Pregnancy does weird stuff to your body with its baby-making juju. There’s the back pain, heartburn and random acrobatic moves in your tummy, and then there are the cravings, which make you want to devour a steak and doughnut simultaneously. If peeing while sneezing is a superpower, we moms are literally Wonder Women. The fact baby’s James-the-Giant-Peach head manages to wiggle itself — if only it were that easy — out of that once-small hole is a miracle in and of itself.
You emerge from the process thinking you’ll have time to at least put on some eyeliner before the “OMG, we had the baby!” photo session begins, which is never the case. Instagram #NewMom photos tell lies. Plus, when you’re done, you have to change your diaper and baby’s diaper — but it’s all worth it to have this little bundle of joy wrapped in your arms.
Get Your Body-Back? Um, Nope!
Just wait until the photos come back and the mirror reflects you in all your postpartum glory as you get out of the shower. What hangs low and wobbles to and fro? Every dang bit.
Love handles, preteen pimples, split jeans due to thunder thighs and other prior bodily distresses are instantly laughable. While everyone loves your bravery in the photos, you may feel like you see a beached whale who loves her baby, and suddenly, Google is stalking you with “Getting Your Body Back After Baby” articles. Others tell you some weight will remain, but it’s mostly easy-peasy-breezy to lose.
But why are we always in such a rush? It took you 9+ months to put on that “baby weight.” That baby weight is a damn miracle. You GREW a human. Think about that for a moment. The notion of getting your “body back” after baby is unrealistic and perpetuates issues with negative body image. Your body just gave birth. Of course, it’s different. It will likely be different forever. You shouldn’t concern yourself with “losing weight.” Your postpartum body needs to recover.
Everything changes in life, and your squishy body will evolve, too. In the meantime, give your postpartum body credit where credit is due, and love your body no matter what shape it is after giving birth to a tiny human. How should you go about loving your body just the way it is? We’re so glad you asked.
- Squishy Mama, You Need a Deep Soak
Fill the tub with steamy water. Make it boil and bubble, if you’re comfortable and feel ready to cackle. Gather your selection of soothing essential oils, like lavender, and pour the sweet smells in. Shake the Epsom salts and dance to your favorite jams with it all hanging out. Cackle a little, as the salt hits the water — mama, you just took a vacay to the Mediterranean.
Now soak up the goodness and rest your weary muscles. Linger in the ouchy spots, physically, mentally and emotionally, as you give yourself a cleansing bath. Take this time to give yourself proper TLC. Bring the bassinette into the bathroom if your partner isn’t home. A little steam is great for your new baby’s airway.
When you get out, rub cream on your poor cracked nips and all over your post-baby belly. Find a small part of your body to love today, tomorrow, six months from now and six years down the road.
- Get a Better Bra
Head to the maternity store, measure the tatas and size up accordingly. Those cheapo nursing bras aren’t doing your body image or back any good.
Not all nursing bras are boring and ugly. Many are practical and pretty. In the first month, soft cups and a sleep bra will make you comfortable, but near the end of the month, it’s time to get fitted as your breasts settle. Look for soft, breathable fabric to optimize your comfort level.
- Give Thanks for Spanx
Give thanks for Spanx on those occasions where you’ll be out and about in fancy company or for the days you’re not feeling it. That’s not to say you should hide your body, but some days, you want to feel smooth inside and out. It’s OK — get yourself some Spanx.
- Find a Thing That Fits
Clothes shopping after you’ve had the baby is a dreaded task. Your baby will go through growth spurts, and your postpartum body shifts with recovery. You will fling every item of clothing you have across the house and agonize over the fact that nothing fits.
So, put on your favorite pair of leggings – God’s gift to women – and go find a thing that does fit. Buy it. Buy one item, or 10, that fits you and makes you feel good — even if it’ll end up in the donation pile two months later. It’s a dreaded game-changer.
- Snack Healthily — and for Yumminess
If you thought you were hungry while you were pregnant are you in for a real treat. If you’re nursing you may be burning nearly 500 calories a day just by feeding your baby! It’s imperative that you keep yourself fueled and hydrated during the day (and night!) to feel like your best self. Keep healthy snacks around, but don’t be afraid to indulge a little as well. Dark chocolate pistachios or almonds are a sweet treat that help absorb antioxidants like vitamin E and lutein to promote eye and skin health. Lactation cookies are filled with oats, flax, and brewer’s yeast to amp up your milk supply – and also peanut butter and chocolate chips for your soul.
- Absorb All the Baby Love
You birthed this glorious, tiny little human that makes the silliest faces, and in all of them, you feel the love — even when it’s a stinky fart face. It’s the kind that makes you laugh and pee. All these experiences are tied to your postpartum body, which is pretty fabulous in all its awkwardness.
Snuggle that baby when you’re happy and sad. Absorb all the baby love, because that baby only sees its beautiful, badass mama.
- Find Help
Get family and friends to watch over the baby while you take a break or attend to other needs. Others can help you run errands. Groceries can be delivered. Support groups help you deal with challenging emotions. You’re not alone, and you deserve all the love and assistance you can get.
Know that you are beautiful and loved, whether it’s this week or seven years from now. Unrealistic notions about getting your body back after birth shouldn’t hold you back from living life and enjoying the new love of your life — your baby. That baby will always be your baby.
So about “getting your body back.” That’s really a silly notion. Your body didn’t go anywhere. You’ve still got it – in all of its squishy postpartum glory. And it is a true wonder. That body was your baby’s home. Your body will evolve, and it will take time to recover. Give yourself a little TLC, and take it moment by moment, mama. Now, go squish your baby!