I expected to hate my body after delivering my baby. Our culture had conditioned me to not just believe that, but to anticipate it.
Well, here’s a shocker—I didn’t hate it! In fact, I have never loved my body more than in the weeks and months after giving birth.
I realize not all women share my sentiments. Many women struggle with feelings of disgust toward their post-baby body. I’m here to tell you that you don’t have to feel that way.
In the process of becoming a new mom, I had some very eye-opening realizations. These ideas have completely changed how I view my body and have given me a love and confidence for myself that I didn’t have before. I’ll sum these realizations up to help you new mamas do the same!
My 5 Tips to Love Yourself and Your Post-Baby Body:
#1: Pat yourself on the back, because holy crap—you just made a human!
You just made a human. Do you realize that? You made a baby inside of your body. This is not sci-fi. This is real life. Who cares if you still look pregnant in the weeks following birth? You just made a baby! Remind yourself of that. No matter what anyone says, we women are the coolest. Ever.
#2: Appreciate the fact that you’re not pregnant right now.
Remember pregnancy? Those nine months sure took their precious time didn’t they? In my third trimester I started to worry that I would actually be pregnant forever. I could see it in the tabloids… “Area woman still pregnant after 17 years…”
But guess what? My baby came! And yours did too!
Take a second and appreciate the fact that you have a beautiful new baby who lives outside of your body now. This means you can sleep on your stomach! You can bend over to tie your shoes or paint your toes. Swelling, morning sickness, nonstop peeing, heartburn, back pain, the list goes on—say sayonara baby! Because you are a non-prego, new mama right now. Think about all of the new freedoms you’ve been missing for the last nine months and enjoy them!
#3: Be a positive thinker.
Okay, I know—everyone is always telling you about “the power of positive thinking.” Yadda yadda yadda. It’s cliché. But it’s said often for a reason. Let me tell you a little story to paint a picture.
Once upon a time, about ten pounds ago (before having a baby), I put on a shirt and looked in the mirror. I thought, “Holy fatness. I cannot wear this shirt.” I proceeded to try on every other shirt in my closet until I realized that they all looked worse on me. Therefore, I begrudgingly came back to the first shirt and went out feeling like a fatty. This was a pretty typical occurrence and I’m guessing a lot of you can relate. I was very self-critical. I told myself I looked fat and I believed it.
After having a baby, things changed. I started to understand how powerful, capable, and strong I was. My thoughts became much more positive, especially about myself. I started to love and appreciate my body for what it could do, and not for how it looked. Each one of those stretch marks is a beautiful symbol of human love and sacrifice!
Think positively! It will have a grand and direct impact on the way you see yourself and the world around you.
I’ll be the first to admit that I sometimes go way too many days between washing my hair and doing my makeup. However, almost every single day (almost, because nobody’s perfect…right?), I exercise. That is my “me time.” Yes, there are days I dread doing it, but never, ever, ever have I regretted a workout. I really believe that daily exercise helps one love and appreciate their body. Making your health a priority—prolonging and enhancing your life in the process—is worth taking time for.
Take a walk with your baby. Find a class or a workout you love (like this one!). Run on the treadmill. Find something you enjoy or make it enjoyable by adding music or taking a friend with you. Remember Elle Woods from Legally Blonde? “Exercising gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy! Happy people don’t shoot their husbands. They just don’t.”
Make your health a priority. Get in a daily sweat sesh and you will love yourself a little more afterwards. I’m sure of it.
#5: Be patient with yourself.
Did you know it’s okay to still look pregnant for a while after giving birth? It’s a little thing I like to call normal. Did you know it’s okay to not have tight abs and a thigh gap your first time (or ever) back in a swimsuit? It’s normal. You just made a baby! Stop rushing yourself and beating yourself up for not having your “body back” yet. You are where you are, and guess what? That’s okay.
What is more important than where you are is where you are headed. If you are trying and working to improve, that is what matters. Reaching goals and “getting your body back” will take time. In the meantime, be kind to yourself. Be patient with yourself. You are where you are, and that is okay.
Ladies, some extra poundage and a few tiger stripes doesn’t mean you are worth any less than the pre-pregnancy version of yourself. I would argue that your new experiences have helped you to grow into so much more. Remember to think positively, and appreciate where you are right now. Be patient and kind to yourself. One of the best pieces of encouragement I ever received was “It took NINE MONTHS for your body to get to this point, give it AT LEAST NINE MONTHS to get back!”
You just made a baby, and you’re pretty amazing.
What Helps YOU to Love Yourself and Your Post-Baby Body???