On Loving your Body Pre-Pregnancy
By Esther Corrigan
No sooner had I gotten engaged than the article advertisements started popping up: “Love your postpartum body!’ The more I read the same well-meaning message re-hashed in different words, the more I started to think, I can do that! If my body has gone through childbirth and produced a tiny human being it deserves to be loved and appreciated! Who cares if I’m bearing stretch marks and excess skin as war wounds left from 9 months of internal weight training? They’re reminders of the strength that took and the gift I got out of it! So what if my abs don’t ping back into place (which, let’s be real, they probably won’t!)? When my body has borne new life, I’m going to be determined to be kind to it and not critical.
Except that it hasn’t yet. So why is it ok for me to be unkind and unaccepting now?
In my head, baby-bearing becomes an excuse to love myself. When I’ve given birth I’ll be justified in being a real woman, with curves and quirks and folds. Then, I tell myself, I’ll be fine with having a belly – I’ll love it even! Yet right now, any protrusion more than a centimeter thick and I curse my stomach, hide it under as many layers as I can, and dash to the gym to punish it until it’s deemed flat.
But why am I waiting until pregnancy to start loving my body? Perhaps more importantly, if I can’t love my body now, how do I think that will miraculously change then?
Well, alongside those article ads about the so-called baby body I can expect, I’m bombarded with not-so-subtle hints to slim down for the gown, find the perfect pre-wedding diet or exercise regime, and get in shape now to avoid being disgusted by my own wedding photos. Where are the self-love mantras when there’s no birthing plan in sight? Somehow we have a double standard that says: Baby? Cherish flaws! No baby? Banish flaws? It’s as if loving my body later is a reward for perfecting it now.
Let’s be real: a baby isn’t a trophy to prove that a man once loved my body enough to make a baby with it. A baby is the miraculous result of the love shared between my body and his and God’s gift to us. The fact that my body is even capable of that should be enough for me to be in awe of it even now! And it is! My body, THIS body, is capable of creating a whole new person!
As I enter marriage open to life, I’m (God-willing) going to have to adapt to a changing body some day. But despite those changes, that body will still be the one I’ve already got. Learning to love it with all its postpartum differences begins now, with learning to stand up to my pre-pregnancy perfectionism.
So here’s the deal: if you’re postpartum and your body feels foreign, pray for the grace to love it. Your body is worthy of love! If you’re still a way off pregnancy and you’re feeling the pressure of body perfection, pray for the grace to love it. Your body is worthy of love too! Because at the end of the day your body will always be the one God gave you to cherish, and pre-baby or post-baby, He says there’s no flaw in you anyway.
P.S. You are enough.