Loving Your Body- My Postpartum Reflection
Stretch marks, loose skin, a softer midsection, swelling, bloating, dark circles, stitches and scars are poignant reminders of the beauty and miracle of childbirth.
Even before having children, many women struggle with body image and feeling comfortable in their own skin. This struggle can then be heightened after pregnancy when your body feels, looks and functions differently.
In this blog, I want to share my personal experience as I enter in ‘the fourth trimester’ and learn to navigate motherhood, my body and change of routine and purpose.
Change doesn’t happen overnight, not for me or you… regardless of your fitness.
Even as a woman who is confident in her own body, I have had moments where I felt less fabulous and a little overwhelmed about my journey back to full strength. But there are real pit falls in comparing your body to those you see on social media, women you might train alongside or even your pre-baby body.
Truth. Here is my “insider” perspective. It can be tempting to go down the rabbit hole of being frustrated, but I urge every woman to remember the time it took to grow your beautiful baby and give yourself this time and more to feel back in your body.
Tiffany Hall, celebrity trainer led an incredible Ted Talk which unpacks the pressures many women feel to ‘bounce back’ after pregnancy. Watch it in full if you are looking for some inspiration.
When I think of my pre-baby body, it was achieved and maintained on full night’s sleep, dialled in nutrition, being highly active and hours of time in the gym lifting heavy! At some point I will get back to this place, but when I think about the extra weight I am carrying I reframe them as ‘happy kilograms’. While I was mindful during pregnancy to fuel my body well, I regularly enjoyed walks down the street for an ice-cream, easy take-away dinners and extra serves of potatoes, bread, rice and pasta. And there was pure joy in these moment as I watched my bubba grow!
Practising gratitude is an awesome way to remind yourself of your daily blessings, celebrating the small wines and the incredible miracle to be able to grow a human. Many women only need to look at their bub’s to feel proud AF for the gorgeous little squishy they were able to create, but it is important not to take it for granted. For us, it took 3 years and 2 rounds of fertility treatments to fall pregnant…There is a lot for us to be grateful for! And while sleep deprivation makes us all grumpy and irritable, find time in your morning to take a few deep breathes, wash your face, make yourself a coffee and know that this time will not last forever.
Consumption of Social Media
Hours spent feeding can easily lead to hours spent consuming social media. Unfortunately, studies show that body dissatisfaction worsens after looking at pictures of women with ‘ideal’ bodies. Be mindful of the accounts you follow and how they many you feel and the amount of time you spend on your phone in general. Instead, find a couple of good books or set up a speaker near your feeding area. Reading and listening to podcasts or auto books are a great way to engage you brain and fill your head with positive, intellectual vibes.
Be in Your Own Lane
It is sad to consider that many women are literally not participating in their own lives because they don’t believe they look good enough. We are all unique and everyone’s journey, babies and circumstances are unique. Avoid the comparison trap. Inner chatter is a powerful force that can deeply influence how you view yourself and then how you present to the world. If you ‘catch’ yourself thinking negative thoughts, notice it, name it and try to reframe the thoughts.
Lastly, remember you are the role model and hero in your bubba’s life who loves you wholeheartedly. Go easy on yourself, enjoy the slow moments and be proud that your body did exactly what it needed to do to grow, birth and nurture your little bubs!
Ange Drake is an personal trainer, women’s empowerment coach and fitness blogger in the northern suburbs of Melbourne. She is the director of one of the few womens’ only strength training gyms in Melbourne, 23W. Ange helps women to learn how to use strength based training, nutritional strategies and a positive mindset to transform their bodies, relationship with food and mind.
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