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Embracing Your Postpartum Body

Rachel O'Reilly

By Aaryn Leineke

There is so much pressure for women to lose their postpartum baby weight. Many first-time mothers imagine they will (or should) “bounce back” to their pre-baby body just after giving birth. It’s important to recognize that it takes six full weeks for your body to recover from birth, to even be able to start “working out” and regaining your physical strength. So, don’t be so hard on yourself. Give yourself the appropriate time to recover. Most importantly, give yourself praise each day for how strong your body was, is and will be for growing, birthing, and now feeding your precious baby.

In the months leading up to birth, and the days shortly after, your body will go through incredible changes -- and all the emotions that come with those changes. Hormones are an incredible things that help us feel good, but they can also cause us to feel sad, hopeless, helpless and lost. As a new mom, remember that it’s okay to ask for help, to accept your body, to embrace your body, and most of all to love your body during the early months of postpartum.

Know that you may still be wearing your pregnancy clothes the first few months after birth. Know that your hips and joints may feel jiggly and unstable during your first efforts to work out. Once your body has recovered from birth, treat it with care and ease into workouts, as if you were still growing your baby inside your womb. Take a look at a recent post Keeping Fit While Pregnant here for ways to ease back into your workouts. Swimming, walking, yoga and light weight-lifting are all good to start with. If you are breastfeeding, know that your body will need the extra calories to endure feedings throughout the day and night, so don’t diet or fast to get rid of your precious, well-earned weight. Do stay conscientious of what you put in your body and continue to stay away from processed foods, sticky fats and sugars. Keeping a well-balanced healthy diet will help with your emotions and physical recovery from birth through postpartum.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, sleep deprived, and a little lost on how to get your bearings again, remind yourself that it’s not only okay, but important to ask for help when you need it. Maybe that means hiring a postpartum doula to help with nighttime feedings, while you rest more. Or someone to help with daytime chores, so you can find time to get to a yoga class, or go for a walk with your dearest friend. Use that call for help simply to take a nap. Rest, nutrition, and love for yourself is what will bring the energy to get your body and its strength back.

Your body will become your own again, but it’s important to remember that it will always be different than it was pre-baby. And for good reason! Admire your post-baby body for the new life it created. Be grateful for it, for bringing you a beautiful child.

Do you have any struggles or motivating words to share about embracing your post-baby body? Let us know in the comments!