Photo by Jordan Whitt on Unsplash
Motherhood is an incredible time in our lives; simultaneously full of love, joy and excitement, not to mention plenty of challenges (avoiding sleep deprivation and maintaining a strong relationship with your spouse for a start).
As if new mothers didn’t have enough to think about, there’s a whole huge part of motherhood that we don’t talk about enough: our postpartum bodies.
With motherhood, our body goes through some pretty big changes. We put on weight, stretch marks appear, our breasts change and our stomach swells — and nothing goes back to how it was before.
Accepting and loving your new figure can be tough, especially when we’re hit with an enormous amount of pressure to “bounce back” or “beat that mom bod” — unsubtle messaging that is full of unrealistic expectations. But although it can be difficult to find your body confidence and learn to love your body again, it is absolutely possible.
Read on for some simple tips for new moms on finding your confidence and learning to love your postpartum body.
Be proud of what you’ve achieved
No, we’re not talking about weight loss. We’re talking about the biggest thing in your life right now: your beautiful new baby!
You’ve just achieved amazing things with this body. You’ve grown a tiny human inside you; nourishing them and protecting them for nine months before delivering them in the world. It’s incredible, and your body is magnificent for doing it!
And you’re still doing it now — whether you’re breastfeeding or not, you’re providing for your baby, keeping them safe, fed and happy. Your body is allowing you to do this, so be proud of all of your hard work. Appreciate the things that your postpartum body has achieved; it’s very impressive.
Stop comparing and start celebrating
We’re all guilty of it; staring enviously at other women’s postpartum bodies on Instagram or reading a headline about a celebrity’s “bounce back” and staring at their svelte, stretch-mark free body in a bikini and wondering why we don’t look like that.
It’s time to recognize that postpartum body pressure is a thing in our society — and beat it by stopping the constant comparison of our bodies to other people. Instead, we should be celebrating our wonderful postpartum bodies and what they’ve achieved!
Underwear brand Knix (you can check out their new pregnancy and postpartum range here) is doing exactly that with their Life After Birth Project.
Partnering with online initiate The Empowered Birth Project and doula collective Carriage House Birth, Knix has created a powerful project (and moving exhibition) that celebrates the strength and beauty of postpartum bodies. This beautiful project shows that mom bodies come in all shapes and sizes — with stretch marks and loose skin and scars — and encourages this celebration, giving new moms a chance to feel seen and supported.
Be kind to yourself
This piece of advice may sound simple, but putting it into practice is much harder for many new moms.
Being kind and gentle to yourself isn’t always easy. We often look at our new postpartum bodies with such a critical eye — pointing out every single flaw we see and cruelly magnifying them until they are blown out of all proportion. We wouldn’t do this to our friends and the other new moms in our lives; we wouldn’t even do it to strangers. So why do we insist on being so mean to ourselves?
It may be difficult to start with, but try to practice being kind to yourself and your postpartum body. Yes, it may not look how it used to — but it’s still an amazing body and it’s still yours. Love your whole self: your body, your mind, and your soul. You have both inner and outer beauty — your self-worth is not based purely on some stretch marks and a bit of loose stomach skin.
Take it slowly
Everyone’s postpartum journey is different; some women find that the weight just drops back off after the birth (although this is unusual), and some women find it takes longer, or may not lose the weight at all. We are all different people with different bodies, so don’t compare your journey to someone else’s.
It’s also worth remembering that you put that extra weight on during a time period of nine months; you’re not just going to lose the pounds in those six weeks after you’ve given birth. Be patient and take it slowly if you’re going to try for any weight loss.
Self-love and acceptance will not come when you’ve lost X amount of weight, or can fit into those old skinny jeans — you’ll always be chasing a smaller number of the scales if this is how you measure yourself.
Learn to love your postpartum body and getting your body confidence back isn’t always easy, but it is possible. Be kind to yourself, respect the hard work that your incredible body has produced — it’s time to start celebrating the postpartum body!