The months after having a baby are precious. It’s impossible not to love the squishy baby that your body has nurtured for nine months. And yet, it almost seems impossible to love your postpartum body. Most women that I know don’t have a wonderful relationship with their bodies. Throughout my teenage and adult years, I’ve always had something negative to say about my body. Those thoughts and feelings about your body can magnify full-force once you have a baby.
After I gave birth to my twins I remember pinching the little pooch that formed right above my C-section scar and hating it. I had just had twins. My body had carried them for nearly 37 weeks. They were healthy. I was breastfeeding two babies. And yet, I didn’t have a single nice thought about my body. Although those feelings get better over time, I believe that we can set ourselves up so that we love our postpartum bodies no matter what they look like. I just had my fourth baby. I’m still learning to love my body after baby. But these are some things that have helped me find happiness with my mom bod.
Celebrate what it can do
Your body is amazing! You just gave birth to a baby (or two). I know it feels like you are falling apart. From blood to breast milk and night sweats, you have bodily fluids coming out of you everywhere. You probably hurt in several places. But your body just created a whole new person. Half of the human population can’t even do that. Your body did. Celebrate that.
My husband and I tried to get pregnant for nearly six years. At times I hated that my body didn’t work the way it was supposed to work. Once we finally did get pregnant with our twins (and after adopting our oldest son), I remember feeling so grateful that my body could be pregnant. That it could help make babies. Celebrate the good. You made a person. That’s amazing!
Moving your body is to love your postpartum body
Most doctors recommend waiting six weeks until exercising. But, as soon as you are feeling up to it, start moving your body. At nearly two months postpartum with my twins, I remember telling my husband that I just wanted to feel alive again. I didn’t want to feel like all my body could do was make milk and sit.
One of my favorite ways to ease back into exercise is walking. After my last
It’s so easy to get stuck in the rut of wearing the most comfortable clothing possible after you have a baby. That’s awesome. Sweatpants feel nice on sore and tired bodies. But when you are starting to have days where you don’t love the way you look it’s time to class things up a little. You can love your postpartum body better when you feel like you look nice. Buy that nice nursing bra. Do you have a closet full of clothes that don’t fit? Find some that do. No, it’s not fun to buy clothes that may be too big for you in a few months. But, wearing clothes that fit you is essential for feeling comfortable in your body postpartum.
My last baby was born in the fall. My winter coat wasn’t fitting and so I spent a lot of time wearing my husbands’ not-so-cute coat. At the urging of a friend I splurged and bought a nice coat that would fit my postpartum body through the winter. It made all the difference in my confidence when I had to get out of the house.
Give yourself a break
At the beginning of my pregnancy with my fourth child, I told myself that I’d take care of myself throughout my pregnancy. In the months before I became pregnant, I had lost 35 lbs. But, after I became pregnant we finished some major remodeling on our home. Then we moved into a new home, sold our previous home, and even went to Hawaii. My husband spent a combined total of two months throughout my pregnancy travelling for work, being gone a week here or a week there. All of my plans to eat healthily and exercise went out the window.
Instead of recognizing all of those stressors in my life, I’ve beat myself up about my unhealthy habits. I gained more weight during my pregnancy than I wanted to gain. Those unhealthy habits have been hard to kick and I’ve been really hard on myself. But, making myself feel bad about won’t ever help me make better choices in the long run.
Be patient in finding your new normal
You’ve heard it before. It takes nine months to put on the baby weight, it’ll take nine months to get it off. The reality is that some of us shed that weight a lot sooner, and some hold onto it a lot longer than nine months. But, the message is a good one. It’ll take time for your body to find it’s new normal. You can love your postpartum body in the meantime.
I say new normal because your body will never look exactly the way it did before you got pregnant. You might have stretch marks or extra weight. Over time, your body will change. You’ll stop being so swollen. Breastfeeding will mean all sorts of changes in your shape. But, you will learn to take care of and appreciate your postpartum body.
Love your postpartum body by eating well
Your body has been giving the best of what you eat to your baby for nine months. Longer if you are breastfeeding. It needs nutrients and healthy foods. Desserts and junk foods are easy and delicious. But they won’t make your body feel well or nourish it. It’s hard to eat well during pregnancy because you have cravings and you are tired. In my experience, however, it’s even harder to eat well postpartum. Your body is recovering. Breastfeeding can turn you into a garbage dumpster for all food. You have no time or energy because you are tending your baby and not getting enough sleep.
It takes planning to eat well postpartum. Keep healthy snacks on hand. Take an hour once a week to cut up fresh fruits and vegetables and keep them in baggies in the fridge. Plan healthy meals. Tell loved ones who are trying to help about your intention to eat well. Eating well is a form of self love and self care.
Get more sleep to love your postpartum body
I know, I know. You have a new baby. You aren’t getting enough sleep. Unfortunately, lack of sleep can make you feel horrible. Everything seems worse when you aren’t getting enough sleep. It’s hard to appreciate your body (or really anything) when you are tired.
Make a plan to get more sleep. Ask your husband to take one or two nights a week so you can get some rest. Nap whenever you have a chance. Drop baby by your mom’s house so you can sleep for an hour. It’s not selfish. This is part of taking care of your postpartum body.
Loving your postpartum body means taking care of it, no matter the condition. Take time to appreciate what it’s done. As you care for your