Are you newly postpartum and finding yourself unhappy with what your body looks like in the fourth trimester and beyond? If so, you are not alone. While pregnant, the female body undergoes a number of changes that can be overwhelming and uncomfortable. Once babies are born, the body goes through an incredible transformation again, as it adapts to no longer carrying your baby. For many of us women, the body changes after birth can be unexpected and difficult to love at times. Accepting our postpartum bodies does not come easy for most.
Because we know how challenging it can be to love your postpartum body, we have created a list of helpful tools to aid in supporting you in your journey to accept the way you look postpartum.
- Wear what actually fits. Part of feeling comfortable in our own skin comes from what we put on or over our bodies. It can be helpful to wear clothes you enjoy, feel good when wearing, and actually fit your body.
- Don’t compare. A major contributing factor to unhappiness can stem from comparisons, therefore it’s not likely to be helpful in your postpartum journey. Comparing what you look like after having a baby to what others look like can leave us feeling bad about ourselves. It can also be unhelpful to compare what we look like right now to what we looked like before pregnancy, as this can hurt our confidence.
- Remind yourself this is temporary. Your body will continue to change and look different the farther along you get into your postpartum journey. Reminding yourself in moments of unhappiness about your body that this is temporary, just like how being in your pregnant body was temporary, can be a helpful reminder. Things won’t always be this way.
- Practice self-compassion. Be kind to yourself. Your body has grown and stretched in order to create LIFE. And once that life is here, our bodies take time to transform again. Being compassionate and supportive of yourself during this time is a must. Give yourself love, praise, and positive words of encouragement. This is not the time to be mean to yourself.
- Focus on your strengths. It can be helpful to focus more on what you feel your body is doing well and/or what you like than it is to focus on what you don’t. Instead of focusing on your stretch marks or the weight that you’re wanting to lose, shift your thinking to what you like about your body right now. Challenge yourself to identify your strengths, because your body is stronger than you may be giving it credit for.
- Do things that make you feel good. It’s important to do things that make you feel good in the body you have. That could be to going on more walks, focusing on strength training, working on your pelvic floor exercises, getting your hair/nails done, buying a new outfit, etc. When we focus on things that make us feel good, it can help us focus less on what we wish we could change.
- Give up the time frame. Did you have in mind that by a certain time in your postpartum journey, you would be back in your old jeans again? Everyone’s body changes during pregnancy and postpartum are unique to them. Focusing on how much time it’s taking for you to lose weight or feel good in your old clothes again is not helpful.
While there’s no “quick fix” here, the positive is that your postpartum body will continue to change over time. This discomfort and dislike you’re feeling is temporary and being compassionate with ourselves about that is important for our healing. Just like your body adapted and changed to create your baby, it will adapt and change again to adjust back to not being pregnant.