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4 min read

How To Deal with Body Dysmorphia During Pregnancy

You don't have to be a psychologist to know that pregnancy can certainly affect a person's body image. The process of being pregnant is the single most physically transformative thing that a person can go through.

Given that your body will look totally different after pregnancy than it did before, it would be strange if you didn't at least notice. For some women, though, their changing bodies can be the source of a lot of anxiety and distress.

Many pregnant women experience body image concerns during pregnancy. For some of these women, the concern grows to the point of a genuine clinical disorder. These cases are defined as body dysmorphia.

Let's explore the common occurrence of body image issues in pregnant women as well as the rarer condition of body dysmorphia. We'll also cover what women can do to ease distress related to body image during pregnancy.

Body Dysmorphia During Pregnancy Resources on This Page:

Body Dysmorphia Definition and Examples

How does body dysmorphia during pregnancy affect mental health?

What can pregnant women do to reduce distress related to body image?

Therapy for Body Dysmorphia During Pregnancy: Williamsburg Therapy Group

Body Dysmorphia Definition and Examples

There are two levels of body image concerns that can affect anyone, including pregnant women, which vary in severity.

First, there is a negative body image. This is usually characterized by some insecurity about a particular body feature or change. Typically, body image issues don't cause a particular disorder in one's life. While this should certainly be addressed professionally and can become worse over time if not, nearly everyone at one point or another will have body image issues.

The second type of body image concern is far more serious. Body dysmorphic disorder is a mental health condition characterized by a severe disorder in one's life caused by body image issues. Symptoms of body dysmorphia during pregnancy can include:

  • Hyperfixating on one or more details about one's body, often minor or imagined.
  • Exercising a dangerous amount
  • Trying dangerous and unproven procedures
  • Excessive cosmetic surgery
  • Severe anxiety and depression

Some pregnant women develop body dysmorphia around something pregnancy-related. For example, a woman may start to feel insecure about her growing stomach and, as a result, begin dieting. If this dieting goes too far and becomes dangerous for mother or child, it can be considered body dysmorphic.

Body dysmorphia must be diagnosed by a professional. While the condition cannot be cured, it can be treated with therapy and medication.

If you or someone you know is exhibiting the above symptoms, get in touch with a healthcare professional as soon as possible. With the right treatment, things can improve. Without any treatment, they can get much worse.

How does body dysmorphia during pregnancy affect mental health?

Body dysmorphia during pregnancy can have a negative impact on one's mental health. What started as an exciting process can develop into something that causes pain, which can be immensely discouraging.

Some women report feeling resentment for their baby or their partner due to how their body has changed during pregnancy.

It's of paramount importance to protect your mental health during pregnancy.

Pregnancy is a time of change, and change tends to bring stress. Better mental health means you are better equipped to handle that stress when it does boil up, making for a more harmonious pregnancy.

Being in a better mental health state during pregnancy means you are more likely to give your body and your baby's body what they need to be as healthy as possible.

That's why it's so important to treat body image issues or body dysmorphia if they arise. Failure to do so can result in self-destructive behaviors, resentment, and general distress.

What can pregnant women do to reduce distress related to body image?

The single best way to reduce distress associated with body image during pregnancy is to visit a therapist or other mental health professional. Home remedies and nonclinical approaches can be great, but talking to a licensed professional gives you the best odds at getting better.

Outside of seeing a professional, there are a number of ways a pregnant woman can reduce the distress they feel about their changing body during pregnancy.

Perinatal Yoga

If your obstetrician says its okay, consider trying to go to some perinatal yoga classes. The purpose of this can be twofold:

1.) Yoga can help you build positive mindfulness about your changing body.

2.) Yoga classes can be a great way to meet other pregnant women who can become a part of your social support system

Take Care of Your Physical Health

Physical health and mental health are very closely related. If you take care of your body, your mind often follows suit.

In the context of body image issues, making the right choices for your physical health can certainly ease the tension and distress you might feel about your changing body.

Try to Stop Comparing Yourself to Others

Obviously, this is easier said than done. Understand that you are on your own beautiful, complicated journey, and that this does not mean that yours is any worse than someone else's. You don't know what's going on behind the scenes in someone's life, especially if you only see what's on social media.

Instead, try to focus on your own journey: how you can improve it, how fun it is, and how beautiful the hard parts are.

Focus on The Amazing Process of Pregnancy

If you are feeling negative about your body during pregnancy, it can certainly help to focus on the positive.

The process of growing a human being inside your body is immensely complicated and, frankly, seems almost miraculous. Try to be proud of yourself for being a part of something so beautiful.

Therapy for Body Dysmorphia During Pregnancy: Williamsburg Therapy Group

If you feel you may have pregnancy-related body image issues or body dysmorphia, it's important to get help.

Williamsburg Therapy Group is home to Brooklyn's top perinatal psychology department, boasting several doctoral-level therapists who maintain a high level of expertise and availability for our community of mothers and mothers-to-be.

Give us a call, and our patient coordinator will help you find the right therapist for you. You can also book online using the button below.

Book a Therapy Session in Brooklyn Today

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