Despite what magazine cover stories may suggest, if you've just given birth, the return of your pre-pregnancy body is not just a matter of diet and exercise. For most women, some things about their pre-pregnancy body are a thing of the past. After you've given birth, even once your abdominal muscles have recovered and your uterus is back to its normal size, chances are you will not look exactly the way you did before your baby. Wider hips, a softer stomach, and stretch marks, to name a few, are completely normal, and are absolutely nothing to be ashamed of.
While motherhood marks the beginning of your relationship with your baby, it is also the start of a new relationship with yourself. Recognizing your body has changed is the easy part; accepting this fact can be much more challenging. Below are some important points to consider as you navigate the journey toward loving your post-baby body.
After approximately 3 months, your baby weight loss may slow or even plateau. This is entirely normal and does not mean you should be convinced that any extra weight is there to stay. Be patient.
While exercise is a healthy way to manage stress, get a change of scenery, and increase your confidence, it is important to listen to your body. Many healthcare providers recommend waiting 6 weeks after vaginal delivery and 6 to 8 weeks after a C-section, but you should only begin exercising when you feel ready. Start with walking or gentle yoga and go from there. Focus not on what you looked like before your baby, but on everything your body is still capable of. It's also important to check in with your healthcare provider about types and amounts of exercise you do as your body re-adjusts after pregnancy and delivery.
Try your best to channel any negative energy about your body into gratitude for what it has given you. When you need a reminder to treat yourself with a little more compassion, look into your baby's eyes and remember this special little thing that you made!
It's not always easy to embrace your post-baby body, but it is never too late to be gentle with yourself. One of the most important things you can do as a mother is to take good care of yourself, which will also help you take the best care of your baby. Don't be afraid to make yourself a priority!
Among the many challenges that motherhood brings, acceptance of your new body is often among the most difficult. This will take time and patience, but you will learn to use the physical changes of your body as a source of empowerment and to love yourself just the way you are.