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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Motherhood is a practice in learning, growing and loving more than you ever thought possible. Even as a "veteran" mama of four young sons and one newly adopted teenager, Jalyssa Richardson enthusiastically adapts to whatever any given day has in store—a skill she says she's refined through the years.

Here's what just one day in her life looks like:

Jalyssa says she learned to embrace agility throughout her motherhood journey. Here's more from this incredible mama of five boys.

What is the most challenging part of your day as a mom of five?

Time management! I want to meet each of the boys' individual needs—plus show up for myself—but I often feel like someone gets overlooked.

What's the best part of being a mom of five?

The little moments of love. The hugs, the kisses, the cuddles, the smiles... they all serve as little reminders that I am blessed and I'm doing okay.

Are there misconceptions about raising boys?

There are so many misconceptions about raising boys. I think the biggest one is that boys don't have many emotions and they're just so active all the time. My boys display many emotions and they also love to be sweet and cuddly a lot of the time.

What do you think would surprise people the most about being a mom of five?

How much I enjoy it. I never knew I wanted to be a mom until I was pregnant with my first. My desire only grew and the numbers did! I am surprised with every single baby as my capacity to love and nurture grows. It's incredible.

How do you create balance and make time for yourself?

Balance for me looks like intentional planning and scheduling because I never want my boys to feel like they aren't my first priority, but it is extremely difficult. What I try to do is not fit it all into one day. I have work days because motherhood is my first priority. I fit in segments of self-care after the kids' bedtime so I don't grow weary.

What's the biggest lesson you have learned from motherhood?

I have learned that sacrifice is actually beautiful. I was terrified of the selflessness motherhood would require, but I've grown so much through the sacrifice. There is nothing better than living for something bigger than myself.

When did you first feel like a mom? How has your motherhood evolved?

I first felt like a mom when I was pregnant with my first son and I intentionally chose to change my eating habits so my body could be strong and healthy for him. I didn't have to think twice—I just did what I thought would be best for him. That decision being so effortless made me realize I was made for motherhood.

My perspective has changed with each baby as I've realized motherhood doesn't have to be one-size-fits-all. With my first son, I was a by-the-book mama and it was so stressful. With each baby, I have felt more freedom and it has made motherhood so much more beautiful. I have evolved into the mother that they need, I am perfect for these boys.

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

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As mamas we want our babies to be safe, and that's what makes what happened to Glee actress Naya Rivera and her 4-year-old son Josey so heartbreaking. Late Wednesday night news broke that Rivera was missing and presumed drowned after her 4-year-old son, Josey, was found floating alone on a rented boat on Lake Piru in Ventura County, California.

According to the Los Angeles Times, Ventura County Sheriff's Department Capt. Eric Buschow said the mother and her preschooler were swimming near the boat Wednesday afternoon. Josey got back into the rented boat after the swim but his mother did not. The preschooler was later found by other boaters, sleeping alone in the boat. Rescuers were able to figure out who he was because Rivera's wallet and identification were on the boat.


Our hearts are breaking for Josey and his dad right now. So much is unknown about what happened on Lake Piru but one thing is crystal clear: Naya Rivera has always loved her son with all her heart.

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