I have to admit, before having my son, I really did not have a true understanding of the postpartum changes that were to come. Sure, I was anticipating feeling weak, having a softer belly, losing some hair. But WOW there are some crazy things that happen to our bodies after birthing a child.
From Lochia, intense night sweats (even in the middle of winter), to rapid hormonal changes…the postpartum experience starts out with literal blood, sweat, and a lot of tears. The first few months were crazy intense. Add a healthy (…or not so healthy) dose of sleep-deprivation and I was left feeling totally out of sync with my body.
It’s not so easy to feel beautiful when you’re leaking breast milk through your clothes, watching clumps of your hair fall out at an alarming rate, and have huge dark circles under your eyes. I’m now 6 months into being postpartum and there have been (and still are!) days where I just feel BLAH. Thankfully while on this crazy journey I’ve found some things to help me stay body positive. Hopefully they’re useful to you, too.
So here are 5 tips on how to embrace your postpartum body:
1. Have A Little Humor
I cannot stress this one enough. HUMOR has been one of the biggest tools in helping me stay positive. When I first started to experience the horror that is postpartum hair loss, I was not feeling so lovely. I was mortified and frustrated. But laughing at the fact that both my dog and I are going through our “shedding seasons” has made the situation a little lighter.
My husband has also started referring to me as the “milk lady” when it’s time to breastfeed, which makes me smile regardless of whatever mood I’m in.
It’s important to find those little moments that make you laugh. Taking a step back and finding the humor in these challenging times, might just help make them seem a little more manageable.
2. Find Your Tribe
Connecting with my neighborhood mom friends has been INSTRUMENTAL in understanding and embracing my postpartum body changes. I love my husband and he is super supportive, but he can’t truly relate to what my body is going through.
Having the opportunity to talk with other moms who are going through the same things is a reminder that I’m not so crazy after all. Make time to get together with your mom friends or join a support group. And remember that you are not alone in this!
3. Be Kind To Yourself
Having a baby is TOUGH on our bodies! It took time to grow that tiny human and it takes time to heal. The media is filled with countless tips and tricks on how to quickly get our pre-baby bodies back. But this sends the message that our postpartum bodies aren’t beautiful or that they need to be ‘fixed’.
The reality is that my body may never look exactly as it did before having my son. And that is okay! Yes, I’ve started to exercise again and maintain a healthy diet, but I realize now that it’s more about feeling strong and empowered in my post-baby body rather than trying to get rid of it.
This body is my new normal and I want to have a positive relationship with it. So when you have a negative thought about your body, ask yourself, “Would I say this to someone I care about?”
If the answer is no, see if you can replace it with something a little kinder.
4. Practice Gratitude
When I feel frustrated with my engorged breasts, or by the constant struggle of using nursing pads, I remind myself that I’m grateful for the opportunity to be the “milk lady” and nourish my son. I’m also grateful for my strangely enlarged belly button and brown line down my stomach. All are reminders of the amazing way my body transformed to bring my son into the world.
Yes, there are still days where I’m not feeling so great about my body, but practicing gratitude has helped me be a little more compassionate towards myself.
So try taking a moment at the beginning or end of your day to express some gratitude towards your body, pesky postpartum changes and all!
5. Self Care
Whether you go for a pedicure, get a massage, or take a yoga class, it’s a time to be present with your body in a positive way.
As new moms, we’re often so in the give give give mindset that we forget that it’s okay to be the one who receives sometimes. And with all of these crazy (and sometimes painful!) changes, it’s so so important to give your body some extra love and attention.
This one has been especially tough for me. I feel guilty every time I want to take time away from my son to do something for myself. But I’ve noticed that when I finally do make time for self-care, I start to let go of the negative self-talk and make room for self-love. I return to my role as a mom feeling a little more recharged and grateful.
The postpartum period is unique to each mama, but I think I can speak for all of us when I say it is CRAZY TOUGH! We may not be able to prevent these postpartum changes from happening, but with a little self-love and humor we can learn to embrace our post-baby bodies in a more positive way!