For many women, becoming a mother brings immense joy. Motherhood isn’t all sunshine and rainbows, though. Most moms have experienced looking in the mirror and not recognizing themselves anymore.
It’s hard to see past the image and temper it with how far you’ve come.
Tips for overcoming postpartum body struggles
Here are some realistic ways to practice self-care (and self-love) when struggling with your body image after birth.
1. Practice positive affirmations
Take a few minutes out of your busy day to say nice things about yourself. Practicing positive affirmations about motherhood and your postpartum body will help reframe your negative thoughts.
Turn self-talk such as, “I hate my stomach,” into “My body grew a human being. It’s OK for it to look different.”
Affirmations are a quick and powerful way to fit in self-care. Write out a few that resonate with you and practice them in the shower or while feeding your baby, making dinner, and drifting off to sleep. The more you say these phrases, the better you’ll internalize them.
2. Try journaling
Journaling is another excellent way to get out of your head. Rather than stew on your negative feelings, channel your thoughts onto paper. Try a free write to let everything out, and don’t edit yourself. Use this time to process your emotions.
Buy a guided journal filled with questions and topic starters if looking at a blank page is intimidating. Many companies even sell ones that are specific to wellness and motherhood.
- The First 90 Days After Birth: A Self-Care Journal
- The Five-Minute Journal for Daily Gratitude
- Gratitude Journal for Women
A gratitude journal is a quick way to refocus on everything you’re thankful for and crowd out negative thoughts.
3. Take a break from social media
Social media is a highlight reel. All new moms have their problems, so nobody has it all together. Social media is filtered and edited — real life is much messier. Take a break if you feel like scrolling makes you believe anything other than your body’s amazingness.
Fill your feed with influencers who inspire you and make you want to move forward from your body insecurities.
Unfollow any accounts that fill your head with negative self-talk. Moms are amazing, and you’re no different. Fill your feed with influencers who inspire you and make you want to move forward from your body insecurities.
Another tactic would be to get away from social media altogether. Do something more productive than scrolling, like listening to a podcast.
4. Live in the moment
Socializing with other adults and getting out in public is an essential component of self-care for new moms. Spending time out of your home with friends and loved ones will go a long way toward improving your mental health.
It can be difficult at first to learn how to time feedings and naps so you can get away for a while, but for many moms, that isn’t the most troublesome hurdle.
Your body looks different now, but that doesn’t have to stop you from enjoying your life. Your body is miraculous, so flaunt it.
5. Wear clothes that fit right now
Your body will shift and change during the postpartum period. It’s normal to have a different shape after giving birth. Rather than continuing to wear your maternity clothes or trying to fit into your pre-pregnancy wardrobe, get some things that work for you right now.
Keep shopping costs to a minimum, and select new pieces carefully.
If you have the room, store any clothing that doesn’t fit your current body. You don’t need those negative feelings every time you open your closet.
Keep shopping costs to a minimum, and select new pieces carefully. Stick to neutrals or a basic color scheme so your clothes will be easy to mix and match. This way, you’ll be able to create many outfits with fewer pieces.
6. Get ready for the day
After your new baby’s first few weeks of survival mode, you’ll start to reach a new normal. Make getting ready part of your morning routine if you want to begin feeling like yourself again.
Trying out a new skincare routine can be a great way to pamper yourself while taking care of your body’s largest organ.
You’ll feel much better about your body if you take extra time to brush your hair and teeth, get dressed in clothes you love, and put on some makeup (if you want). You don’t have to get fancy, but in under 10 minutes, you can pull yourself together and be ready for whatever the day brings.
After pregnancy, you might find that your skin has seen drastic changes, whether it be dryness or new acne. Trying out a new skincare routine can be a great way to pamper yourself while taking care of your body’s largest organ.
If you’re concerned about putting toxins into your skin while breastfeeding, look for natural remedies or even product-free solutions.
7. Ditch the scale
Women in advertising and the news make new moms feel like they need to return to their pre-baby weight and body type shortly after giving birth, but that isn’t realistic.
Prioritize your well-being, and your body will naturally begin to feel better.
Celebrities have a whole team of people to help them accomplish those lofty goals, which isn’t necessary or feasible for the average mom.
Health is far more important than weight loss. Prioritize your well-being, and your body will naturally begin to feel better. Let the doctors monitor your weight at postpartum checkups. They’ll let you know if they see anything concerning. Until then, don’t worry about it.
8. Get proper nutrition
Now isn’t the time to cut calories. You and your baby need extra nourishment at this phase of your life. Help your body function at peak performance by fueling it properly. Focus on adding whole foods and plenty of protein, and healthy fats.
Now isn’t the time to cut calories.
Try a grocery delivery service to make getting healthy food more accessible. Write a list of healthy meals and snacks you love that will help you feel good.
Read next: Five Ways to Improve Postpartum Energy with Food
9. Move your body
Getting some movement each day will improve your mood and your body. Do what feels good to you at the moment. Slow walks are lovely since you can take your baby with you and let them nap. Dancing is a fun activity that also gets your heart pumping.
Exercise can help you avoid postpartum blood clots, but you should check with your doctor before doing more physical activity. Wait until your six-month checkup to do anything more vigorous than walking.
Note: if you have diastasis recti, your abdominals will need more healing time and possibly physical therapy.
10. Schedule beauty appointments
After nine months of growing a human being and going through delivery, you deserve some pampering. Plan a time for a trusted loved one to come to your home and babysit so you can get some much-needed time to yourself.
Do whatever will make you feel your best. Perhaps a fresh haircut would add some pep to your step. Get a massage to ease your tension, and add a facial to improve your postpartum skin. You can spare one hour for a beauty appointment, and your family and friends will love the opportunity to bond with your little one while you’re out.
11. Prioritize sleep
Your mood suffers, and negative self-image rears its ugly head when you’re sleep-deprived. However, a good night’s sleep is nearly impossible for new moms. Luckily, there are some things you can try to make prioritizing your beauty rest a little easier.
You may need to turn in much earlier than before to make up for hours lost in the night.
The tried and true “sleep when the baby is sleeping” has stuck around for a reason. When your little one drifts off in the morning and afternoon, lie down for a quick snooze. Don’t nap in the evening, or you’ll be too awake to sleep at night.
Since your baby wakes many times in the night, you aren’t getting as many hours of sleep even if you go to bed and wake up at the same time as you used to. You may need to turn in much earlier than before to make up for hours lost in the night.
12. Talk to a professional
Taking care of your mental well-being is just as important as your physical health. If you’ve tried self-care and still have negative feelings about yourself and your body, or if your thoughts escalate, please see a mental health professional. Postpartum depression is common for women, affecting one in seven new moms.
The best way to get better is to talk to a therapist and get treatment as soon as you notice something is different. Even if you don’t have postpartum depression, discussing your feelings with someone outside your circle of family and friends can be a relief.
Try to be kind to your new body
The best thing you can do for yourself right now is to give yourself some grace. You’ve come so far. You carried your child for nine months, gave birth, and are in the midst of a very trying time — both physically and emotionally.
You’ll come out on the other side of this with a renewed sense of self-worth. In the meantime, take good care of yourself and be kind.