How I Gained Belly Confidence

Pregnancy can give you the gift of body acceptance, but why is it such a fleeting feeling?

How I Gained Belly Confidence

I’ve never been shy about showing skin. I think I’ve always been a bit of an exhibitionist, but it did not stem so much from a place of confidence as it did a way of inviting conversation about my body. Pre-pregnancy, I would wear tight or skimpy clothing so that I could judge from others’ reactions how I must really look because I was never quite sure of what the mirror was showing me. Am I heavier than last week? Thinner? The same? I never could tell. But all of that changed when I became pregnant. For the first time ever, I felt a body confidence that I had only ever imagined.


During both of my pregnancies, I spent way more time wearing string bikinis than I ever would have anticipated. I didn’t worry about sucking in, or looking bloated, and I never felt ashamed about my appetite. Getting bigger was what my body was supposed to be doing. My round belly was a sign of a healthy pregnancy. People applauded me when I had a second helping of whatever (“Eat! You’re growing a life inside of you!”) and they encouraged my joyful belly exhibitionism (“You go girl! Flaunt it!”). It felt wonderful to have so much support of this new body. If my pregnant body had a tagline, it would have been, “I don’t think you’re ready for this jelly.”

When I was pregnant with my first son, I was living by the beach at my husband’s grandmother’s house. Life was all about bikinis and inhaling tuna sub sandwiches with a side of salt and vinegar chips. I took weekly bikini selfies with my digital camera (this was pre iPhone) pointed at the oval mirror in our basement bedroom to document my growing belly. I loved finally having breasts for which a bikini top wasn’t purely ornamental. My stomach got so big that one would have thought I was incubating a baby goat. And since my belly had acquired that strange torpedo shape that befalls some of us lucky ladies, it appeared as if said goat was sitting in my belly in an upright position with all four of its hoofs sticking straight out.

Even with my funny belly shape, I loved how I looked. Sure, whenever people talked about my body (and people LOVE talking about pregnant bodies), I said all the appropriate and socially acceptable things about being “huge” and feeling like an ogre. Sometimes yes, I did feel that way, but more often than not, I felt gorgeous.

It wasn’t always easy watching the rest of me get bigger and bigger, but it was pretty exciting. Every morning brought a new discovery – a new stretch mark, a different shape to my belly, a darkening line across my skin that seemed to cut my belly in two. I felt like a butterfly who had the good fortune to emerge from her cocoon morning after morning, her wings a different color each time. There was so much thrill in this constant changing-ness.

I felt so good in my new skin there were days when I didn’t even bother with a cover up over my bikinis. My husband’s grandmother and I made quite the odd couple that summer – she would be wearing slacks and knit shirts and I would be running around mostly naked, with the unselfconscious abandon of a 5-year-old on the beach. Grandma’s friends from the synagogue or book group would drop by for visits and tea, and occasionally I would make a grand gesture toward decency and throw on a pair of booty shorts that may or may not have said, “Jesse’s Ass” on the back of them (Jesse being my husband’s name).

And then something terrible happened after I had my son, and I’d shed the baby weight: everything went back to the way it had been before. Guilt was the side dish at nearly every meal. Judgment faced me in the mirror when I stood, frowning, in jeans and a bra. I imagined people snickering as I walked through a restaurant, commenting on whatever I was wearing. Every night I would assess myself in a critical way: why wasn’t my stomach flat yet? Why did it hang over the tops of my jeans? And when would my grotesque c-section scar finally heal?

My pregnancies gave me the gift of body acceptance, but it was a fleeting gift both times. Pregnancy was like peeking into a fantasy world where people applaud weight gain, where big means healthy, and where eating more is not only a necessity – it is strongly encouraged.

Even when I look back at pictures of myself pregnant, I cannot help but force upon them my regular disordered thinking about my body. It is hard for me to see a pregnant beauty on the beach – more often than not I see someone who should have been wearing a sensible mu mu.

It is part of my daily work to try to bring some of the body confidence I had when I was pregnant into my everyday postpartum life. I want to encourage those who are in the middle of their pregnancies to really enjoy the freedom of joyfully getting bigger and to relish this time of profound growth. And then afterward, when the people around you are no longer trying to feed you, and when the other moms around you are moaning about their pants not fitting, to try not to dwell in negative body thoughts.

