’re planking and you have no control over the bottom half, so, I think body image really just is one of those things that never goes away, it’s just always evolving

ANNIE LAIRD: I’ve done stroll strides as well, it’s so great to bring your kids with you to work out. Not even having that like specific conversation pulling aside my eight-year-old and saying “Let’s talk about body image today”. I don’t think that’s nearly as effective as mom not badmouthing, for me, Annie Laird, not badmouthing my body, you know talking positively about my body, you know, and not that I’m have to go happy go lucky about it all the time but, you know, Hey! I’m making good food choices. There’s things that I like to change, and these aren’t bad things but I just want to live in a healthier way so this is why I cook the certain way that I do and this is why I take the time away from you to go and exercise and to put a more positive or at least a neutral focus on it, I feel, you know and I don’t have any sons so I have three daughters so I feel very strongly with my daughters about building that off so that they, I model that behavior for them

RACHEL HARRIS: A hundred percent, definitely

SUNNY GAULT: Lindsay, are there other things, are there big issues that women struggle with that we haven’t talked about here as far as body image is concerned, big fears?

LINDSAY STENOVEC: I think you’ve all brought up some really common things that I hear from clients that I worked with and probably the one that Annie just mentioned is one of the biggest ones, as a dietitian I end up working with moms on with just the fear that, you know, I know what it’s like to have a poor body image and the last thing I want from my daughter or my son, you know, is to have an unhealthy body image and how do I model that if I’m having trouble internalizing at myself. So, I think that that’s really important to bring up and important to recognize that there is an influence that can be had and it’s not to make moms feel like there’s one more thing that they have to be responsible for or do feel badly about but more from an empowering perspective that this is a time where you know we can choose to pass something else down that maybe different that maybe what was passed on us or you know how we’ve lived

SUNNY GAULT: So, Lindsay do you have any tips for women who are trying to improve their body image, just to have an overall, you know, healthier thought or opinion of themselves, like what tips would you have for them?

LINDSAY STENOVEC: Absolutely. First and foremost something we’ve been discussing is acceptance, accepting that things are going to change and having a clear understanding of what might be changing so talking to other women that you trust in your life of what pregnancy was like for them and what are some body changes that you can expect and feel ready for instead of having a kind of blind side you, you know, with something that women don’t always talk about when it comes to change in pregnancy. Setting boundaries with loved ones, you know, what is comfortable for you again, touching, talking, what types of comments, you feel okay and which ones don’t.

Getting rid of those tabloids, a lot of women like to read those but there are studies that look at sense of body image and worth in women that read those before and after and it does decrease for a lot of women and so, you know, as hard as it is, decrease in use of that and surrounding yourself with more positive media which I can provide some links on the website when this is posted. Using your body to give you information about how much food you need, intuitive eating if anyone is interested as a great resource, mindful eating resources are helpful, finding movement that you enjoy and isn’t just used to lose weight, you know the movement that we truly enjoy isn’t always the same thing as the movement that we do to lose weight and that’s really important because movement is you know, helpful for mood management, decreasing postpartum depression or any depression for that matter, helping with emotion regulation, it’s just helping your body actually heal from the birth, so that’s really important too. And getting rid of the scale.

If you need to monitor your weight in the pregnancy, let your doctor do it and let them know that unless your doctor feels very strongly that there is a health issue in respect to your weight gain or lack thereof that they will bring that up and finding a medical practitioner that respects your boundaries in that way as well and can listen to you

SUNNY GAULT: So when you’re at your prenatal appointment, you know, when you have to step on the scale and do all this lovely stuff, sometimes I just look away, sometimes it’s just you know what today? I don’t really need to know what that scale says

ANNIE LAIRD: I’ve had friends who have just turned their back to the number and said “I don’t want to know” This past pregnancy it’s a clockwork for me a certain week that I was have the meltdown to my medical care provider, of just like “Oh I just can’t deal with this number in the scale” This past pregnancy I just stopped worrying myself and that was an agreement that my midwife and I made with each other and said “Okay, you know, you were part of the contract is that you were going to stop with the ice cream” which was killer, “that you’re going to eat healthy and then in exchange you don’t have to weight yourself anymore” you know “and I’ll monitor you” and she’s like “I can tell through your blood pressure, through any swelling, just with your overall look if you’re keeping up your end of your deal” and so, I think that’s a little unusual of like, being able to work out something with a care provider saying “I just don’t want to weigh myself anymore, I’m not going to do it”

RACHEL HARRIS: You know I think that’s one of the best things my mom ever did is we never had a scale in our house. I’ve never grown up weighing myself, I’ve never grown up seeing my mom fix say over what number she was. I, the only time I’ve ever get weighed is if I go to the doctor which is usually only when I’m pregnant and I really hold no stock in what number my body is.

ANNIE LAIRD: It can hold its power over you, I mean, I had a, an ex sister-in-law, she weigh herself in the morning and the evening.

RACHEL HARRIS: I would go crazy. I would go crazy.

SUNNY GAULT: What? Daily.

ANNIE LAIRD: Twice daily.


