Postpartum Body: I Love You
Nine Months Both Ways
It takes nine months to have a baby and nine months to recover. So they say - whoever "They" are. But, when you really get down to it, it's basically true. It does take time to recover your pre-pregnancy body. Now, don't get all caught up with the movie stars and how fast they recover from pregnancy. Many of them don't breastfeed (like you might want to do) and they have an entire staff to help them get back into shape. They have a nanny to look after the baby and a personal trainer to beat them back into shape every single day. And, they probably have a chef to be sure their meals aren't on the fly, like yours might be - especially if you have other little kids in the house, not the mention a husband.
Get Real-Postpartum Body
Sadly, women today are far too influenced by the quick recovery of the stars to gain the perspective that real life just isn't that way. Of course, if you start out with a great personal body image and a good sense of yourself, you're miles ahead of most women. According to Ann Douglas, author of The Unofficial Guide to Having a Baby, "A woman who feels good about herself will celebrate the changes that her body experiences during pregnancy, look forward to the challenge of giving birth, and willingly accept the physical and emotional changes of the postpartum period." We wish that were true of all women - unfortunately, it isn't.
The post-pregnancy changes that have been wrought in your body may leave you feeling less in love with yourself than ever. Your skin may have developed acne, something you may have never experienced before you became pregnant. Your post-partum body may make you cringe when you view it in the mirror. The entire concept of accepting and celebrating the fact that this body was capable of creating another human being may totally escape you at this point. That's okay. It's true of many women. But, that doesn't dilute the truth. Your body is exceptionally brilliant - it can create life. Let that sink in for a moment or two.
Love the One You're With
Maybe one of the best ways to deal with post-partum body is to have loved your body before you got pregnant. That mental state can take you through your pregnancy and through the physical and emotional changes that occur during pregnancy. A positive body image isn't so much about what you look like, but more about how you feel about yourself. Since there are so many body changes that you can't control during pregnancy, a good body image at the beginning makes for an easier journey through the changes.
Once you really get that all of the changes were for the benefit of your baby you will be able to celebrate each change and embrace it - no matter what it looks like.
But then, you arrive on the other side of the pregnancy. The baby is here and you're left with a body that doesn't even vaguely resemble what you went into the experience with. How do you respond?
Nothing is Permanent
It is important to remember that nothing is permanent. You will be able to regain your pre-pregnancy body, but it is going to take some time. When you look at movie stars and see them back into their skinny jeans in what seems to be moments after they gave birth, it can make you made enough to spit. The fact is that they probably worked out hard before they became pregnant, worked out throughout their pregnancy and then were hard at it after the baby was born. That, dear, doesn't represent the real 90 percent of women.
You will get back on track. You are disciplined and you will work out. You just have to regain your equilibrium, balance your schedule, and give yourself time enough to gather your thoughts. Once you do that, then you can make an effective plan to regain your body. Actually, you never really lost it - you gave it to your baby to use as a place to grow and be nurtured. What greater gift can you give?
If you want to know about how exercise can help you out during this time, check us out in our Postpartum Section.