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Challenge: Taking Care of YOU

How I Came to Love My Post-Partum Body

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Your body, post-baby, is probably a little different than it was pre-baby. And, frankly, there’s really good reason for that — the baby. But it’s not unusual to need an adjustment period to get used to your new body.

When I was pregnant, I didn’t really put much thought into how I would have to adjust post-partum, let alone how I’d feel about my body. I had vague ideas about playing with and nursing a newborn, but I never really figured on just how completely a child changes your life — and your body with it.

What You Can Do

Learning just how much your body and mind are capable of is an amazing feeling. You literally just grew an entire human being and then ejected it so it could live independently of yourself. Or at least, a little bit more independently.

You’ll withstand sleep deprivation, some of the biggest fears you’ve ever had, and more unexpected challenges than you can possibly imagine. Take some time and revel in the awe of that. It’s amazing, and it’s a healing process.

How You Speak Matters

When dealing with a newborn, you know they don’t really understand you. But they pick up on inflection and body language very, very fast. So watching yourself in the mirror, speaking negatively, wishing to look like other people, that all rubs off on them. Keeping that kind of negative rhetoric up is exhausting.

So I stopped doing any of that. It didn’t happen overnight or anything, but eventually I realized that I hadn’t compared myself to anyone else in a long time. Instead of groaning and complaining about how clothes looked on me, I tried to find something positive to say. And if I slipped and said something negative, I followed it up by mentioning what I could do to improve it.

Oh Those Changes to Your Bewbs!

If you breastfeed or not, pregnancy is guaranteed to give you a bit of a chest growth spurt. Some people gain as much as 3 or 4 cup sizes. Unfortunately, this is one side effect that doesn’t last, but many people think it’s nice while it does. Hopefully your boobs won’t grow so much that you feel like tipping over.

In my case, I enjoyed having larger boobs, but it wasn’t a make or break kind of thing. I breastfed for a long time, so they weren’t really sexy anymore. They were useful, which was great, but the appeal of having larger breasts gets lost in the amazingness of what they can actually do.

You’re Still Growing

Especially if you’ve just had a baby, you’ve still got a great deal of transition to go through. My child is now a walking, talking toddler, and he’s still teaching me plenty. No matter how good or bad you feel about your body right now, that’s liable to change. Your body will change, you will change, what appearance means to you will change.

Exercise is Your Friend

Once your doctor gives you the go-ahead, getting some regular exercise is vital. It’ll help you slim down and all that jazz, but it’s more important than looking good. Exercise helps you to feel good, too. It helps tire you out, and it can give you a chance to get out of the house and do something just for you. What you do will depend, but gentle exercise is a good place to start.

I found good luck with yoga and hydrotherapy. Everyone knows about yoga, but hydrotherapy and pretty much any kind of aquatic fitness are great. I actually got into it while I was pregnant because I was so swollen everywhere and felt so heavy. The water can take away up to 90 percent of your body weight. After birth, the exercises helped while I was still swollen, too tired to trust myself not to fall over, and just wanted to feel lighter for a bit.

Learn to Meditate

Time to relax is one thing new parents simply don’t get much of. Setting up a time for you to have some quiet, peaceful time where you don’t do anything for anyone except yourself can make a huge difference. If body issues are something you’re struggling with, then meditating on those specific issues can also help you come to terms with them. Meditation is powerful. Let it help you work through it if you can.

You’re a Tiger-Mama

If you didn’t get stretch marks from pregnancy, then you are in the minority. If you did, then they are something to revel in. If part of your post-partum body includes stretch marks, then do your best to take some pride in them. It’s something you might not be able to do right away.

I’m still working on it. I still don’t really love them, but I certainly don’t hate them like I used to. I really had to work on accepting them as part of the journey to being a parent, and I’m still working on it. Right now, we’re okay.

Being Healthy Isn’t Just for You

How you eat, how you exercise, how you talk about yourself, these are all things your child now sees. If your child sees you snacking on chips and brownies, they’ll want to eat those things too. But if your kid sees you eating cucumbers and carrots with hummus, that’s what they’ll want. When they’re little, your kid’s biggest desire is to be just like you. Be a role model in what you eat, and yes, you might slim down. But more importantly, you’ll be healthy.

For me, I found out that my son had a milk allergy when he was 6 months old. Suddenly, we couldn’t have milk of any kind in the house. He got covered in hives from it, even if I just had milk in my coffee and then kissed him. So, we went on a new cooking adventure:

  • We couldn’t eat out anymore
  • We couldn’t have most prepared meals
  • We had to learn how to cook in a way that took milk out of the equation

It was a challenge. But we really started eating a lot better. No baked goods, no cheese, no frozen pizzas. Our “fast food” became fruit and salad. Keep an open mind, and try to teach your child how to cook. If nothing else, you’ll learn, too.

Making peace with yourself isn’t something that happens overnight. And it’s absolutely fine to mourn the loss of your pre-baby body. The key is not to get stuck in mourning it. Get up, get moving, and do what you need to. You’ll find peace with yourself sooner and feel better while doing it.

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