Having a baby means that your body has gone through changes nothing short of miraculous, but not everyone feels able to celebrate their own postnatal body.
You can finally see your feet – a small but significant event after having a baby – that and being able to actually see while you shave your legs. But before you launch into a bout of promises and resolutions that may be (at best) unobtainable such as, I’m going to look like Victoria Beckham by the end of the month and exercise like Davina, we want you to take stock of what you have actually achieved.
Take a moment to look and really study this beautiful and incredible little human you have grown. You did this. Sure, your partner may have done his bit too, but your body grew and nourished this ‘mini-me’ and for nine months.
Accepting your newly postpartum body
You may have stretch marks where before you had none, you may find sagging skin and thread veins and even a bulging belly, but we would undoubtedly recommend waiting at least three months before starting any intense exercise or strict diet regime. Also, consider the intense hormonal rollercoaster your body is on during the first few weeks after birth.
It’s true the media – and social media, show women who apparently just pop back into place, but in reality, you are never the same postnatally as you were before – you are now an improved and enhanced superwoman. After all, look at what you have done! With a healthy postpartum diet and exercise (go easy at first!), your physical and mental health will improve day by day.
When you see photos of women four days postpartum running/shopping/at award ceremonies, don’t believe it. Getting out of the shower and dressed is achievement enough, trust me!
Read next: Tips for Recovery After a Vaginal Birth
A 2013 survey by the Royal College of Midwives found that women who carried baby weight after delivery suffered from negative self-esteem issues. On top of that, a considerable number felt under pressure to return to their form size and shape. With most women – particularly those without quick access to personal trainers, nutritionists, therapists, and hairdressers – I would say it takes a year to recover from having a baby.
Your baby does not need perfect – they just need you.the naked midwives
And during that time, your body, mental health, and relationships are getting used to a life with a baby. While it may feel challenging at times, this momentous accomplishment needs to be celebrated.
Your body will recover. This one body you have will, if looked after, allow you to feed your baby, run, dance, and jump on the trampoline with your child (if you have done your pelvic floor exercises, that is!), and see your child grow.
Please try to not be so hard on yourself.
Despite having nine months of preparation, becoming a parent always comes as a shock. You set out to have a baby but what you get is a complete and total takeover of your life! Your baby does not need perfect – they just need you.
If you need more support…
If you are having trouble coming to terms with your new life after having a baby, we would strongly recommend you talk to your midwife, health visitor, or doctor. Please do not suffer alone; there are many services to help and work with you.
- In the case of an emergency, call 911
- National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-8255
- Postpartum Support International (PSI): 1-800-944-4773
- Find an IBCLC lactation consultant