RACHEL HARRIS: I had friends like that, they wake up, they pee, they weigh themselves.


RACHEL HARRIS: It’s insane.

ANNIE LAIRD: That’s what I was doing so like I got so nuts about it that and that’s what lead to the conversation with my midwife was what I was doing was I would get up, I would pee, you know, I would, because with a homebirth midwife you weigh yourself, they don’t weigh you and there’s no nurse there to do that. So, yeah, she found out that I was waking up in the morning I was peeing I got took on my neck gown and I weighed and that was my weight because I knew that was my lowest weight and it was driving me, it wasn’t healthy, it wasn’t healthy and it wasn’t fostering a good relationship of the strength that my body needed in order to have a homebirth. So we just get rid of that aspect and had focused more on nutrition

LINDSAY STENOVEC: Yeah, that’s definitely a red flag for women if they are feeling they need to weigh everyday or twice a day that that is a huge red flag. And if any of the things that I’ve mentioned feel difficult to accomplish or even just think about moving towards finding you know a therapist or a dietitian that specializes in this area to just talk to someone is really important too

SUNNY GAULT: Okay, well thank you Lindsay for joining us today. For more information about our expert and our panelist you can visit the episode page on our website. This conversation continues for members of our Preggie Pals Club. After the show we’ll discuss ways friends and family can help to help you improve your overall image your body image both during and after pregnancy.

For more information about our club, visit

[Theme Music]

SUNNY GAULT: Well we always love to hear from our listeners, I want to read to you guys a question from one of our listeners. This comes from Mary, and she wrote us on our facebook page. Mary says:

“I need some advice on how to better communicate with my husband, all we do was snap at each other. I’ve been asking for his help to get the baby’s room ready for months and yet very little gets done. It’s frustrating when guests come to visit and they ask why the crib gets etcetera all lying on the floor and how they can help. Can you offer any advice and how I can get through to him.”

Well Mary we decided to ask our resident dad psychologist Dr. Danny Singley

DR. DANNY SINGLEY: Hi Mary! My name is Dr. Dan Singley and I’m a clinical psychologist specializing in men’s issues with a particular emphasis in new fatherhood. That’s actually not all that uncommon and particularly your dad to be, hesitant about getting involved with putting together the baby room and so on. It’s likely to be certain personal of, of a larger sense provider concerning anxiety or just feeling overwhelmed and not sure where to start. That relates to communication and I’ll come back to that, just a second. One of the things that most commonly will sort of snap dad’s to be out of that space is to start doing some of the will concrete planning for the birth so things like going and taking the hospital tour really gets ahead in the game about okay we’re going to be doing this here very shortly I got to get ready for it.

Similarly sitting down and doing a birth plan about you know when we’re ready to go, here’s where we’re going to go, here’s what we’re going to do they will also draw into very sharp relief that this is going to happen and there are some steps for him to take. Now all that said, in case maybe that that’s just not his role in the putting together of the baby gear itself isn’t really how I see his role and we might be then just to explore clear waters some other way like maybe get him involved in helping to that pediatrician or to look at other ways that you can help provide for your intending bundle of joy.

Back to the communication point, generally speaking I recommend working on how to communicate assertively, in common usage of assertive communication and as aggressive but it’s not. Assertive means working very hard to understand and to be understood which means active listening and all those other skills that you learn and what that looks like is instead of going on the ascend or sort of falling on your sword you can use a very straightforward technique which is like this, it’s a template: “When you do (blank), blank has to be an observable behavior, then I feel (blank), and this blank has to be a feeling word. Final part is “And in the future I wish that you would (blank)”, and again, this has to be a concrete observable behavior.

And so in your sense it might look like sitting down and say “Hi honey when you don’t agree to put the crib together, I feel frustrated and concerned about your interest in being a father and a partner to me and in the future when asked you to put together I would really appreciate it if you would do so”, something along those lines it keeps the communication straightforward, a number of other things that you can do. Google assertive communication techniques and you’re likely to find some ways. Hope this information has been helpful and good luck in your journey towards parenthood.

[Theme Music]

SUNNY GAULT: That wraps up our show for today, we appreciate you listening to Preggie Pals, don’t forget to check out our sister shows Parent Savers, for parents with newborns, infants and toddlers. The Boob Group for moms who breastfeed their babies, and Twin Talks for parents of multiples. Next week, we’re getting the 411 on pregnancy ultrasounds. This is Preggie Pals, your pregnancy, your way

This has been a New Mommy Media production. Information and material contained in this episode are presented for educational purposes only. Statements and opinions expressed in this episode are not necessarily those of New Mommy Media and should not be considered facts. Though information in which areas are related to be accurate, it is not intended to replace or substitute for professional, Medical or advisor care and should not be used for diagnosing or treating health care problem or disease or prescribing any medications. If you have questions or concerns regarding your physical or mental health or the health of your baby, please seek assistance from a qualified health care provider.


[End of Audio]

Love our shows? Join our community and continue the conversation! Mighty Moms is our online support group, with parenting resources and helpful new mom stories you won’t find anywhere else! You’ll also have a chance to be featured on our shows.

Become a Mighty Mom!