Updated: Mar 29, 2020
There sure is a lot of annoying content out there about women needing to get their "body back" immediately following the arrival of the tiny human they just pushed out their hoo-haw, isn't there? UGH, it's suffocating. Let me just preface this article by saying... you do not owe any different version of yourself to ANYONE, including your own personal expectations, at ANY time. ESPECIALLY right after you just pushed out a brand new human that your incredible body just created from scratch. Um, can we just pause here for a hot minute? YOUR BODY CREATED A HUMAN FROM SCRATCH. HOW F*CKING COOL IS THAT!?
You owe nobody an explanation of how your body has changed over time, let's get that out of the way. Not current you vs. 10 years ago you, not current you vs. before you got pregnant you, not current you vs. when you got married you, NOT EVER. It seems there's some unspoken rule that women are supposed to somehow be exact replicas of the people we were 76 months ago. (Just kidding, I know pregnancy is only 9 (ish) months. It feels like 76 months though, doesn't it? Lol.) You aren't going to magically shape shift into the exact same human you were before giving birth. Just like your baby isn't going to stay EXACTLY the same size and shape as he/she is upon entering the world. WE CHANGE, YO. Oh and also, there are women who DO experience that infamous "bounce back" immediately, because they only gained 16 pounds during pregnancy and THEIR GENETICS have simply done the work for them. That's just reality. Sorry if that isn't the hand you were dealt, but there's no need to judge or shame Becky for her lucky genetics. (Love you, Becky!) (Another flower isn't any less beautiful... as they say.) Let's not throw shade at each other, shall we? Mmkay. Good. Where were we? Oh yeah, you're probably wondering when the heck I'm going to get to the part about loving your body after baby. Sorry. *ahem* I was trying to set the stage; I think I've accomplished that, eh? The number one *thing* you should know about loving your body after baby, is that you will likely be loving a CHANGED body after baby. And you'll be learning to do it while a pint-sized human is either suckling at your actual (red/scabby/painful/busted) teet, or laying on your body while they're suckling at a bottle. SO THERE'S THAT. Acknowledge that your body is D I F F E R E N T. Then acknowledge that IT'S OKAY for your body to be exactly how it is, in this moment, right now. Still carrying 30 pounds you didn't have before pregnancy? IT'S OKAY. Legs swollen and puffy? IT'S OKAY. Vag look a little different? (...I mean, if you were brave enough to check) IT'S OKAY. Boobs looking off? IT'S OKAY. Acknowledge it and let it be. Step two, new-mom-who-is-beautiful-exactly-as-she-is, is to RELEASE the pressure to conform to society's unrealistic body standards under anyone else's timeline. Er, like, at all. You don't need to look like anyone else expects you to. Ever, yo.
I literally didn't feel ready to FULLY focus on myself until my baby was like 487 months old. (Just kidding, again. Admit it, you know it's funny when new parents continue to declare their child's age using months or weeks as the measurement... it's also funny when Carol posts on Facebook about Johnny's 7 week update, and apologizes profusely to "everyone" for it being A FEW DAYS LATE, like we've all been sitting around on the edges of our seats waiting to see a *new* photo that looks strangely similar to Johnny's 6.3 week photo...) For the record, I did the exact thing I just poked fun at. 🤣#NEWMOMLIFE #NOSHADE Anyway, until my kid was about 18 months, I was just surviving. 12 months of maternity leave left me grossly underprepared to re-enter the workforce with an official passing grade on the whole motherhood thing. (That's another thing... nobody TELLS YOU that you're doing it right. Like, we go through like 20 years of school where our indicator of success has always been "You scored __/100. You get a B+. That's a 87% in algebra." Then you become a mom and you're like... okay so... how am I doing? Can I get a progress report? Does this look okay? What's my grade in the category of diaper changing? Did I fail the "handing a slippery baby just out of the bath" assignment? Because it feels like I did.) Getting back to work and making time for everything important in my life was overwhelming, and the easiest thing to slip was my own self-care. So it took me a while to be at all concerned with getting "back" to a somewhat "normal" health routine. And I'm not talking about 6-packs and visible quads here, people. Know this. Step three to learning how to love your postpartum bod, is that you likely have a *new* normal. You also have a relatively predictable "set point" weight that your body will fluctuate at, if you just mind your movement and eat nourishing foods at modest proportions. So there's no need to be on a strict 7-day workout schedule where you torture yourself for 2 hours a day and eat mostly protein shakes. I say this from experience, because that's what I did when I determined it was "time" to get "back" to how I was "before". It was "not" worth it. (Joey from FRIENDS, anyone? "I don't know what [air quotes] this means" 🤣 Couldn't resist.) Listen honey, here's the special bonus FOURTH way to love your body after baby: It's your body, and it's your choice to love it.
It's that simple. Ask yourself: WHY do you hate the body you have? Because you're comparing it to someone else's (ANYONE else, celebrity or real-life person's) body? Because you aren't living a healthy version of your life? Because it's sitting there, minding it's own business, innocently housing cellulite or stretch marks? P.S., it's not your poor body's fault you have cellulite or stretch marks. It's not YOUR fault, either. That shit is NORMAL and happens to most of us EITHER WAY. 98% of women have cellulite. That's not one of my signature exaggerated joke-stats, either. That's legit. But our perfection-driven, media-obsessed culture has you believe that you can't POSSIBLY live a happy life with cellulite, and shows you only marketing images of smooth skin and cellulite-removing product advertisements. IT'S A GIMMICK! EVEN THE WOMAN IN THE AD FOR THE CELLULITE REMOVING CREAM PROBABLY HAS CELLULITE! IT WAS JUST PHOTOSHOPPED OUT! I swear. So the decision to love your body exactly as-is has to come from YOU. Yes, you can have fitness or weight-loss goals. Yes, you can keep an eye on your nutrition. Yes, you can desire to change your body in some way. But taking any of those E V O L U T I O N steps must, and I can't stress this enough, MUST stem from a loving perspective. As I explain thoroughly in my book MOMFIDENT AS F*CK, you cannaaaat hate yourself into loving yourself. You just can't. Love does not grow from a perpetual state of hate. So? What can you love about your current body RIGHT NOW? What gratitude can you muster for your body RIGHT NOW? What's something good you can do for your body RIGHT NOW? Start there. And, if you're now sitting here like... WTF Courtney, I need some more tangible shit to help me overcome this long-rooted feeling of loathe I have towards my body... then I have one more suggestion for you. Snag my e-book LOVE YOUR #MOMBOD (NOW!) and get 5 Modules of worksheets and audio-guided tasks that will help you overcome how you currently feel. If you enjoy completing tangible assignments, and wouldn't be weirded out by having me whisper into your earbuds, this program is for you. 👊🏼👊🏼👊🏼 You can also access Episode 61 of The Momfidence Podcast fo FREE and it outlines some 5 additional ways to actually love your body, right now! ONE LOVE, MAMA. XO Courtney