The messages we see around us, tell us that we need to “bounce back” to what we looked like pre-baby. If we can get to a certain number on the scale, then we can start to feel good about ourselves. These expectations can lead us to negative self-talk and body shame, affecting our mental health. We know this is especially true if we struggled with body image prior to pregnancy. It’s important that we stop body shaming our postpartum bodies.
As women, we are conditioned throughout our lives that a certain weight equals health and beauty.
A white centric ideal is the norm as something we are told we must aspire to. This starts at a very young age, first with observing our mothers and how they related to their own bodies, and then with the media. Television shows, movies, magazines, and social media are huge contributing factors. Diet culture benefits from women’s insecurities about themselves, making billions of dollars each year. However, beauty comes in all forms, all colors, all shapes, and sizes.
After I gave birth, I still looked pregnant.
I was told body shaming comments (can we please stop commenting on other people’s bodies!). I can’t tell you how long I wore my maternity clothes because none of my pre-baby clothes fit. I eventually realized that my body had changed in its shape post baby. This doesn’t mean that I didn’t take care of my body. I still exercised by taking walks and doing yoga while eating in a balanced way. My hips and rib cage were wider, and I had a pooch from my emergency c-section. I also knew that I had had a baby, and my body was strong to be able to do so. I got to a point where I didn’t know my size and I didn’t care. I just wanted my clothes to fit, be comfortable, and feel flattering.
I too struggled to accept that my body was different, and it would never be the way it was before. I had to intentionally be kind to myself with the words I told myself. I would ask myself, “Would I rather be a mother with the body I have or have the body I use to and not be a mother?” The answer was clear.
I give this example from my life as a reminder that we must be kind to ourselves. We know that BMI is not a determinant of health and that comments from doctors that rely solely on this can be damaging to our self-esteem.
Body acceptance is a process.
There is no one solution. Here are some thoughts on where to start in order to stop body shaming.
- Start by throwing away the scale.
- Work hard on trying not to compare yourself to others. We all have different bodies and that’s okay.
- Identify the parts of your body that serve you and what parts of your body you like.
- Move into a space of gratitude for who we fully are and the gifts that have been given.
- Look for delight in the world and eventually it will find us without looking.
- Talk to yourself the way you would talk to your children or a friend.
- Give yourself credit for the things you do every day.
- Talk to a trusted friend who is a great listener, who won’t judge, or give you advice.
The transition into motherhood is not an easy one. There are so many changes, and these changes affect us in different ways. My hope is that you will be kind and gentle with yourself on your journey.
If you are looking for support and live in California or Texas please contact me for a free 15 minute chat to see if we would be a good fit in working together.
Please note that this article is for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for medical advice from a doctor or mental health professional.