So, you've had a baby. And you look like you've had a baby. Whether it's the mom hair cut (nice and short so that your kid can't pull your hair), or it's the increased weight, or it's the belly that won't go flat anymore. Whatever it is, there's something about your body that's different from before and that you don't like. Something that you vow to change. So you try different diets, different exercise plans, but nothing is working. You just keep perseverating on it, making yourself feel bad, and making yourself feel uncomfortable in your own skin.
Let's take a step back and remember the incredible miracle that your mom body was just able to accomplish. Your body was able to carry a fetus (or two or three) for about 40 weeks, it was able to birth that baby, and it was able to feed that baby. Congratulations! Your body has performed a miracle. You have given life. Your body, no matter what shape it is in, deserves a round of applause.
Since this miracle happened, you have been up every 3 hours feeding your baby for the first few weeks of his/her life. You are sleep deprived, isolated, and emotional. Your hormones are adjusting to not being pregnant anymore. Soon you start to lose your luscious hair that grew so wonderfully during your pregnancy. You used to be a rational person knowing what you wanted, and how to get it, but now things aren't making as much sense. You're just trying to survive. There's no time, or even emotional space to think about dieting or exercising. There are more important things happening; like "how do I keep this baby alive?"
Even though all of this is common knowledge, and women have become mothers for all of civilization, you are expected to go back to your pre-baby body within weeks of delivery. You are expected to look like a well rested, young, stylish, skinny woman. When you look at everything that your body just went through it seems absurd. It seems ridiculous. So why is there so much pressure to get back to our pre-baby bodies?
I think that as a society we have lost touch with what truly matters in these moments and what healthy looks like. We group together a skinny body with a healthy body and forget that there's a range for healthy weight. Add to that, all of these superstars who have post baby photoshoots where they look better than they did before and it just gets you down. You forget that the superstars have personal trainers, an army of nannies, housekeepers, and personal chefs making their meals.
I think it's important to remember the miracle that your body created in these moments of self criticism. Your body will never be the same again and that's something that should be celebrated because your life will never be the same again. That C-Section scar is a reminder of how strong your body truly is. Those stretch marks are a reminder that your body created life. Your slightly crooked, deflated breasts are a reminder that you were able to feed your child. Your body has gone through something life changing.
When you're a mom, you have enough to worry about. So, let your worries about the way you believe you have to look go. Love your body for what it was able to do rather than what it's supposed to look like.
Written by Linda Meier Abdelsayed, LMFT
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