It is far too easy to be critical of our bodies, but we didn’t become mothers because we were expecting easy. One of the more difficult things we could do for ourselves after pregnancy is also one of the most kind: to look at our bodies and all the parts of it that may have shifted or changed from a place of acceptance.

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In This Article

    These challenges from Nike PLAYlist are exactly what my child needs to stay active

    Plus a fall family bucket list to keep everyone moving all season long.

    While it's hard to name anything that the pandemic hasn't affected, one thing that is constantly on my mind is how to keep my family active despite spending more time indoors. Normally, this time of year would be spent at dance and gymnastics lessons, meeting up with friends for games and field trips, and long afternoon playdates where we can all let off a little steam. Instead, we find ourselves inside more often than ever before—and facing down a long winter of a lot more of the same.

    I started to search for an outlet that would get my girls moving safely while we social distance, but at first I didn't find a lot of solutions. Online videos either weren't terribly engaging for my active kids, or the messaging wasn't as positive around the power of movement as I would like. Then I found the Nike PLAYlist.

    I always knew that Nike could get me moving, but I was so impressed to discover this simple resource for parents. PLAYlist is an episodic sports show on YouTube that's made for kids and designed to teach them the power of expressing themselves through movement. The enthusiastic kid hosts immediately captured my daughter's attention, and I love how the physical activity is organically incorporated in fun activities without ever being specifically called out as anything other than play. For example, this segment where the kids turn yoga into a game of Paper Scissors Rock? Totally genius. The challenges from #TheReplays even get my husband and me moving more when our daughter turns it into a friendly family competition. (Plus, I love the play-inspired sportswear made just for kids!)

    My daughter loves the simple Shake Ups at the beginning of the episode and is usually hopping off the couch to jump, dance and play within seconds. One of her favorites is this Sock Flinger Shake Up activity from the Nike PLAYlist that's easy for me to get in on too. Even after we've put away the tablet, the show inspires her to create her own challenges throughout the day.

    The best part? The episodes are all under 5 minutes, so they're easy to sprinkle throughout the day whenever we need to work out some wiggles (without adding a lot of screen time to our schedule).

    Whether you're looking for simple alternatives to P.E. and sports or simply need fun ways to help your child burn off energy after a day of socially distanced school, Nike's PLAYlist is a fun, kid-friendly way to get everyone moving.

    Need more movement inspiration for fall? Here are 5 ways my family is getting up and getting active this season:

    1. Go apple picking.

    Truly, it doesn't really feel like fall until we've picked our first apple. (Or had our first bite of apple cider donut!) Need to burn off that extra cinnamon-sugar energy? Declare a quick relay race up the orchard aisle—winner gets first to pick of apples at home.

    To wear: These Printed Training Tights are perfect for when even a casual walk turns into a race (and they help my daughter scurry up a branch for the big apples).

    2. Visit a pumpkin patch.

    We love to pick up a few locally grown pumpkins to decorate or cook with each year. Challenge your child to a "strongman" contest and see who can lift the heaviest pumpkin while you're there.

    To wear: Suit up your little one in comfort with this Baby Full Zip Coverall so you're ready for whatever adventures the day brings.

    3. Have a nature scavenger hunt.

    Scavenger hunts are one of my favorite ways to keep my daughter preoccupied all year long. We love to get outside and search for acorns, leaves and pinecones as part of our homeschool, but it's also just a great way to get her exercising those gross motor skills whenever the wiggles start to build up.

    To wear: It's not truly fall until you break out a hoodie. This cozy Therma Elite Kids Hoodie features a mesh overlay to release heat while your child plays.

    4. Have a touch-football game.

    Tip for parents with very little kids: It doesn't have to last as long as a real football game. 😂 In fact, staging our own mini-games is one of our favorite ways to get everyone up and moving in between quarters during Sunday football, and I promise we all sleep better that night.

    To wear: From impromptu games of tag to running through our favorite trails, these kids' Nike Air Zoom Speed running shoes are made to cover ground all season long.

    5. Create an indoor obstacle course.

    Pretending the floor is lava was just the beginning. See how elaborate your personal course can get, from jumping on the couch to rolling under the coffee table to hopping down the hallway on one foot.

    To wear: These ready-for-any-activity Dri-FIT Tempo Shorts are perfect for crawling, hopping and racing—and cuddling up when it's time to rest.

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

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    Tips parents need to know about poor air quality and caring for kids with asthma

    There are steps parents can take to keep their children as healthy as possible.

