Your Post-Baby Body Will Never Be A Pre-Baby Body Again… and That’s OK!
Two of my least favourite terms in the whole world are pre-baby body and post-baby body. Google ‘pre-baby body’ and you get an astounding 13 000 000 results. ‘Post-baby body’ is even worse, coming in at 50 000 000 results. 63 000 000 results in total, most of them dedicated to showing you the way to have a fabulous post-baby body. We live in a society where it has become a badge of honour if you can erase pregnancy from your body as quickly as possible. Celebrities lead the way of course and society follows dutifully, trying to live up to an image made possible only with personal trainers, chefs, rigorous schedules and of course good lighting, plastic surgery plus in many cases just plain old good genes.
I watched a video clip recently where a mother spoke about how she had to make that transition from “maidenhood to motherhood” in her mind. How she had to realise that a post-baby body can never be a pre-baby body again. I could relate to it so well.
I feared pregnancy. I feared what it would do to my body. I struggled with body image issues for years until I eventually got my head right and arrived at a place of acceptance. It was a beautiful place to be. Shortly thereafter pregnancy happened. I fought back hard, often working out twice a day and counting every single calorie that passed my lips. I gained a modest 12kg and by the time I left the hospital with a new baby in my arms, only 4kg remained. By day 10 I was back into my old jeans. Sounds great doesn’t it? Except it wasn’t. Because even though I eventually got back to my exact pre-baby weight, EVERYTHING was different. Because pregnancy leaves its footprints in the form of c-section scars and stretch marks and flabby skin and stomach muscles beyond repair and cellulite and varicose veins and soft, saggy breasts with no substance to them. And to accept that was hard. So I started hating my body, especially after my second pregnancy, which did me no favours, with all the above “footprints” left behind in an even more vivid way.
And then I rediscovered running. Something I always used to do, albeit reluctantly, simply because I believed it to be the quickest way to lose weight. This time though it became more about enjoying the run than the added benefits of weight loss. I became stronger and I started looking at my body in an entirely new and appreciative way. I would come back from a hard run and marvel at the fact that I had made it. My legs carried me all that way. I even completed my first half-marathon. I made it my mission to replace every negative thought I had about my body with a “strong” thought. To focus on what my body could do (and has done), rather than how it looked. With time and with some effort to change my focus, I grew to accept my new ‘mummy body’.
So here with my top tips for appreciating that life-giving post-baby body:
- Throw away your scale. Especially if you are obsessively weighing yourself every day. Your worth lies in so much more than a number on the scale. And you might arrive at your magical number and still not be happy.
- For your own sanity, stop reading women’s magazines. Yes, even the Women’s Health. There are almost zero images in most magazines that represent women in a way you can relate to. If you love reading, follow a blog (I know a great one, hint hint!) or borrow something inspirational at your local library. And spend the money on something more worthwhile (like coffee) or donate it to a charity.
- Find the “thing” that makes you appreciate your body for what it can do. It might be dancing with both your kids in your arms, marvelling at the strength of your “guns” or it might be full on bodybuilding. Your choice, just find it.
- If you wouldn’t say it to a friend, don’t say it to yourself. Look at yourself in the mirror and compliment yourself on your beautiful smile or your strong calves and while you are at it, take a long hard look at that funny stomach you now have and thank the skin for all the stretching it did!
And lastly: Remember why you have pregnancy “scars”. Be grateful that you were blessed with a human being growing inside you. Don’t try to erase it, be proud!
Magda is a mother, budding entrepreneur and a dabbler in words. She is originally from South Africa, but Perth became home in 2015. Her happy place is spending time with her husband and two boys, all 3 of them redheads! Most of her spare time goes into washing underpants and putting down toilet seats, but if there’s any left, you will find her with her nose in a book. Other passions include coffee and chocolate and sometimes she runs too. She loves encouraging women to be authentic, ignore the opinions of others and to become the best possible version of themselves.