Stretch marks make it look like Freddy Krueger got a hold of you? Floppy skin pulling out as far as Dumbo’s ears? Maybe even peeing a little every time you sneeze or laugh too hard? Then friends, you are welcome here, a place to talk about why your postpartum body after baby is AWESOME and DESERVING of your love, even though it’s not the same body you used to have.
Pop some popcorn and get comfy babes, this might be a long post. Plus it’s an excuse for popcorn. Mmmmmmmm.
Let’s just all be real here, being postpartum SUCKS. You’ve got weird fluids and blood coming from uncomfortable places. Your body after baby still looks and kind of feels pregnant, but it’s not. You’re sleep deprived as all hell (introducing the term MOMBIE), and you’re trying to figure out the mom thing.
Even if you’ve had multiple kids, figuring out a new one and learning how to function with them is new to everyone. Every. Single. Time.
Then you see stories about people that lost all the baby weight within two weeks, or see photos taken at 6 weeks postpartum and mom is rocking a bikini and you start to look at yourself with storm clouds in your eyes. Why is my skin still loose? Will my stretch marks ever go away? Are my boobs ever going to look the same again? Is baby daddy going to still find me attractive??
Negativity about your body after baby can be crippling. At a time when you should be overwhelmed with joy and love with this new, precious babe, there are dark shadows of bad self esteem and even guilt about the way you look lurking and threatening your sunshine.
I’ve been there. Some days I’m STILL there, because it’s not easy. I know how devastating it can feel to look in the mirror at yourself afterward. I’ve heard of moms that just love their body postpartum (apparently they DO exist??), and I think that is amazing and absolutely inspiring. For the rest of us though, it takes a while to come to terms with that.
After my first, I struggled with postpartum depression so I didn’t even have the feeling of euphoria from a new baby that could keep me sane when those negative thoughts came on. I felt like I was spiraling down and down, and between the PPD and the negative thoughts about myself, I hit rock bottom. Recently I did a guest post talking about how my PPD effected my self esteem which you can find HERE if you want the full story.
I need to be honest here, I still very much struggle with my self image and the way my body looks now after having kids, especially because of my weight. But I recently saw something on Pinterest (bless Pinterest) that really struck a chord with me. It was a photo of a belly riddled in stretch marks and very loose and wrinkly, clearly a postpartum belly. The caption talked about how we need to focus on being grateful for those marks, because they prove that our body made something truly spectacular, and that there were tons of women out there praying that they had those marks.
The truth in this statement just rang through my brain and I read (and re-read) it over and over again. I may be complaining about the little problems I have now that I have a baby, but how incredibly lucky am I that I was able to do that when so many are not? Somewhere out there, people are praying to look like me. ME. People see the real beauty in the miracle that I was able to carry a child. And it really is that. A Miracle.
It’s a miracle that you’ve been able to have a child, a miracle that your body was their home while they were growing. Your body literally made lungs, ears, a strong, beating heart! And at the end of all of that, a human, capable of thoughts, feelings, and with a beautiful life ahead of them was born.
OF COURSE it took a toll on your body. BUT YOU SURVIVED. Your stretch marks are scars of a warrior, a mark of your strength. The changes in your body are proof of your sacrifice for something you love. The bags under your eyes and extra weight show that you are continuing to fight for your little one.
Truly, you are a Warrior. A Queen. And THAT makes you beautiful.
It’s easy to read those words and even to believe them for a minute, but you have to keep telling yourself constantly, making a conscious effort to believe those things to truly come to terms with loving your body.
The worst thing that I ever did for myself was give up. I felt so distraught at my postpartum body that I figured, what’s the point? Why try to dress nice when it doesn’t hide what I look like? Why work out if my body will never look the same again anyway? Where is the GD ice-cream?!?!
Just because your body after baby is different, doesn’t mean you need to give up like I did! It just means that you need to find a new way to love it.
It’s not easy, but taking small steps every day to prove to yourself that you are worth it, and you are beautiful, will improve your confidence and make you FEEL and KNOW just how beautiful you are, and how much you deserve to be loved.
That means DON’T start dressing in a toga because you’ve given up (no matter how comfy!) Instead, learn to embrace your new curves and find styles that specifically target your body style. Wear colors that make you happy!
Something I have struggled with is finding what my personal style is because for so long, I’ve been a cross between a hobo and a sloth. I visited with personal style consultants that were absolutely phenomenal in helping me find the colors and styles that worked best for me. Read more on that HERE.
Visiting with a consultant is just one way to approach dressing yourself, but you can always just make a list of your favorite fashion bloggers or make a Pinterest board with your favorite outfits and look for things that you like, and that are designed to fit a body type like you have. If you want to try something, FREAKING TRY IT. Forget the rules and go for what makes you happy.
Spending time to dress yourself and get ready subconsciously sends the message that you are WORTH spending time on, and when you spend time to spruce yourself up you feel better.
I’ll let you in on a little secret, the more messages you send yourself, the more you will believe it when you say, “I love my body!”
Taking care of your physical health is also hugely important when it comes to loving your body. Now, I’m clearly not talking about doing the strict diet and exercise of a supermodel, but making sure you have plenty of water to drink, getting enough healthy food in, and taking a quick walk here and there will do wonders for how you physically feel. When you feel totally miserable it’s hard to be positive about anything, so keeping up with your health enough to keep your mind alert and your body feeling good makes a huge difference.
Every day, repeat a mantra that makes you feel good. I know, I know, it sounds hokey pokey (maybe it is) but positive affirmation and sending positive energy out into the universe about your body specifically really helps your mind embrace and believe what you’re saying. I usually try to say something like, “I am beautiful. I am smart. I am strong.” Or sometimes I keep it simple with, “I am a badass.” 😉
PS If you haven’t read Jen Sincero’s book, You Are a Badass, you need to get on that. STAT. It’s a quick read and you finish the book feeling like the rockstar you are.
Repeat your mantra every day. Every time you feel unsure of yourself or aren’t totally in love with your body. Repeat it over and over. Maybe embroider it on a pillow or tattoo it on your eyelids 😉 Then think about the amazing things your body has done to get that precious child here and remind yourself that you are a WARRIOR QUEEN. Call yourself Lagertha if you have to. (Where my Vikings fans at?)
Most of all, be patient with yourself. Every single person has unique features and different bodies that make them beautiful, which means changes effect everyone differently. It might take some time to get used to your body the way it is now, but remember what a miracle it is to have your body scarred by the beautiful act of bearing a child. Allow yourself time to become confident in your new skin, and to embrace the wonderful parts that make you soft and human. You’re doing amazing things, and that is beautiful. That beauty shines through, and you are worth it.
You are so, so worth it.