It’s the time of the year when many families head off to the south to enjoy a little warmth at the end of a long winter. Of course, this means it’s also time to shop for a new bathing suit – a stressful task for most women but especially if you’re a new mom.
We asked three different moms to talk about how they eventually came to terms with their own bodies after giving birth. All three learned to love themselves just as they are and wish to reassure all moms-to-be that change is okay, naturally.
I don’t know about you, but before having my kids, I don’t think I had actually seen a woman’s post-baby body. My few friends who already had kids had never spoken about their experience, and I never had the opportunity to notice how their bodies had changed.
To be honest, after giving birth, I did not jump into a bikini and head straight to the beach. But when I wrote about it on my blog, I was flooded with a ton of comments that ranged from “I thought I was all alone!” to “If other women showed off their imperfections, I would dare to as well!” and “So why do we hide our stomachs even when we’re among friends?”
The outpouring really struck me – they were absolutely right. There was something completely freeing about “showing” your body after giving birth. Not just in a bikini, but in a general, everyday way.
What is beauty after all? Surely part of that answer is the incredible ability to bring a new life into this world.
Personally, one thing I find whether you are pregnant or have already given birth is that a woman’s body is suddenly a part of the public domain.
There is so much pressure on moms. We have to fit into our jeans the week after giving birth. But who says so? No one. Everyone knows that maternity pants are so much more comfortable. ;)
We only get one life and one body to live it in. The trick is to accept that there is no perfect body. If we don’t accept the one we’ve got, no one is going to do it for us.
It’s crucial that we change the way we think, but, above all, let’s start asking the right questions. Instead of “Do I look like I want to disappear underneath a one-piece bathing suit?”, let’s ask, “Is this the piece I really want to wear?” or “Do I feel okay in this?”
Have you ever wondered why it is so much easier to be kinder to others than to ourselves?
We reassure our friend who frets over her “flabby post-baby tummy” with soothing words like “It’s hardly even noticeable!” And we tell her not to be so hard on herself, especially when “It’s barely been two months since you gave birth… Give yourself time!” But when it comes to our own body, we are merciless.
Throughout your pregnancies, you have to learn to apply a little of that empathy you show others to yourself. I believe my kids helped me to do that. Because when you’re in front of the mirror and you’re making a list of all the things you would love to change about your body, all that inner criticism turns into something more loving when your little girl comes running into the room, looks at you with admiring eyes and says, “Mommy, you’re so beautiful.” I find I am less harsh with myself now. Mind you, I can still be hard on myself, but not like before.
By being unkind to yourself you open the door and let others in. You imagine everyone is judging you, disparaging you, because, of course, only you deserve every last criticism.
My partner has been my biggest ally in helping me find peace with my body. He still looks at me the same way he did when we first met – with the same tenderness and love. He still gives me compliments; in fact, perhaps even a few more than before. It is so important to be surrounded by people who support you and that you remain open to their love.