Having body confidence after giving birth doesn’t come easy. It requires emotional adjustments as well as physical ones; your body feels different, and looks different. So, how do you heal, restore and learn to love your body? How do you balance the self-love mantra to embrace it, tiger-stripe stretch marks, extra skin and all with the desire to look and feel better, and really mean it?
We really need to give moms permission to love their bodies. The feat of carrying, birthing, nourishing, mothering and loving a child really does make you awesome and beautiful. Unfortunately fatigue, rampant hormones, and the sheer unfamiliarity of our new bodies means it is not always easy to truly believe that. As moms we have a tendency to dismiss our desires (and the desire of others’) to get fit, get healthy, or simply to look and feel good as superficial or selfish.
You are entitled to a body that works. A pelvic floor that does its job, a core that is stable, supportive and keeps you strong, pain free and supple. You’re also entitled to feel good about yourself.
I hear every day from women who want to lose their baby weight, tone up and get their body looking the way they’d like it to. But the way they look to the outside world is actually only a part of this. I most often hear women say:
“I want to feel sexy again”
“I want to feel good about myself”
“I want to have fun with my kids without getting tired”
“I want to accept myself as I am”
“I just want everything *down there* to work, and to feel like it used to”
“I want my partner to find me attractive”
“I don’t want to feel fat and frumpy”
Every word is about how we feel and function, not just the way we look. The aesthetics are important to us – but the emotions are what dominate. A pelvic floor that fails you when you laugh or sneeze is not something you should accept as an inevitable by-product of mothering. Neither is a core that that doesn’t work, diastasis recti causing instability or discomfort, or anything that bulges, pokes out, makes you uncomfortable or causes you pain. We deserve better than that.
Go here for more help on ‘what’s normal to feel after childbirth, and what isn’t’, including when to seek medical advice. These issues are NOT ‘as good as it gets’ and a progressive program of re-alignment, reconnection and restoration of your core muscles will get you a body that works!
As well as the physical issues we owe it to ourselves to address, so should we devote time and attention to how we feel about our bodies. If you don’t like to look at your own naked body, if you avoid sex, or at least sex with the light on, or you feel self conscious or invisible in a crowd, then you owe it to yourself to put a little Mojo back in your life. I urge you to take time for yourself and your own wellbeing. Walk outside every day and feel the air on your face. Learn to move your body in better alignment, which will begin to correct a whole host of other issues such as pelvic floor weakness, diastasis and whole body health. Eat real food that nourishes and energizes you. Try as hard as possible to get a little more sleep whenever and wherever you can. Moms too often put everyone else’s needs first and dismiss their own needs as selfish or a low priority.
Mama, you are a better mom, a better partner, wife and friend when you feel good about yourself! You can’t keep giving when you have nothing left. This desire, this need, to be put back together again – inside and out – is not superficial or selfish. Taking care of yourself is actually the most generous thing you can possibly do for everyone around you – so if it makes it easier to prioritize that way, do it for them!