The postpartum body is a hot topic right now. It’s everywhere we look on social media, in celebrity culture, we talk about it during our baby classes, we obsess over it when we scroll through pictures of ourselves with our children.
Postpartum body image is something I’ve thought about a lot recently. If you follow me on Instagram you’ll know that I had a little rant about the topic just the other day.
There is a very apparent pressure on mums, just days after giving birth. A pressure to get back into shape, and to do it FAST. With hormone levels freaking out in our bodies after giving birth we are vulnerable – our minds are a whirlpool of emotions. We’re experiencing the oxytocin high, elated after giving birth and so in love with our brand new bundle. That being said, our bodies are exhausted, and our minds are tired. Everything is going at 100 miles a minute and we’re trying to get accustomed to this brand new life we now have. Combine all of that with the pressures surrounding your postpartum body and you have a recipe for a breakdown.
I’m writing this blogpost to give my personal advice. I’m not going to delve into how awful body shaming is (that goes without saying). I’m not going to list the celebrities who have faced online trolls just days after giving birth. I’m not going to talk about photoshopped women, we all know stretch marks exist and only VERY few women manage to avoid them, our hips our now wider… IT’S BIOLOGY. No amount of editing software should allow those truths to be masked.
My heartfelt advice, whether you are currently pregnant, or you gave birth a year ago, is to be gentle on your body. Take a second to really think about how incredible your body actually is. Think about what it has done. You have grown a human, and given birth. That fact alone is proof that our bodies are for SO MUCH MORE than just looking good in a bikini on holiday, or fitting into a size 8 dress.
By all means, when you know deep down you are ready, then begin working out or changing up your diet. But don’t give in to the pressure that it needs to happen at the click of your fingers. It took your body 9 long months, it worked super hard to grow that little human that you love so much, so be patient with it.
I experienced a number of weeks when I got myself into a terrible state about my postpartum body, I allowed it to really effect my mood, looking back I was being extremely hard on my own body. It took me weeks, maybe even months to get to where I am now with it. I’m more confident now than I have ever been. I now realise that when I went back to the gym on October 17th after giving birth on September 5th that deep down, I wasn’t there for the right reasons. I went to the gym furious with my own body, worked out with the idea that I would change my body much quicker than it was capable of. This past couple of months I have allowed myself some time to be more gentle on my mind and body, I’ve overcome whatever postpartum anxiety I had and realised that in itself was so much more important than dropping pounds. I accepted that my body would slowly change, my hips have gradually become more narrow, my stomach a little bit tighter, and I’m finally in place where I’ve accepted that the stretch marks that I do have are symbols of what my body is capable of doing. I know I’m now going to the gym again for exactly the right reason, because I enjoy it.
All in all, I’m telling you that from personal experience, patience, perspective and appreciation for your body will be much better tools than crash dieting or being hard on yourself. Us mummies are sometimes guilty of forgetting how lucky we are that our bodies gave us the most precious thing we have.