I jumped out of the shower yesterday to grab my towel off of the rack and I was a little…ahem…bouncy.
I’ve got some serious stretch marks, and there isn’t anything that shea butter lotion, HOURS of running and a thousand crunches can do to help me.
I’m here for the long haul, and I have to learn to honor this new body of mine, whether that is temporary or permanent. Thankfully, we are living in a world that is starting to recognize the beauty in the female body: pre and postpartum!
Pregnancy (and childbirth) changes your body drastically, but you don’t need me to tell you that.
Postpartum body image is something that most of us struggle with.
Where you did not have stretch marks before, they are screaming at you now. Where your skin was tight before, you can hold a good portion of it in your hands now.
Things are very different, so let’s talk about how we should cope with our postpartum bodies.
1. STOP Using the Word “Fat”
Unless you are reading the facts on a nutrition label, keep that word out of your vocabulary completely.
It’s not uplifting and it makes you believe that things are worse than they really are. Even though it’s hard to see that little bit of extra as anything else, remind yourself that your body just created, grew, and delivered a human being.
2. Remind Yourself About 9 Months Changes
It took your body 9 months to get to where it is now, it will take it that time (and possibly more) to get back.
You can’t build an empire in one day, so take things really slow.
Take a walk 2 or 3 times a week when you are cleared by your doctor, do some yoga, drink really fueling smoothies. You WILL eventually feel like yourself again.
3. Eat Well
Quite possibly, the best way to make yourself feel better about your new body is to eat well.
Choose good, healthy foods that fuel your body and it will help you bounce back physically and emotionally.
It is going to take time, but choosing good foods will give you the peace of mind that you need to feel comfortable in your own skin. Plus, you will need all the extra energy you can get 😉
4. Celebrate Your New Body
You’re a new person, a refined being.
Celebrate your changes by celebrating your body.
It’s okay to want to be healthy, but continue to cheer yourself on from start to finish.
Some ways that you could do this are to accentuate the things about your body that you love and to practice self care.
Maybe your thighs are a little thicker and you like ’em! Maybe you’re uncomfortable with your body, but you are really good at applying your makeup. Whatever makes you feel like you, do it!
5. Buy Some New Clothes
The best part about losing weight is buying new clothes, so shouldn’t it be the same for gaining a little bit?!
Part of celebrating your new body is buying things that make you feel good about yourself and that make you comfortable. Buy something that shows off your new curves in a positive way. Two of the best companies who are honoring postpartum bodies are American Eagle and Target! If you just scroll through the photos on their site, you’ll notice all kinds of stretch marks, tummy rolls, and women OWNING bikinis with their new mama bodies. Wear something that makes you feel good!
6. Embrace the…Leaking
If you’re breastfeeding, you know exactly what I’m talking about.
Your baby is going through a growth spurt, so you’re leaking a little more than usual EVERY TIME you have a letdown.
Do your best to spin this in a positive way. You are so lucky that you have productive breasts are nurturing that tiny being.
Ahem…let’s talk about the “other” leaking. Your body has CHANGED.
Throw on a panty liner and own the day, mama! If ANYONE has tips on how to make “that” stop, drop a comment and share with us because who honestly LIKES to be limited in the way that they sneeze?
7. Accept Compliments
One of the biggest things for me (and most moms I imagine) is to simply accept compliments!
I think I struggled with this more after my second pregnancy. If anyone told me that I looked great, I had to comment on how I looked better before, or how I thought I was “fat” but now I’m really fat.
It’s not fair to you or the people offering you sweet words! Let people say that you are looking great, let your significant other comment on how beautiful you are. You ARE beautiful!
8. Lose the Scale
Stop looking at the numbers and focus on the progress.
You are doing better than you were 3 days ago, so stop keeping tabs on how much weight you are losing (or gaining) and how many inches you are losing (or not losing).
Just focus on celebrating small successes for now!
9. Stop Comparing
Comparison is the thief of joy!
Stop focusing on how other moms look in their postpartum bodies. Everybody is different, everybody progresses at different rates, and our hormones all normalize at much different paces.
The worst thing you can do is fixate yourself on how other women look because you will only make yourself miserable. Start focusing on the beauty of your body and celebrate with other moms on their successes!
10. Stop Reminiscing
Memories pop up on my Facebook feed all that time that remind me of what my body used to look like.
TURN THEM OFF! Part of honoring the way that you are now is to let go of who you used to be. The grass is always greener on the other side, so water the grass you stand on now.
Whatever it is that you can do to make yourself feel like YOU, do it! It is very possible that your body will never be the same again, but you can thrive in the idea that you are a new person raising a tiny tribe of people that your BODY created.