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.

Image source.

In This Article

    These are only the vitamins I give my children and here's why

    It's hard to say who loves these more—my kids or me.

    When I became a mama five years ago, I didn't put too much thought into whether my son was getting the right vitamins and minerals. From breastfeeding to steaming and pureeing his first bites of solid food, I was confident I was giving him everything to support his growth and development.

    But then the toddler years—and the suddenly picky palate that accompanied them—came along. Between that challenge and two additional children in the mix… well, I knew my oldest son's eating plan was falling short in some vitamin and mineral categories.

    I also knew how quickly he was growing, so I wanted to make sure he was getting the nutrients he needed (even on those days when he said "no, thank you" to any veggie I offered).

    So when I discovered the new line of children's supplements from Nature's Way®, it felt like a serious weight off my chest. Thanks to supplements that support my children's musculoskeletal growth, their brain function, their immune systems, their eyes and more, I'm taken back to that simpler time when I was so confident my kids' vitamin needs were met.*

    It wasn't just the variety of supplements offered by Nature's Way that won me over: As a vegetarian mama, I'm the picky one in the family when it comes to scanning labels and making sure they meet our standards. The trick is that most gummy vitamins are made with gelatin, which is not vegetarian friendly.

    But just like the other offerings from Nature's Way that I've already come to know and love, the children's supplement line is held to a high standard. That means there's no high-fructose corn syrup, gelatin or common allergens to be found in the supplements. The best part? My two oldest kids ensure we never miss their daily vitamins—they are so in love with the gummy flavors, which include tropical fruit punch, lemonade and wild berry.

    Nature's Way Kids Mulitvitamin

    Meanwhile, my pharmacist husband has different criteria when evaluating supplements, especially when it comes to those for our kids. He appreciates the variety of options from Nature's Way, which gives us the ability to rotate the vitamins based on our kids' daily needs. By keeping various children's supplements from Nature's Way on hand, I can customize a regimen to suit my kids' individual requirements.

    Of course, high-quality products often come at a higher price point. But (to my immense gratitude!) that isn't the case with Nature's Way, which retails for a competitive value when compared to the other items on the shelf.

    Like all mamas, my chief concern is supporting my children's health in any way I can. While I see evidence of their growth every time I pack away clothes they've outgrown, I know there is much more growth that doesn't meet the eye. That's why, for my oldest son, I like stacking the Brain Builder gummy with the Growing Bones & Muscles gummy and the Happy & Healthy Multi. My 3-year-old also enjoys getting her own mix to include the Healthy Eyes gummy. And both of my older kids are quick to request the Tummy Soothe tablet when something isn't sitting right in their stomachs.* And I'll admit it: I've tried it myself and the berry blast flavor really is tasty!

    Although my current phase of motherhood may not be as "simple" as it once was, there is so much to appreciate about it—like watching my kids play and sing and create with their incredible imaginations. Along the way, I've eased up on some of my need for control, but it does help to have this range of supplements in my motherhood tool kit. So while I may not be able to convince my son to try kale, having the Nature's Way supplements on hand means I do know he's right on track.*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

    This article was sponsored by Nature's Way. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

    Our Partners

    It’s science: Vacations make your kids happy long after they’re over

    Whether you're planning a quick trip to the lake or flying the fam to a resort, the results are the same: A happier, more connected family.

    Whether you're looking for hotels or a rental home for a safe family getaway, or just punching in your credit card number to reserve a spot in a campground a couple of states over, the cost of vacation plans can make a mom wince. And while price is definitely something to consider when planning a family vacation, science suggests we should consider these trips—and their benefits—priceless.

    Research indicates that family vacations are essential. They make our, kids (and us) happier and build bonds and memories.

    Keep reading Show less

    It's 2020, but for American mothers, it's still the 1950s

    Once a woman in America becomes a mother, our society transports her back in time. In an instant, generations of sexist ideas and structures descend back upon her.

    We like to think that women have come so far.

    We have our educations. Today, our education system not only allows girls to thrive, but it has enabled the first generation in history—Millennials—in which women are more highly educated than men.

    We have choice. Access to family planning has given American women life-changing control over their fertility and the decision to start a family.

    We have basic respect. Today, our marriages are built on the principle that partners are equal regardless of gender.

    We have careers. It's utterly common for a woman to return to work after having a child.


    We have acknowledgment. And our culture even declares that caregiving is essential work for both mothers and fathers.

    We have possibilities. And all of the potential our lives as women hold now gives girls the hope that anything is possible.

    But the truth is that American motherhood has the veneer of being modern, without any of the structures to support our actual lives today.

    Keep reading Show less