    When wildfires struck the West Coast in September 2020, there was a lot for parents to worry about. For parents of children with asthma, though, the danger could be even greater. "There are more than 400 toxins that are present in wildfire smoke. That can activate the immune system in ways that aren't helpful by both causing an inflammatory response and distracting the immune system from fighting infection," says Amy Oro, MD, a pediatrician at Stanford Children's Health. "When smoke enters into the lungs, it causes irritation and muscle spasms of the smooth muscle that is around the small breathing tubes in the lungs. This can lead to difficulty with breathing and wheezing. It's really difficult on the lungs."

    With the added concern of COVID-19 and the effect it can have on breathing, many parents feel unsure about how to keep their children protected. The good news is that there are steps parents can take to keep their children as healthy as possible.

    Here are tips parents need to know about how to deal with poor air quality when your child has asthma.

    Minimize smoke exposure.

    Especially when the air quality index reaches dangerous levels, it's best to stay indoors as much as possible. You can find out your area's AQI at An under 50 rating is the safest, but between 100-150 is considered unhealthy for sensitive groups, such as children with asthma. "If you're being told to stay indoors, listen. If you can, keep the windows and doors closed," Oro says.

    Do your best to filter the air.

    According to Oro, a HEPA filter is your best bet to effectively clean pollutants from the air. Many homes are equipped with a built-in HEPA filter in their air conditioning systems, but you can also get a canister filter. Oro says her family (her husband and children all suffer from asthma) also made use of a hack from the New York Times and built their own filter by duct taping a HEPA furnace filter to the front of a box fan. "It was pretty disgusting what we accumulated in the first 20 hours in our fan," she says.

    Avoid letting your child play outside or overly exert themselves in open air.

    "Unfortunately, cloth masks don't do very much [to protect you from the smoke pollution]," Oro says. "You really need an N95 mask, and most of those have been allocated toward essential workers." To keep at-risk children safer, Oro recommends avoiding brisk exercise outdoors. Instead, set up an indoor obstacle course or challenge your family to jumping jacks periodically to keep everyone moving safely.

    Know the difference between smoke exposure and COVID-19.

    "COVID-19 can have a lot of the same symptoms—dry cough, sore throat, shortness of breath and chest pain could overlap. But what COVID and other viruses generally cause are fever, chills, vomiting, diarrhea and body aches. Those would tell you it's not just smoke exposure," Oro says. When a child has been exposed to smoke, they often complain of a "scrape" in their throat, burning eyes, cough, shortness of breath, chest pain or wheezing. If the child has asthma, parents should watch for a flare of symptoms, such as coughing, wheezing or a tight sensation in their chest.

    Unfortunately, not much is known about long-term exposure to wildfire smoke on a healthy or compromised immune system, but elevated levels of air pollution have been associated with increased COVID-19 rates. That's because whenever there's an issue with your immune system, it distracts your immune system from fighting infections and you have a harder time fighting off viruses. Limiting your exposure to wildfire smoke is your best bet to keep immune systems strong.

    Have a plan in place if you think your child is suffering from smoke exposure.

    Whatever type of medication your child takes for asthma, make sure you have it on-hand and that your child is keeping up with regular doses. Contact your child's pediatrician, especially if your area has a hazardous air quality—they may want to adjust your child's medication schedule or dosage to prevent an attack. Oro also recommends that, if your child has asthma, it might be helpful to have a stethoscope or even a pulse oximeter at home to help diagnose issues with your pediatrician through telehealth.

    Most importantly, don't panic.

    In some cases, social distancing and distance learning due to COVID may be helping to keep sensitive groups like children with asthma safer. Oro says wildfires in past years have generally resulted in more ER visits for children, but the most recent fires haven't seen the same results. "A lot of what we've seen is that the smoke really adversely affects adults, especially older adults over 65," Oro says. "Children tend to be really resilient."

    This article was sponsored by Stanford Children's Health. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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    Mama, all I see is you

    A love letter from your baby.


    I can't see past you right now, I'm so small and everything's a little blurry.

    All I see is you.

    When you feel alone, like the walls are closing in, remember I'm here too. I know your world has changed and the days feel a little lonely. But they aren't lonely for me.

    You are my everything.

    When you feel like you don't know what you're doing, you're making it look easy to me. Even though we're still getting to know each other, you know me better than anyone.

    I trust you.

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