"Are you pregnant and struggling with the changes to your growing body? Or maybe you’ve recently had a baby and, instead of feeling blissful, are overcome with negative emotions about your post-pregnancy body? You’re not alone. Studies have shown that many women struggle with negative postpartum body image after giving birth — even many years later.
Of course, we aren’t surprised by this. We live in a society that promotes, expects and celebrates the perfect female body… but those idealistic expectations and pursuits can persist even after a woman has a baby. From all the “perfect images” of new moms on social media to unrealistic movie and television portrayals of postpartum women to slimmed down pics of our favorite celebs in gossip mags mere weeks after they gave birth, women are literally inundated with messages about the importance (and ease?) of “bouncing back after baby.”
I remember just a few weeks after giving birth to my firstborn, I was flipping through a People magazine and saw an article praising a female celebrity for being back to her pre-baby body weight shortly after giving birth, and I felt instantly defeated.
Not only was I nowhere near looking like I did before pregnancy, but I was also completely sleep deprived and constantly tending to and nursing my fussy newborn… I couldn’t fathom getting off the couch, let alone working out. Not to mention, when I looked down at my body, all I could see was a poochy belly with excess, saggy skin, stretch marks and newfound skin problems (hello, adult acne!).
Simply put, my body felt so foreign and odd. I didn’t recognize myself.
The reality is pregnancy changes our bodies (and brains!) in a variety of ways, and having realistic expectations about that is important. Our skin stretches, some of us (myself included) experience abdominal muscle separation (diastasis recti), our hips widen, our bones get bigger, our breasts change density and shape, our feet grow (!!)… Shall I go on?
And though this is all supposed to happen — our bodies have to expand and shift in profound ways to develop, make room for and grow another human — many of us can’t help but feel frustrated, insecure and even ashamed about the way our bodies look after we give birth.
Becoming a mom, like any transition in life, can be hard on the body and the mind. The postpartum period comes with so many unknowns, and it may feel like you don’t have any control over your body (and perhaps in your new role as a mom), but please try to remember: you have the power to make a healthy shift in your mindset and life."
The above excerpt is from Lucie's List and written by Marissa Bader. We hope you'll join us as we continue to share helpful information and encouragement on this topic. Stay tuned!