Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Love Your Postpartum Self

Love Your Postpartum Self
As my youngest, and probably last child grows more into her toddler stage, I keep reflecting on her as a newborn and her older sister as a newborn. I even remember what it was like when I was pregnant with them and how my body changed. And then how it changed after giving birth! Motherhood is a huge learning curve for all women. Everyone’s experience of pregnancy, birth and the early days with their baby is totally different. Having a baby brings with it so many changes, to your lifestyle, relationships, and of course, let's not forget your body, too. After giving birth, many women discover that their body feels a lot different than it did before pregnancy and may find it takes a little adjustment to get used to it. This feeling of change comes as no surprise; after all, your body has been pretty busy growing a tiny human being for the past 40 weeks!

Go Easy on Yourself
You have just done something amazing, and brought a whole new life into the world, go easy on yourself because you’re actually pretty awesome! That means in all aspects. I mean don't feel like you are failing if you stay in sweats all day, have your hubby get take out for dinner (again), and certainly don't feel like you are failing if your body takes a while to feel normal in your ever-changing post-pregnancy body. 

Remember, at the moment you are your baby’s whole world. Your baby most certainly doesn’t care if your tummy is a little saggy, your hair could do with a wash, or you don’t feel that you look your best right now. Heck, I still have a saggy tummy, but I have my 2 beautiful children to show for it! 

Social media and the press may be full of images of women with perfect post-baby bodies, but everyone's life is different and everyone's body is different. It may be easier for some people to bounce back faster because their bodies are different or they have extra help. The most important thing is your new family, and not whether or not you can fit back into your jeans in the weeks after giving birth. Go easy on yourself and take care of yourself and your child. Those are the utmost important things. 

Make Time for You
Making time for yourself is not the easiest thing to do when you have a newborn, so obviously, a spa trip isn’t the aim here. Instead, get your partner or a relative to watch the baby so that you can have a shower without rushing. While you’re in the shower why not pop on some conditioner or hair treatment to show your locks some love, and use some body lotion when you’re finished in the shower to give your skin a treat? It’s quite amazing how such an everyday act can completely refresh your mind as well as your body when you’ve recently had a baby.

Little self-care tips like this may not offer a full makeover, but they are a great way to make yourself feel more human again, to still get a little time to yourself to take care of you and focus on caring for your body. Or just take the time for a well-needed nap! 

Image: Pexels

Banish ‘I should’ from Your Vocabulary 
I'm so guilty of this still! The phrase ‘I should’ is one that normally accompanies feelings of guilt about all the things that you feel you ‘should’ be doing; ‘I’m unfit, I should be back out training again by now,’ ‘I don’t like my stomach-look at this video of tummy tuck surgery, yikes!’ ‘Why do I look so tired all the time? I should make more of an effort.’

Conversations in our heads often feature the phrase ‘I should,’ and a lot of the time. Far from being helpful, it can really make you feel down about yourself. Taking action to change things you don’t like is absolutely fine, but putting yourself under lots of pressure by criticizing yourself and berating yourself for not making changes is absolutely not okay. A simple rule of thumb is to think about what you would say to a friend who had recently had a baby, and was being critical about herself. Chances are it would be completely different from the ‘I should’ conversations that you have in your own head. If you wouldn’t speak to your friends in that way, then why not treat yourself with the same compassion that you would show them. Be a friend to yourself!

Acceptance is Key 
Accepting who you are and what you look like can feel like a huge relief. Channelling any feelings of dissatisfaction about the way you look into feeling thankful that your body enabled you to bring a baby into the world may help. It certainly helped me. Whenever I would feel uncomfortable about the changes in my body I would remember all I had put it through and the miracle of growing a tiny human! I tried to think of what I didn't like about my body as a reminder of the beautiful life it created instead which helped me view those changes more positively. If I knew I would be 'blessed' extra tummy flab before having kids there is no question I would still go through pregnancy again in a heartbeat! If it doesn’t help, don't feel under pressure, simply accept that right now, at this very moment in time your body looks different to how it has in the past. How your body looks doesn’t make it bad; it just means that’s how it looks at this very moment in time.

Remember that just as your baby will continue to change and grow, your body will change over time, too. The key to loving your post-baby body is to love it in the same way that you did when it was growing your baby. Start showing your body that same level of acceptance now and you will be surprised by how much better it makes you feel!

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