During pregnancy, the mum-to-be body is adored and glorified. It is put on a pedestal. We often get compliments on our look and the roundness of our belly gets most of the glory.
But once the baby is born, it’s like those thoughts get locked in a secret place and the key is thrown into the ocean. And then, that beautiful body of ours is no longer, and instead perceived as not worth loving – the “post-baby body”.
In a study conducted in February 2017 by the University of Waterloo, Canada, 63 women were interviewed about the sense of lost control. Not recognising what we see in the mirror happens to most of us mothers. The study showed that most of these women reported feeling guilty for thinking about their bodies when, supposedly, they should be focusing on the baby. Others reported that, with time, paying more attention to their diet and exercise helped them to regain some control.
Also in 2017, The Butterfly Foundation conducted a survey where the majority of respondents (94.1%) were women, and the numbers are quite scary:
- 41.5% compare themselves to others on social media.
- 48.6% felt pressure to look a certain way.
- More than half (53.6%) rarely or never speak positively about their appearance.
- 73% wished they could change the way they look.
So what is preventing us from accepting our new bodies? And how can we stop suffering about something that should be natural?
Our bodies change – that’s a fact. I think the concept of “bouncing back” plays a huge part and it needs to be understood that every woman is different, and every pregnancy is different.
Yes, we have stretch marks, loose skin, extra kilos, more cellulite and don’t forget those saggy boobs after we are done with breastfeeding. That’s a normal post-baby body. Why can’t we love the new us? Why do we look at ourselves with disgust when what we actually see are signs of carrying and growing our little humans?
I think it is time to normalise mums’ bodies. It is time to redefine beauty. Because after making the most beautiful thing we will ever make we should feel beautiful as well.
Let’s learn how to embrace and accept our new body and make it functional to new life challenges we will face during motherhood. I believe that mums can be fitter and stronger than ever before (if that’s what they want) and having a post-baby body does not impede that.
Here are three actions you can start doing right now that can help you to accept your post-baby body:
- Practice gratitude to your body. Write down two things your body has done for you daily. A few examples include; growing your baby, carrying them when they are unsettled or sick, recovering from a major procedure such as a caesarean, being able to breastfeed, and so on.
- Do things that are fun for you! Move your body – exercise not to punish your body, but to reward it for everything it has done for you and to get it stronger. Choose an activity that makes you smile: swim, dance lessons, join a fitness group, Pilates or yoga.
- Make it about what you can do and not about how you look. Think about performance rather than appearance.
At the end of the day, never forget that although this body may look different from your pre-baby version it is a product of you being a mum now. And I bet you wouldn’t change it for a thing.
- The Butterfly Foundation
- Neiterman E, Fox B.
Soc Sci Med. 2017 Feb;174:142-148. doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2016.12.029. Epub 2016 Dec 23.