Your Postpartum Body, Love, and Everyone Else
Many things change after you have a baby, including your body. Oh, the body after baby. We’re starting to talk about it more. I’d say that’s a good thing.
I love that more and more women are talking openly about their postpartum experience. The more we speak honestly about things in our lives that inspire shame or fear, the more we liberate ourselves and comfort others. It’s one way we can build a bridge.
Lots of us experience shame when we look at ourselves in the mirror and compare what we see to the body we remember before becoming a parent. It’s true: there is so much focus on returning back to our pre-baby bodies in record time. Youth, smallness, and smooth, tight skin are the rule. But we are seeing more and more people deciding to define beauty for themselves. It takes pointed focus and mindfulness to flip the script when we find ourselves feeling less than.
Acceptance is important. Going beyond and embracing things like stretch marks and dark circles under the eyes is powerful. It is transformative to focus less on the aesthetic of our bodies as a source of pride and to focus more on their function. Our bodies do impressive things, like growing other humans and sustaining them. I’ve come to forgive myself for not looking exactly the way I used to after growing a baby inside my body and then taking care of it nonstop for years.
In addition to acceptance, it’s so important to listen to ourselves when we think something might be wrong. This is where talking openly about our experiences really comes into play. We are more likely to assume something is normal and that we shouldn’t seek support if we never hear other people’s stories about things like diastasis recti, prolapse, pelvic floor issues, postpartum mood disorders. All of these subjects can be uncomfortable to talk about. It’s so important we continue to talk about them. It’s time we remove shame from these subjects and bring them to the light for ourselves and for others who could be struggling with them.
When you see your image, remind yourself what your body has done and what it does every day. Do your favorite work out, try something new. Eat your favorite comfort food. Rest when you have the opportunity. Take a bath with your chosen salts, oils, or bomb. Give yourself the attention you deserve. Above all don’t punish yourself.
When you embrace yourself as you are, I breathe easier when I am in your presence. When I take action to love my body and myself as I am, and remove shame from my conversations around it, you might feel safe to do the same.