It’s not always easy to make peace with your post-baby body. In fact, sometimes even I still hate my body. And I’m a Life Coach, writer and blogger who is passionate about helping new mums love their post-baby body!
There’s a growing trend in the media at the moment to celebrate and recognise ‘real’ post-baby bodies. But just because other women are posting about how they are embracing their post-baby body doesn’t necessarily mean that it is an easy thing to do.
If you are struggling with your post-baby body it might feel like too much of a leap to get to a place where you love how you look. I know some of the women I’ve come across simply don’t believe that it’s possible to be happy with a post-baby body. No matter what they read or do.
Which really made me stop and think about what I was trying to do. I’m ashamed to admit that in the early months of starting my blog I was a little, well, preachy about why mums should love their body. I was also, perhaps, a little bit arrogant in how easy this would be for them. My message was that women should feel amazing about their post-baby body. So I felt a little deflated when my message was received with skepticism and disbelief.
Here’s what I’ve learnt from that.
The journey from hating your body to loving your body is not quick. Nor simple and definitely not a straight line. There are stops along the way. And it’s only when you reach each stop that you can start to believe in the next one.
I realised that the first step to loving your post-baby body is to make peace with it. To stop being at war with it and to start finding the compassion you need to accept the changes becoming a mother has brought. I know that might seem difficult if you are in a place where you hate the way you look after a baby so here are my top seven ways you can start doing this.
We all know that our bodies do a lot for us but have you ever stopped to think about just how much they do? Especially during pregnancy. Your body has done an amazing thing when it gave you your baby. It grew, nourished, protected and birthed your baby. And then it gave you the strength you need to be a mother. To hold, sing to and comfort your baby. To feed them and keep the safe. It keeps you alive. Every day. Without ever asking for anything in return. Your body is the most incredible piece of machinery that has ever developed. And it is completely selfless in doing everything you need it to. How awesome is that!
Treat your body well
I’m very vocal about why new mums shouldn’t worry about dieting or losing the baby weight BUT that doesn’t mean that I think treating your body well isn’t important. Eating to nourish your body and give it all the nutrients it needs to function properly will have a big impact on how you feel about yourself. As will being active. If you know you’re being unhealthy you might end up adding feelings of guilt, shame and reproach onto how you already feel and feel even worse. So it’s not a great idea (whilst very tempting) to stuff your face with sugar and sit on the sofa all day. Instead eat a healthy balanced diet and try to fit in a little bit of exercise every day, even if it’s just a walk around the neighbourhood.
Curb negative self talk
One of the biggest things that will make you feel bad about your post-baby body is the way you talk to yourself about it. It’s so easy to fall in to a habit of looking in the mirror and criticising or judging the way you look but this is going to make you feel pretty awful. It’s really important to challenge your inner voice. Ask yourself what evidence there is for what it’s saying to you. Think about whether you’d say anything like that to a friend (if not, don’t say it to yourself!). Practice speaking kindly to yourself. What would you say to another mum who felt the way you do to give her comfort? Show that same level of compassion to yourself.
Practicing mindfulness can be really beneficial in getting rid of your critical inner voice as well as intrusive thoughts about your post-baby body. You can use it to focus on the present moment so that you can break the unhelpful thought patterns you might repeat in your head. Or you could use it to focus on how your body is, rather than obsessing over how you want your body to be. So, for example, if you find seeing your stomach in the shower difficult, focus on how your skin feels or how the water runs over your body. Mindfulness is about appreciating the here and now. It’s also about just noticing your thoughts rather than getting caught up in them or worrying about whether they are right or wrong. All of which can be helpful in allowing yourself to let go of negative thinking about your body.
Treat yourself to new clothes
It’s really easy to get caught up in the mindset that you’ll buy new clothes WHEN you lose the baby weight. Or that you don’t need to buy new clothes because any day now you’ll be able to fit into your old ones. What this can mean though, is that you end up wearing badly fitting, tight or unflattering clothes whilst you wait for the baby weight to disappear. This is going to make you feel even worse about your body and remind you that it’s different to how it used to be. Instead, invest in some key pieces that will make you feel great. Buy clothes that fit really well and that flatter your new body shape. Then make sure you wear them. Flattering, well fitting, stylish clothes will show you that you can look good, even though you might look different.
Find your body positive mum tribe
Social media can be a place where you receive very negative messages about your post-baby body but it can also be an amazing source of inspiration and support. Reaching out and finding other mums who are learning to love their body can give you hope that you’ll be able to love yours. And hearing their struggles along the way will show you that you aren’t alone in the way you feel. There are plenty of places on the internet you can find a body positive mum tribe so do a little bit of research and find the ones that really resonate with you.
It can take time to learn to be at peace with your post-baby body so if you’re not feeling it right now, don’t worry. It doesn’t mean you won’t ever feel that way. There is a lot of social conditioning to unlearn and a lot of negative thought patterns to let go of. It’s not a straightforward process and you might find that you have ups and downs along the way. By showing yourself patience, kindness and compassion you will allow a better relationship with your body to start to grow.