How I Found Acceptance With My Post-Baby Body

By Judy Fox

As females, our physical appearance is often picked apart, not just by other people, but by ourselves too. As the saying goes, we are our own worst critic. 

But the pressure is even worse for new mothers, who are made to feel that they need to return to their pre-pregnancy shape as soon as possible. Hashtags on social media include #BeatTheMomBod and the media seem to be forever reporting on celebrity moms who have got back down to their pre-baby weight in a matter of weeks. 

However, the reality is that these messages are not helpful. It’s an absurd proposal for the average new mom who is sleep deprived and still recovering from childbirth. Equally, it’s still not feasible for many women that are several years postpartum. 

This ludicrous pressure placed on bodies that should be recovering stems from society’s expectations of women. The message is clear and constant – as women we should put our appearance at the top of our priority list, whatever else may be going on in our lives is to be considered an afterthought.  

It’s time we made a stand. 

When you have just given birth and entered motherhood, our priority certainly shouldn’t be on superficiality. Instead, our focus should be on self-care in all areas including physically, emotionally and mentally. As well our motivation to be the best parents we can possibly be. 

During pregnancy our bodies go through some major changes. Incidentally, it’s the one time in a women’s life when dividing fat cells are of benefit. Although fat cells may eventually revert back to their pre-pregnancy state, for some women, this can take a long time. Even after several years have passed, your expectations should be realistic. Pregnancy or not your body would have changed over the years. 

These facts are important to face, as it seems that so many women forever chase something that is not achievable. The real question is how can we move forward in a positive way when society makes us feel that without the body we once had, we are not as valuable? 

Appreciate the New You 

There’s no denying that pregnancy transforms your body in many ways. But why bother continuing to beat yourself up about something that will inevitably impact your self-esteem in such a negative way? 

True happiness will be found by changing your perspective through acceptance. Start by trying to appreciate your new physical appearance. If you can’t achieve that, then compromise with yourself instead – accept your body’s physical state. 

That does not mean having an indifferent attitude towards your body from now on. Indeed you can still make positive improvements to things like stretch marks and adopt a healthy lifestyle. 

Treat Yourself with Kindness 

Societal pressure isn’t going to disappear. The media and beauty industry at large are going to continue pushing their narrative. Equally, we are human so have a strong inclination to compare ourselves to others when we are “calculating” our self-esteem. 

When you do get triggered by these external influencers, don’t resist the urge to deny them. Rather, embrace those feelings of insecurity, but at the same time provide yourself with an empathetic outlook. For instance, tell yourself that these feelings are normal, that you are loved and appreciated as you are. 

This positive and kind approach will help you foster a positive outlook, so that you can pursue those things in your life that provide you with genuine fulfilment. Whether that is exercise, relaxation, or your favourite TV show. 

Redirect Your Anger 

Whenever you experience feelings of anger at your body, whether that be excess weight, stretch marks or sagging boobs, make sure it’s not at yourself. The effects of pregnancy on the body are perfectly natural and should be seen for what they are – a natural part of becoming a mother. 

Direct your anger where it’s deserved – at the current cultural climate. Even so, do these physical differences really mean so much? There are so many other things that are much more valuable and fulfilling, like the relationship you have with your new child, as well as your family and friends. Why allow such a petty thing like minor physical changes get in the way of all of that? Is the cost truly justified? 

Entering motherhood changes us in many ways, physically, emotionally and mentally. We are more than just our physical bodies and our happiness can be found in accepting these new changes, rather than striving to meet society’s expectations. 

Judy Fox is a 32 year old writer and mother of two from Houston. When she’s not busy raising her kids, she loves sharing her experiences in hopes that they help others going through similar experiences.

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