Image by rumpleteaser
By Nina, Modern Alternative Pregnancy editor
When I was pregnant, I loved how my body looked. I loved the roundness of my belly – knowing it was supposed to look that way, unlike the way my stomach pooched in its pre-pregnancy state. I reveled in the compliments and enjoyed wearing maternity shirts that accentuated my beautiful body.
Unfortunately, this positive body image wasn’t the norm and as soon as I gave birth, I went back to feeling like I was a failure for not having the “perfect body.” Enter postpartum body hate. It does not mix well with postpartum depression.
The sad thing is, that this is common, expected even. Instead of expressing gratitude for our bodies (and bellies), we learn to disdain them, to do whatever we can to change them and make them go away.
Now, I’m not saying that a desire to get back to our pre-baby size is bad. I think it’s a great motivator and when we are living a healthy lifestyle and nourishing our bodies, they take on a lovely shape. (Which may or may not look like the latest top model’s body).
But what about the interim? Should we only love our bodies when they look exactly like we think they should? There needs to be a shift from loathing our bodies when they aren’t “perfect”, to loving them no matter what they look like. Otherwise, that loathing will be a source of stress that perpetuates an endless cycle of body hate.
We need to love our bodies all the time, regardless of what they look like.
I know that Valentine’s Day is typically a day for couples, but mostly, it’s a day for love. So today, I wanted to share 10 reasons to love your postpartum body (the way it deserves):
1. You had a baby!
Think about the miracle that bringing forth new life is. It’s amazing! And you did that! Your body needed to change to nourish this new baby. It took months for it to do that. It will take a while for it to recover. Take this opportunity to take good care of yourself. You deserve it!
2. You are wonderfully made
God created us in His image. And He gave women the amazing blessing of being able to give birth. Part of that design was a need for our bodies to change during pregnancy, as well as the need to take an equal amount of time to recover. Love that you are wonderfully made according to God’s design.
3. You’re (still) sustaining life
Breastfeeding is a wonderful thing. It allows you to bond with and nourish your baby, further sustaining his life. While you breastfeed, you need to take in even more calories than you did when you were pregnant. Remember that and nourish your body and your baby.
4. You’re voluptuous
Speaking of breastfeeding … One thing I defintely loved about my postpartum body was my ability to fill out a bra. I had friends growing up who lamented their large breasts, but I was part of the “only wearing a bra because it makes me feel like a big girl” crowd. I couldn’t wait to get boobs! And wait I did, until I got pregnant. Wow! Then I had a baby. Woo hoo! I was quite perky during my postpartum days, if ya know what I mean.
5. You’ve got battle scars
I used to put my hands on my naked belly and frown, telling my husband that I didn’t like how it looked one bit. “I do,” he’d reply. “My babies did that. I love your belly.” When I look at my bare stomach and see stretch marks, I see my “battle scars.” I proudly remember what I went through to get them and the sweet children who gave them to me.
6. You’re going through a huge transition
The body is truly a wonderful thing. And, after babies are born, there is so much change going on! Hormones need to balance out, your uterus needs to shrink back down and your body needs time to make this transition. It will end – relish the time to heal and enjoy your baby because it’ll be over before you know it.
7. You’re beautiful
I know it’s hard to feel that way under the messy hair, under-eye bags and clothes you’ve had on for days, but you are. I love that look on a new mom’s face when she gazes into her baby’s eyes. Pure bliss. You are so beautiful, mama.
8. You need extra nourishment
With my first babies, I didn’t want to eat more because I was afraid I would get bigger. I didn’t realize that I needed to eat more, and pay special attention to nourishing my body. The postpartum period requires special nourishment. Healing foods, like home made bone broths are so good for nourishing you during this time. Your body needs to heal and strengthen – give it the love, rest and nourishment it needs to do so.
9.You gave birth
Whether you rocked the natural birth you had planned or ended up with an emergency c-section, you still gave birth to your baby. Celebrate that! It’s an amazing feat that so often gets brushed off by today’s culture. After I gave birth, I felt SO empowered. Seriously, I felt like a rockstar because I had just done something that was so challenging and labor-intensive (hardy, har, har). Remembering that helped so much when I was feeling down about my body.
10. You’re a mother
Being a mother is a special gift. It might not always feel like it, but it is. Whether you have one child or eight, you have been blessed with this challenging and rewarding opportunity to raise loving, godly people. It takes a special person to do that. Just like you.