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The surprising side effect of pregnancy that affects 65% of women

We spend so much of our lives in sole ownership of our bodies, nourishing them, working them and attempting to mold them in just the right way. Then: pregnancy.

From the moment those two cells begin to multiply, our bodies take on a new purpose for the next nine or so months. And while this can bring about its share of unfamiliar changes, it's an undeniably incredible process—with the added benefit of boosting body-confidence levels for many pregnant women.

In fact, 65% of expectant women say they feel "more confident and comfortable" with their bodies than they did before pregnancy, according to a new survey by Herbal Essences for the Pregnant Women Can campaign. What's more, just over the majority of the 1,500 mothers (both new and experienced) polled reported they still feel more confident with their postpartum bodies than they did before motherhood.

We deserve to take a moment to let that sink in: While pregnancy can bring about stretch marks, stubborn weight gain and redistribution of curves, the amazing thing is that for the majority of mamas, it also helps them feel better in their skin than ever before.

Additional survey results shine some light on why this could be. For one, pregnancy inspired 69% of women to eat healthier. It also caused 39% of expectant mamas to get more exercise. Plus the fact that 74% of women say they have the best hair of their lives during pregnancy doesn't hurt.

But that still doesn't seem to tell the full story. Rather, anecdotally, it seems pregnancy can help us feel better about our bodies because it is a big reminder about just how *amazing* they are. When recognized for its incredible purpose rather than just for the way it looks, it's so much easier to love our bodies—perceived imperfections and all.

As first-time expectant mama Stefania Sainato shared for Motherly, "Tracking my baby's progress each week has given me a newfound appreciation for the strength of the female body—beautiful in all its stages. There is something so liberating about focusing on the incredible feats it can accomplish instead of merely what it looks like on the outside."

While pregnancy may help put this into focus, it will forever and always feel true when you look at your growing child and remember just what an incredible role you—and your body—played in bringing theirs into being.

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