I struggled with my body image for many many years, from about the age of 9 till my early twenties. I constantly compared myself. I didn’t feel at ease in my own skin. I had very low confidence and self-esteem. I’d hide behind long and baggy clothes. I used to look in the mirror and hate my reflection. There were days I wouldn’t even go out because I was ashamed of myself.
There are various reasons behind this which I won’t bore you about. Having gotten older and (hopefully) wiser through all the personal development work I have done, I now look back at pictures and I wonder why I put myself through so much pain and suffering. I wasn’t big and I wasn’t ugly either.
At about 22 years old, I travelled to Nepal and Peru and it opened my mind to different worlds and realities. I realised there was more to life than physical appearance. On my return, I moved from France to the UK to start a new life in a new place with a new job. That’s when things started to shift.
I knew that if I was going to give myself a new life, I needed to seriously work on letting go of the toxic beliefs I had been carrying around for years. It was an opportunity to start afresh. I wanted to feel alive. I wanted to feel whole. I wanted to feel confident and at ease with myself. I didn’t want to hide anymore.
I embarked on a journey of personal development. I am still on that journey. I don’t think it ever stops. There is always more to discover about ourselves, always more to explore to become a happier person.
For the past four years, I have practised Sophrology and this method has changed my life. I don’t love myself now but I feel grateful for the body that I have, I accept who I am and embrace my being fully. And I think that, maybe, in some ways, this is a sort of love.
Sophrology has changed my relationship with myself, on a physical, mental and emotional level. I now feel alive and whole. I am so grateful I went through this process before having children. I believe, that on some levels, babies pick up on scars and negativity held in the body and I didn’t want to pass this on, or as little as possible.
Accepting and getting friendly with my non-pregnant body was one thing. Embracing my ever-growing pregnant body was another one, challenging me a step further.
I am 29 weeks pregnant. My body has changed and keeps on changing every day. I have become spotty. I have flat hair. A few stretch marks are starting to appear. I am wider and rounder. Circulation doesn’t flow as easily in my legs. The list goes on.
But I am ok with it all.
Sophrology is now part of me so, inevitably, I am also practising during my pregnancy. It is helping me embrace the physical and emotional changes I am experiencing.
It is a very gentle method and it works by engaging both the body and mind through breathing, physical movements and visualisations.
I am learning to accept and love my pregnant body. Here is how:
I am rediscovering my body as if for the first time
Pregnancy has made me experience body sensations I had never felt before. My boobs have got bigger, my abdomen is growing fast, my balance is affected… my whole body as I knew it is changing. I am growing into a different woman. As I interact with friends, family and other people, I realise that the perception I have of my body is again different from their perception. Some days, I look huge to them, others, I look pretty small and oh ‘are you sure baby is ok’? It can be confusing and worrying. Sophrology is helping me put aside non only other people’s judgment on my pregnant body but also my own. Through movement and visualisations, I have started to look at my body differently, from a neutral perspective, as if I am discovering that I have a body for the very first time. As I approach all these changes with curiosity, I feel more amazed by it all rather than angry and grumpy that my body will never be the same again. I am giving myself the permission to embrace my body as it, accept it without comparing it to anyone else’s. It feels liberating and empowering.
I am acquiring a perception of my body that is much closer to reality. I feel that I am truly embodying it. I am deeply connected to the sense of vitality circulating throughout my body and this precious life I am growing inside me. I have let go of the false representation that I have of my body.
I am listening to my body’s needs:
The mindful movements and breathing help me gain a better awareness of all parts of my body. I am able perceive tiny sensations in my skin and my muscles. I can feel the blood flowing around my body. I have a heightened perception of all my systems, including my reproductive system, my uterus, my perineum which is going to greatly help release baby into the world during my labour. Through this awareness work, I am now able to spot straight away any signs of stress, tension and tiredness, any messages that my body is sending me about my state of health and wellbeing and I am able to slow down and take action before it gets worse, whether it’s getting more sleep, booking an appointment with the osteopath, eating more nutritiously, breathing more deeply or taking more breaks during the day.
I allow myself to be gentle and kind with my body and mind. These 9 months are a very precious time and I wish to give the best to my baby and this starts with listening to my body and looking after myself.
I trust my body’s wisdom:
For many years, I fought against my body, treating it as an enemy rather than a friend. The non-judgmental approach that I am adopting is making me feel deeply grateful and respectful of my body. Each and every cell in my body is busy working hard to create our perfect little boy and that is mind-blowing. I have learnt that my body knows best and if I listen closely enough, it has all the answers for me. I trust my its ability to take me through this journey and bring my baby safely into the world. My body is on my team and I have decided to work with it, not against it.
I am learning to relax into the process of growing my baby and accepting fully the physical changes that comes with it. When it comes to labour, I know that whatever happens on the day, I will be able adapt and I will follow my body’s wisdom. I know I can do it. A calm and positive mind in a relaxed body.
Through this rediscovery of my body, I have learnt to accept it and feel grateful for the amazing work it is doing for me and my baby. Through acceptance, I have learnt to respect my needs and love myself.
This pregnancy is a journey of inner and outer transformation. Life will never be the same again when baby is here. It will be hard at times and joyful at others. I am ready to embrace it.