I’ve always considered childbirth to be one of the most beautiful experiences of my life. But after giving birth to two children, the reality of my postnatal body left me feeling anything but beautiful. I knew my body would go through many changes during my pregnancies. In the beginning, I anticipated gaining a few extra pounds and even looked forward to going up a few cup sizes. But after the babies were born, I had a hard time accepting the image that stared back at me in the mirror. In fact, I did everything I could to avoid mirrors for a long time!
But sometime after the birth of my second child, I became fully immersed in my role as a mom, and I began to realize that my negative body image had little to do with reality. The reality was that I may never look the way I did before becoming a mother, and that was ok. The reality was that I was a different person with children than I was before. That older version of myself had disappeared. And my husband seemed to be more in love with me than ever as the mother of his children. My priorities were different, and I eventually got to a place where I could accept and embrace my new figure. These are just a few of the lessons I had to learn on the road to embracing my postnatal body.
Honor Your Power
When I stopped being ashamed of my sagging breasts and started seeing them as the beautiful source of my baby’s nutrition, I felt less sad and more like a superhero. And I was able to enjoy bonding with my baby instead. Rather than beating yourself up for carrying a few extra pounds, try showing yourself some love for the miracle you’ve accomplished. The fact that you brought a new life safely into the world is something to celebrate and more than a good reason to give yourself a little grace as your body adjusts and recovers.
Take it to the Mat
For me, there aren’t too many problems yoga and movement can’t fix. When I’m on the mat, I’m not racing anyone or trying to beat a high score. It’s a time to honor the way my body feels in the moment, tight hamstrings, achy back, and all. And as I move through my practice, I can forget about the weight of my body and embrace the levity. I can be present and appreciative of the work my body does. Before I begin each practice, I take time to honor myself for showing up on the mat, especially on days when I would have rather enjoyed a few extra minutes of sleep instead. And spending a little extra time in Warrior II pose (my fave!) makes me feel pretty powerful. Yoga may not be your thing, what makes you feel radiant in your skin.
Love on Yourself
As a new mom, I felt like I was nothing more than a diaper-changing, milk-feeding machine. It was hard to see myself as sexy when I was heavier than I was used to, and my breasts were constantly leaking. Needless to say, sex was pretty much out of the question. That is until masturbation helped me get my sexy back. You may not always be in the mood to be intimate with your partner, but that doesn’t mean you can’t use the time to get in touch with yourself, literally. Masturbation is linked to so many health benefits, including lower stress levels, a boost in mood and energy and a positive body image. And if that wasn’t enough, having an orgasm helps strengthen and brings blood flow to your pelvic floor.
Don’t Compare Yourself to Anyone
Pop culture’s obsession with being fit and fabulous can leave you convinced that it’s normal to return to your pre-baby size in the blink of an eye. And staring at photos of celebrities walking out of the hospital post-delivery in their skinny jeans can make you feel less than beautiful. The reality is that every postpartum experience is different. Don’t compare yourself to others. Your body is unique and is adapting and changing to accommodate your needs as a new mother/birthing person.
I’m not going to lie, some days I miss the girl with a figure that could turn heads on the beach. But as I’m getting to know the woman who can help with homework and cook dinner simultaneously without breaking a sweat, I think she’s pretty dope.