How to Love Your Body Postpartum
During pregnancy, we celebrate our growing bellies and embrace the changes we are making for our children. So why do we have such a hard time accepting our bodies after giving birth? Our current culture and society teach us that women should “bounce back,” postpartum, but that is unrealistic for many reasons, like hormonal changes and breastfeeding.
It takes nine months to grow a baby, it can take just as long or longer to shed the weight associated with creating one. Instead of focusing on trying to lose weight, try drawing your energy and attention to eating nourishing food and getting a little bit of exercise each day, about 20-30 minutes. Walking, yoga, and Pilates are all great ways to accomplish a small workout without overdoing it.
Thank Your Body
Don’t underestimate the power of appreciation and gratitude. It’s pretty difficult to be self-conscious while actively thanking your body and admiring what it has done and continues to do for you.
Stand in front of the mirror and begin expressing your many thanks. What has your body done for you recently that you are thankful for? This can be anything from creating a child, to being able to go on a walk around the park.
Then notice the parts of your body that you love. This can be difficult at first because most of us have been taught to point out our flaws. Each day that you practice this intentional self-love it will become easier, and you’ll notice you have a more positive self-image. Some examples of self-thanks and self-love are:
- “I’m thankful for my belly for providing my baby a cozy spot for my baby to lay while nursing.”
- “I love the softness of my skin.”
- “I am grateful for my body for producing the nourishment my baby needs.”
Imagine You’re Someone Else
We are much more critical of ourselves than we are of the people we love, and sometimes even strangers. Try imagining your body on someone else. It doesn’t seem so bad anymore, does it? That person is still just as worthy of love as they have always been.
When we see other women postpartum, we don’t run to her and tell her she needs to lose weight quickly or get cosmetic surgery to give her fuller breasts. No, we think “She just had a baby and looks beautiful.” When we see a model with stretch marks, we feel empowered to be ourselves. We can choose to stop seeing these features as flaws and instead see them for what they are: proof of life.
When we stop loathing the bodies we have and start appreciating the bodies of everyone around us, we allow ourselves a little more grace and self-compassion. Every body is different and that’s wonderful.
Take some time each day to practice self-care, whatever you need to do in order to feel like yourself again. Quite often women get so caught up in taking care of everyone around them that by the end of the day they are too exhausted to care for themselves. It can be challenging to feel good about yourself when you aren’t being taken care of properly.
Start with the basics- showering, moisturizing, and getting dressed. Then ask yourself what else you would need. Some more examples of what self-care can look like are:
- Eating a nutritious meal.
- Getting outside to experience nature.
- Taking a nap when you feel exhausted.
- Reading a book.
- Spending a day with friends.
Sit with your thoughts surrounding how you view yourself. Explore the feelings that are dredged up from these thoughts and find out why they are making you feel that way.
Do you feel less valued or unworthy of love? Has someone made you feel embarrassed about your body before? Do you believe the self-critical thoughts to be true?
Talk therapy can be especially beneficial in addressing the deeply hurtful emotions and working on a way to reshape how we think of ourselves.
When you’re going about your day and you notice a self-critical thought, acknowledge it, then let it go and give yourself a reminder of something that you love about yourself. Soon the self-critical thoughts will be replaced by praises of self-love.
After practicing these routines daily, you should find it easier to love your body for the way it is now. Remember to set expectations, your body has experienced many changes and is likely to change again gradually as your body continues to heal.
For more information on what to expect postpartum, contact our midwives today!