Social media is full of self-deprecating posts by women about their “mom bods” – as in, trying to hide the imperfections that came with motherhood. Friends get sucked into special weight-loss teas, expensive workout programs or personal trainers, stretch mark erasers, and waist shapers that somehow shrink your body back to exactly how it was before pregnancy. But why spend all this time, money, and energy investing in turning back time? Why do we feel the need to erase our “battle scars,” when they are the gentle reminders that our bodies once grew, nurtured, and birthed new human life? Our mom bodies should not be judged, hated, or erased – they should be celebrated.
Here are some practical ways you can love and honor your postpartum body.
1. Consider where your self-worth lies.
Do your self-esteem and self-worth actually revolve around how skinny you are? Whether you have stretch marks or not? Whether your C-section scar has faded at all? Whether you still look great in that skimpy bikini? Hopefully not! Think about what you truly value in a person. What do you admire about your friends and loved ones? Probably not their appearance. If you’re feeling stumped, grab a journal and cup of coffee, and write down ten things you like about yourself (that are not related to your physical appearance at all). Are you creative? Are you a good dancer? Are you super-organized? Do you have a special crafting skill, such as knitting or sewing? Do you like to garden? Do your friends enjoy spending time with you? Are you a good problem solver? Are you able to cheer people up and encourage them even on the worst days? Consider those as the foundation of your self-worth, and pour your mental energy into celebrating what makes you special!
2. Write down powerful mantras.
Don’t just find them, write them down! Whether you save notes on your phone or write little sentences on post-it notes, make sure you keep a record of words you find powerful. Think about things like “I am strong,” “I am powerful,” “I radiate love and acceptance,” “I am confident in my abilities,” and lastly, “I will honor my body.”
3. Cherish and admire your body for the work it has done.
Sure, you may have looked great in crop tops, tiny bikinis, and skinny jeans before you got pregnant – but did that body grow a human life from scratch? You can, and will, eventually look similar to how you were before you got pregnant, but why take drastic measures to abuse your body back into how it was at that point in your life? Celebrate and cherish the body you have now. That body did an amazing job – grew and birthed a human. And if you’re breastfeeding, you’re still using your body in super-woman ways to nourish a new human life. We need to begin celebrating postpartum bodies, no matter the shape or amount of scars. Stretch marks are signs that your body was able to grow rapidly enough to nourish a growing baby within you. A soft, saggy belly is a sign that your body carried a little life for nine long months and provided that baby with a home before the outside world. C-section scars are signs that you underwent major surgery, one with a painful and often difficult recovery, in order to bring your baby safely into the world. These are things that should be treated with honor and not disgust.
4. Put down the magazines, and spend time with real moms.
If you spend all day watching television shows and reading magazines filled with celebrities who magically “bounced back” two weeks after giving birth, stop doing that to yourself. Make time to meet up with other moms. Spend time in the real world, with real people. Surround yourself with real moms, and you’ll quickly realize that postpartum bodies come in many shapes and sizes! If you’re feeling down, confide in another mom and tell them how you’re feeling. Chances are, they’ve felt the same way at some point!
5. Buy yourself a new wardrobe that fits your postpartum body.
Wear clothes that make you feel confident. Squeezing your wider hips into pre-pregnancy skinny jeans, only to see your muffin top staring back at you every time you pass a mirror, is going to do absolutely nothing for your self-esteem. Your pretty, form-fitting blouses may not fit as well postpartum if you choose to breastfeed. And that’s totally ok. Spoil yourself with a wardrobe overhaul! Go shopping, and buy yourself clothes that actually flatter your new body. Wearing new clothes that fit well can make all the difference in your confidence levels. And remember, everybody is a “summer body” – so wear that cute bikini if you want to!
6. Get in shape – but at your pace, using a method you actually enjoy.
No diet pill, belly wrap, waist trainer, juice cleanse, or miracle supplement will magically bring back your pre-baby body. In fact, many of these methods can be harmful to your body in the long run. You can be a healthy, fit mom in safe ways. If you are feeling very out of shape since giving birth, start with daily stroller walks. Even 20 minutes of walking first thing in the morning or after dinner every night can make a world of a difference! Babywearing is a great way to increase your strength and burn calories while allowing you to be close to your baby. There are many options for streaming workouts to your television if you don’t have money or time to go to the gym. Be kind to your body. Start with low-impact exercises like Pilates, yoga, and swimming. Your strength and stamina will come back in time. And don’t ever rush – the weight will eventually come off, and the more slowly and carefully you lose it, the more likely you’ll be to keep the weight off in the long run!
The bottom line is: every postpartum body should be honored. A mother’s body has done an amazing work – grown and nourished a new human life. Giving birth presents a major trauma to the body, whether you had a natural delivery or a C-section, and your body needs time to heal. Find simple ways to love your new postpartum body, and celebrate that “mom bod!”
Parenting is awesome. Sleep is overrated. Every day is an adventure.