loving your body after birth
Society tells us that as women we’re not even supposed to love our bodies and, in fact, we’re wrong if we do. We’re expected to be discontent with the way we look. It’s why we’re inundated with diet ads and fads. It is an exceptional thing to show your body unconditional acceptance. It is a radical thing to do this after birth.
There are a few reasons it’s hard to love our bodies after birth. First, society tells us that we’re supposed to “bounce back” after having a baby. Really? After sustaining human life within our bodies for 9 months and then birthing those babies from our bodies we’re supposed to just go about our business as if nothing has changed? Right. Yet everything in our society tells us that “bouncing back” is normal and right. From mommy fitness programs promising to help us “lose the baby weight” to poor parental leave policies, we are told that we’d better just get back to how things were before.
sometimes we disconnect from our bodies after birth because we don't recognize them anymore.
Secondly, sometimes we disconnect from our bodies after birth because we don’t recognize them anymore or hate that they look different than before. We don’t want to see the lingering stretch marks or the skin that hangs off our bellies or the scar.
For those of us who’ve experienced traumatic births, it can sometimes feel that our bodies betrayed us or failed us during birth. So we cut ourselves off from our bodies. We reject them. We stop looking at them and we stop listening to them.
Reconnecting with and learning to love and care for my body after birth was a major aspect of healing my birth trauma. I started thinking of my body as a “she” and not an “it.” I started being kind to her and thanking her for her faithfulness to me, for sustaining me and my baby during pregnancy and for healing after my cesarean birth. After all, she had been through a lot too.
I started thinking of my body as a "she" and not an "it."
The reality for a lot of women is that their bodies will not go back to looking how they did before baby. And that’s okay. It’s also okay to grieve the loss of your pre-baby body while still welcoming and accepting this new look. Your life changed permanently after having a baby. So did your body. Don’t be so hard on your body when it’s done so much for you.
Touch or massage your scar. Speak kindly about your body to others. Be gentle to it. Thank it for all it's done. Listen to your body. If something doesn’t feel right, ask your body what’s wrong. And then do something about it. Seek out pelvic floor therapy or Maya Abdominal Massage. Consult a professional for diastasis recti instead of trying to power through ab workouts. See a chiropractor, have your hormone levels checked, pay attention to the food you give to your body, and look at your body in the mirror. Really look at her. Just like the baby you made, she is absolutely perfect.
For additional inspiration on loving your body after birth, visit https://www.4thtrimesterbodiesproject.com/mission/.