The New You: Loving Your Postpartum Body
Stepping into new skin as a mama can feel strange—but it can also be wonderful.
Very few things in life are love at first sight—and for many women, that goes for the postpartum body. After conceiving, growing, laboring, and delivering a tiny human, it’s often easier for new moms to overlook the incredible physical feat that is pregnancy, childbirth, and postpartum recovery and hyper focus on stretch marks, loose skin, changed breasts, or a few extra pounds.
First, that’s normal. And it’s normal to not love every single change your body goes through during the perinatal period of pregnancy through postpartum. But it’s also important to find ways to get to know, accept, and even love your new and changed body (after all, it is your home!).
And how you approach and think about your body after having a baby matters.
After all, while society often glamorizes ‘bouncing back’ from pregnancy and childbirth, it’s important to move forward, recognizing that motherhood is a massive transformative change for your mind, spirit, and body. It’s not something you ‘bounce back’ from. It’s something you adjust to, thrive in, and become.
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“Everything required for the postpartum period is the opposite of what our culture values. Our culture loves productivity, speed, fast results, image. The postpartum time is slow, inward, the long game, and not too attractive. In many ways, the postpartum time represents our cultural shadow, and for that reason it can be a great teacher, and the medicine that we all need. If we can learn to slow down, to attend to our most fundamental needs, our world will change, how we relate to each other will change, the way that we treat the Earth will change." ~ Kimberly Ann Johnson _ ⠀ 📷 @scarletoneill c/o @kaylaroccophoto via @mothermusemag
In many ways, your body (and your life) will never be the same. (You did just birth a human!) And that’s okay; that’s part of the wonder that is becoming a mother.
So how can you focus on what’s ahead instead of what’s behind, learning to accept, live in, and love your new body?
Here, a few body-acceptance strategies that can help. And remember: Just as getting pregnant or growing a baby takes time, so too does getting to know a brand new body.
Get the 411 on the changes
Throughout pregnancy and the postpartum period, your body goes through enormous changes. For example, did you know pregnancy impacts every organ in your body? Your body quite literally has to grow and stretch to accommodate the baby growing inside and then—within mere hours—start to contract back down as the uterus shrinks. Knowing about these changes might not help you like your stretch marks anymore, but it could help you understand that they served a purpose, which might help you respect all that your body has accomplished.
Speak your truth
Remember, if you’re not in love with your postpartum body or even if you’re ambivalent about it, you’re not alone. And voicing your concerns with a trusted (keyword!) partner, family member, or friend can help you feel supported, help you understand what you’re going through, and provide perspective.
Also: Sometimes, all it takes is saying something aloud to help you come to terms with it. Feel like you need some professional support? Many therapists and counselors are specifically trained in perinatal mental health and can guide you through struggles with body image and change. Find a professional here.
Find time for yourself
If your medical provider gives you the green light, yoga can help strengthen your mind-body connection. Not only could this help you feel better about yourself and the changes your body went and is going through, but you’ll be able to be active and (hopefully!) connect with like-minded mamas. Apps like Peloton offer very useful prenatal classes.
Yoga not your thing? There are many prenatal and postpartum programs designed specifically for the perinatal period that can help you heal from childbirth and feel your best (try: Luna Mother Co.). After all, if you enjoyed exercise pre-baby and it was a big part of your routine, it’s important to remember that returning to it can be an act of love—not one of trying to ‘get your body back’ or look a certain way. In short: It can help you feel like you!
Exercise not right for you just yet? Try finding a few quiet moments each day to connect with yourself, the activities you love, and what truly brings you joy (even the small stuff like a cup of coffee solo!). Making time for these things matters—and can help you feel more like yourself, especially if you’re struggling to feel that way.
Reset your postpartum expectations
Social media, the media, maybe even your friends...there are lots of unrealistic images out there about what the postpartum period looks like and what it should look like. And the consequence of this is that many moms have unrealistic expectations about what a postpartum body looks and feels like (as well as what is actually in their control and what isn’t).
Take stretch marks. Many women unnecessarily develop so much anxiety around getting stretch marks.
When we launched our Stretch Mark Relief collection we wanted to alleviate that anxiety and instead encourage a focus on the self-care and self-love that can be enjoyed during this period—ultimately helping women to feel their best (hello, hydration) while also learning to accept (and even love) their lines.
Dropping preconceived notions around what a postpartum body looks like—and approaching the time period with an open mind and acceptance—can help you reshape the way you perceive your body. And when you can view these changes as a natural part of the transformation to motherhood? You can eliminate a lot of the angst, stress, and worry surrounding what you’re “supposed” to look like!