Embrace your postpartum body

Who has never had doubts about their body and who has not gone through those moments of psychological distress during and after childbirth? It has happened to all of us and sometimes we cling to that image of the body we had before we became pregnant, forgetting that throughout our lives we never stop changing, evolving, constantly becoming something different. While we may not be able to avoid those mentally difficult moments sometimes, we can always develop tools to learn how to deal with those experiences and come out stronger and more aware of how wonderful our bodies are. Here are a few ideas that can help you with your personal perception:

Start by understanding and appreciating the amazing things that your body can do

This idea is not restricted to the ability to create, develop and deliver life, in fact, it involves many more things. From being able to run a marathon to healing yourself after childbirth, the body is an incredible machine that allows you to enjoy life with everything it has to offer. Your body, more than an image, is the vehicle that enables you to play with your children, see them, touch them and smell them (yes, I know you’re thinking about that wonderful smell you feel on their heads when you hold them in your arms).

Now that you are a mom, be aware that offering the gift of life is not a trivial thing, it is perhaps one of the most amazing things your body can do. It is something that goes beyond what is intelligible, because only those who have given birth manage to comprehend the magnitude of what it means, and that is something that not all women have the privilege of experiencing. At no point did you give the order to your body “we must make a hand, now a leg, etc.”, it already knew what to do and nine months later you met face to face with your little one, now isn’t that the most incredible thing?

It’s completely out of this world to imagine how a couple of cells can come together and create something as complex as a human being, and to have every part of your body working together to create that new life. Giving your body credit for everything it does for you is just the beginning of how amazing you are and how grateful you can be to yourself.

Change your definition of the expression “being in shape”

Being in shape does not mean having rock-hard abs, an hourglass figure or any other idea taken out of a Photoshop-edited magazine cover. We live in the information era, which means in essence, the era of advertising. They repeat to us the same thing a thousand times a day, and we began to convince ourselves that being in shape meant being in the gym 5 hours every day, eating salads and being 20 years old. And the problem is that, if advertising does not make us feel that we are missing something, then we will not be motivated to buy, so maybe we should review and rethink that definition.

I suggest that you approach the phrase “being in shape” as the mere fact of being healthy and putting an emphasis on your personal well-being, for example, being able to get up in the morning with enough energy in order to take care of your daily life and that of your family, doing a little workout to improve your mood rather than lose weight, eating a balanced diet to improve your energy levels rather than counting calories, exploring new things such as a yoga class to improve your flexibility, Kegel exercises to improve your sex life, having a healthy enough body to be able to hold your children in your arms when they want to be pampered. 

“Being in shape” is being aware that there are so many things we take for granted and that if we don’t act today on our health, in the future we might not be able to enjoy the simplest and most beautiful things in life again. The body is not just an aesthetic object, it is the shell that allows us to come into contact with everything around us, it is the wrapping of our existence, and we must take care of it in order to take full advantage of it.

Stop comparing yourself to mass-market imagery.

The image we usually see in the media is simply the way through which marketing campaigns try to sell us something, whether it is a product, an idea, a lifestyle or a public image. Of course, we have standardized them as a society since we are more than used to seeing this kind of images everywhere: from the magazines and websites we consult to the ads in public transportation and, today more than ever, in social networks.

It is always a healthy thing to treat these kinds of images as artificial constructs with specific purposes. They include almost exclusively people for whom their image is part of their professional career, because it is always easier to have a near-perfect image when you have a production team behind you and budgets and editors. People who are paid to spend entire days in the gym and have a whole set of advisors behind them. But the vast majority of women who don’t work in these very specific fields, those who every day in addition to being available for a family and have other types of professional ambitions, have very limited time to spend in pre-production sessions only to be surrounded by their family, friends or colleagues.

Each of us is a unique combination of genetics, eating habits, workouts, sleep cycles, environment and support systems during and after pregnancy, so the way our bodies will respond to a pregnancy is as unique as a snowflake. Start admiring yourself as exactly that, as a unique woman, as someone who goes far beyond a physical image. Focus on the things that make you who you are, those everyday things that make your family and friends love you and see you as unique in their eyes. Just by focusing on the look in your baby’s eyes for a minute, you’ll understand that you are the most magical and admirable being in the world. In the end, your baby, who has no prejudice in his/her head, will be able to give you the most honest answer that anyone will ever give to you, that wordless answer that says, “you are the most beautiful person there is and you deserve all the love in the world”.

Embrace the changes

Your body will undoubtedly change and this will depend to a greater or lesser extent on the conditions that we mentioned before. There are things that will not go back to the way they were before, maybe you have some stretch marks, or your hips or your feet have changed in size, or the shape of your breasts has changed, or your belly has a little bit of loose skin. You can use whatever it is that applies to you as a tool to start appreciating things as they are and see the positive things that exist within those changes.

You will have the motivation to do more sport or have a more balanced diet if you didn’t have one before, you will be able to go shopping for new clothes and renew your wardrobe, or whatever you can think of. It’s not worth staying in the past, understand that as a human being you have evolved, this is another stage of life and now you not only have a new opportunity to relearn to love yourself and renew your relationship with yourself, but also to explore new things, because you, as well as your little one, will continue to evolve every day of your lives. Your body not only changed, but also became stronger and made you stronger. Take advantage of all that renewed love you have thanks to your baby and enjoy it yourself, because being a mother thanks to a pregnancy of your own is a privilege that not all women get and that will make you realize how incredible your body is that allowed you to do it successfully.

Learn positive thinking techniques

When you learn to love yourself, you learn to love all the things that make you unique, those little details that only you can know. Do not hide your body, you have gone through a transition as ancestral as life itself, recognize yourself as a woman, as a creator, as a chameleon, as a magician.

Positive thinking is a skill, and like any other skill, it requires practice in order to be developed. You’re used to being on automatic pilot and that’s why sometimes you are unable to handle your bad thoughts. But don’t worry, you’re not alone; there are countless publications and seminars that explain how to develop this skill, which will not only improve your quality of life, but also that of your baby and the people around you. They will make you stronger mentally and more resilient, you will learn not to focus on the problems but on their solutions, they will make you see that there are more beautiful things in a stretch mark, in a C-section scar, than the negative cliché that some people utter without having any idea about their true meaning. 

Begin by spending 5 minutes in the morning thanking the precious thing you have in your life, two hands to touch your baby, a roof over your head, a cup of coffee and its smell that morning. Do the same thing at night thanking yourself for everything you were able to do during the day. It will only take you 10 minutes a day, do it constantly and I assure you that in a few days you will stop looking at magazine covers with a grimace and instead look at yourself in the mirror with a huge smile. Now you are a mom, so what better opportunity to bathe in the same love that you are giving your little one.