Positive Body Image: Pregnancy and Postpartum

By Amanda Pare

February 7, 2020

I am a mom to three beautiful little ones, a wife, a fitness and nutrition advocate and a Registered Nurse, certified in both Alberta and Saskatchewan. As a labor and delivery and postpartum nurse with more than seven years of hands-on medical experience, I have had the pleasure of supporting hundreds of families in welcoming new babies into the world. Through it all, I have played a part in stories of incredible joy and unbelievable hardship.

You’re pregnant and your body is embarking on a journey to grow a human being; this is one of the most amazing things your body will ever do! There are some big changes your body goes through in pregnancy that can make you feel amazing one moment and unpleasant the next. Your hormones are changing, your weight is going up, your body is stretching and you are experiencing all sorts of new feelings and sensations. It can feel overwhelming and exciting all at the same time.

One of the biggest postpartum mind shifts that new mamas need to make is not that we need to get back to our pre-baby bodies, but that we need to learn and love this new body that gave us this incredible baby.

The pre-baby body is unrealistic for most postpartum women who are getting very little sleep, dealing with hormonal shifts, and are still healing from their vaginal or surgical birth all while focusing their efforts on their new role as a mama.

Appreciate your body where it is at and take it one day at a time. No one is expecting a new mom just to bounce back after having a baby. You need to take care of yourself and your new sweet bundle.

It is important to understand what is going on with your postpartum body and how it will function differently. We need to honour our bodies postpartum, as they just grew and birthed a human being. There is nothing more amazing than this, this is one of the most beautiful times in your life. Your body goes through a huge amount of stress and pain to grow and birth your child. Mama, you are strong and fierce!

Often, people we encounter will comment about your body. It will be openly talked about, that’s how it is. I remember wondering why they felt the need to comment on MY body, I mean I didn’t ask them to and sometimes their comments left me feeling a sense of doubt or self-consciousness.

Don’t compare your pregnant or postpartum body to anyone. Everyone’s body is different, and everyone’s journey is different. Give yourself some grace and do what serves you best.

Here are some tips to help you love your body postpartum:

  • Use positive self-talk through journaling or writing down what you love about yourself and things you appreciate about what your body has done and put them somewhere you can find them when you need a little assurance. Positive reinforcements provide a boost when you have doubts. Often a quick friendly reminder is all it will take to get your positive thoughts back on track. Surround yourself with people who support you wherever you are at.
  • Have some self-compassion. Ditch the self-defeating talk with empowering phrases like “I love my body, it gave me this beautiful child” or “My body is so powerful” or “My body grew and nourished a human being”.
  • Find joy in moving your body. Release the pressure of feeling like you need to get back in shape to look like someone in a magazine, or to look like your pre-pregnancy self. Find an exercise that is manageable for you with your little one and something that will interest you. Get out of the house for walks, bike rides, swimming, or try a gym, or a fitness class or play a sport that interests you. Do it for your mind, body, and soul. Live in your body for today. Acknowledge your body for what it has done and challenge it for what it is capable of doing.
  • Focus on your health and wellbeing. Setting small goals for yourself is a great way to stay committed and makes it easier for you to achieve your goals. Instead of obsessing over your appearance or the scale, focus your efforts on making lifestyle changes like healthier eating habits, taking time to focus on yourself, take care of your body, healthy sleep habits and exercising for you. Instead of looking at the numbers on a scale, start counting the number of steps you are taking. Learn how to cook healthier meal options and share ideas with family or friends.
  • Break from reality and do something good for yourself. Self-care is part of living a happy and healthy lifestyle and make it guilt-free. Let someone care for your baby so you can take a nice bath or go for a massage. Maybe this is buying a new outfit that is comfortable and fits, helping to build your confidence.
  • Unplugging from social media as we tend to compare our lives to others on social media. Looking through other photos of dream vacations, the perfect family or celebrities who look amazing post-baby can prompt us to compare our bodies, lives and eating patterns to those of others. This can have a negative impact on us and our lives, remember we are trying to stay positive.

Positive Body Image: Pregnancy and Postpartum

Every day you are the one who has control over the relationship you have with your body.

Focus on the non-scale victories. How do you feel overall? How do your clothes fit? How can you move your body in a way that you weren’t able to 2 weeks ago? Find what brings you joy and if it doesn’t then move on to the next thing.

If you need help with getting your family on the right track for sleep, reach out to a Mama Coach in your area so they can help!

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