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Congratulations! With baited breath, you held the fateful plastic stick in your hand and saw the plus sign (or pink line or two lines) appear in the tiny viewing window. You smiled, you screamed, or you cried tears of joy.


Or maybe all three! You’re pregnant! Welcome to one of the most exciting journeys of your life!

But as your pregnancy progresses, and your body grows, and grows (and grows) many women start to struggle with their new shape. Perhaps you’ve already outgrown your pregnancy clothes. (We’ve been there.) Perhaps someone made some ill-advised comments about your size. (Just. Don’t.) Or perhaps you’re just struggling to recognize the new shape your body has taken. (We get it.)

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As you grow with your baby, it is essential that you revisit the self-love your messages that we explored earlier in Your Baby’s First Home: Why Now is the Time to Start Loving your Body. The relationship you have with your body is a critical component of a happy and healthy pregnancy, and a happy and healthy pregnancy is what we all hope and pray for.

As a mother of four, an eating disorder survivor, a fitness instructor for the past 20 years, a volunteer at an eating disorders recovery facility, and the author of “The Self-Care Solution, A Modern Mother’s Must-Have Guide to Health and Well-Being,” I am personally and professionally attune to the difficulties so many women face when it comes to loving and accepting their bodies.

But it is possible to love your body—and maybe you already do! (If so, congratulations again!)

But if you, like most women, feel a nagging dissatisfaction with your body, now would be a great time to deal with those feelings, as your body is changing and growing in incredible ways.

Assessing your level of body satisfaction is an important first step as you prepare for the changes that will occur in your body over the next nine months. Social pressures to be thin make it difficult for many women to accept their bodies to begin with, and in order for women to truly embrace their changing form throughout pregnancy, it takes extra large doses of self-love, as well as loving support from a partner or friend. If issues are not confronted, studies show that body image concerns may play a role in perinatal and postpartum depression.

It doesn’t have to be this way. The fact that a woman’s body changes during pregnancy is one of the essential realities of our nature as women. But that doesn’t always make it easy to accept when we don’t recognize the woman in the mirror, or we fret about how we will ever return the body we had before baby.

The following messages are essential reminders of how to make sure the lens in which you are viewing yourself is clear.

Repeat these mantras when you find yourself criticizing your shape, or obsessing over your weight gain—


1.My body is charged with a powerful mission—to house, feed, nurture, and protect my growing baby.

2. From a place of gratitude and self-respect, I will honor the changes in my body and treat my body with loving care.

3. My purpose is now twofold—I must take care of my body for my own health and well-being, and for the health and well-being of my growing baby (this message will be critical for you throughout your whole motherhood journey).—I will trust my body and feel grateful for its incredible ability to carry my child and feed my baby postpartum (if I so choose).

4. Pregnancy is a time for me to grow accustomed to “stretching” myself—my body, mind, and heart—none of which will ever be exactly the same as they were before entering the world of motherhood.

5. I will feel good about nourishing my body with nutrient-rich food and plenty of water, will exercise my body to keep my muscles and organs healthy and strong.

A photo posted by Cierra Joy (@itscierrajoy) on

6. I deserve to rest. I will make sure I get enough sleep for my health and my baby’s health.

7. With a deep sense of self-respect and self-love, I will be in tune with my body’s signals so I can decipher its needs. I will find joy in “eating for two” and resting more often than usual but will not use pregnancy as an excuse to disrespect my body by being over indulgent or self-defeating, which will most likely trigger feelings of shame.

8. I won’t become overly obsessed with the numbers on the scale but will listen to my doctor and heed her/his advice about taking good care of my body during pregnancy.

9. I will ask for emotional support from my partner or good friends when I need it.

10. If I am battling disordered eating or compulsive exercising, I will seek help from a professional so I do not cause harm to myself or my baby.

The bottom line is that your body needs to make some very big changes during pregnancy, and you can’t predict exactly how those changes will occur in your body, and what they will look or feel like.

But however your pregnancy journey unfolds, please be kind to your body—not only in the way you treat it but in the way you feel about it.

Be kind to yourself and understand the importance of loving and caring for your body during pregnancy is a great stepping stone for loving and caring for your body and yourself throughout motherhood.

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Baby's first birthday is right around the corner—how did that happen? It's understandable if you are feeling all the emotions right now. This is a major milestone for both of you, so while you're planning a celebration for your little one, you should also take this moment to applaud your accomplishments during this past year.

One year ago, you were probably daydreaming about these moments… and possibly slightly nervous about how you would manage. Look at you now, mama! But take a deep breath, because life is about to get even more exciting as your sweet little baby enters toddlerhood!

Here are a few of our favorite items for babies and mamas at the 11-month mark:

To cheer on first steps: Bright Starts rolling monkey

Bright Starts

It takes a lot of strength to get those little legs walking for the first time! Keep your baby encouraged as they gain stability with a new toy to chase down.

$12.89

For mess-free snacking: Munchkin snack catcher

Munchkin Snack Catcher

As your baby begins to work on supervised self-feeding, you'll start to find crumbs everywhere. That's why training snack cups are so brilliant: They prevent them from dumping all those snacks at once.

$4.95

For the first cake-cutting: Creative Converting first birthday party hat

birthday hat

Get your camera ready for that first birthday! Sure, the party hat may only stay on your toddler's head for a few minutes, but the pictures will be around to cherish for a lifetime.

$9.79

For those fine motor skills: Lamaze sorting toy

Lamaze toy

The fine motor development your baby is working on today will help with everything from playing instruments to writing with pencils and so much more later in life. Believe it or not, a simple sorting toy will help boost these foundational skills.

$9.99

For breastfeeding support: Honest Mama nip balm

Honest nip balm

If you are on a breastfeeding journey with your growing babe, you two probably are in a pretty good rhythm—but your tatas still deserve some TLC.

$14.99

For simple beauty touch-ups: Honest Beauty magic balm

Honest Beauty

It can still feel hard to find a spare moment for yourself throughout the day, but it also feels good to keep up with a beauty routine that is heavy on the self-care element. Enter: An incredible multi-purpose balm that can hydrate your lips, soothe cracked skin, tame flyaways and more.

$12.99

For whatever life throws at you: All In Motion anorak jacket

All in Motion

Motherhood is all about multitasking, and your clothing should be able to take you from one activity to the next. Thankfully, the amazingly stylish activewear on the market right now means you can feel good about a wardrobe stable that is able to multitask, too.

$40

For baby’s first cake: KitchenAid hand mixer

Kitchen Aid

If you've been pinning ideas for that first birthday cake since you gave birth, make those dreams a reality with an upgraded mixer you can use throughout the years. Not much of a baker? Visit Target Bakery for a free smash cake with the purchase of a specialty cake!

$49.99

For chasing that active baby: C9 Champion women’s knit sneakers

Champion Sneakers

You might be surprised by how quickly your toddling baby turns into a running baby. So lace up those shoes, mama!

$34.99

For your favorite photos: Project 62 wire clip collage

Project 62

How many pictures have you taken in the past year? We're betting it's a pretty high number, and at least a few of those deserve to be displayed in your home. Make it easy to swap them out with a frame that allows you to display multiple pictures at once.

$20

This article was sponsored by Target. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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They say a watched pot never boils, but every pumping mama knows the expression should really say "a watched bottle never fills."

When I think back to those early days of pumping, I remember settling in front of the TV to attempt to distract myself from the tedium of being hooked to a machine. It never worked: I'd always pay little attention to whatever I was watching, opting instead to stare at the bottles I was pumping into and wonder why they were filling so slowly.

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