Fear Of The Postpartum Body

postpartum body - image of a female from shoulders down, sitting cross legged with a shirt tucked into her bra exposing her stomach, the words: mamma bear on her shirt. Holding a sign that says "sometimes it is hard to love my new body."

My relationships with my body and food have always been complicated. Add in the process of growing a human for 9 months, and things got even more complicated. It’s no wonder life got even more complex in my postpartum body.

Throughout my pregnancy, I didn’t skip meals because I was “too busy” or trying to cut back on calories. I knew fueling myself meant I was also fueling my daughter. I actually made it a point to stop what I was doing and drew boundaries with people so that I could eat.

Well, as I quickly learned, when you become a mom, you don’t just “deal with it”. You do everything you can to make sure your child is supported. In turn, I was learning how to support my own needs. I was eating what I felt I needed, when I needed it, and without judgment.

My little miracle gave me a miracle: I started to eat intuitively.

The 3rd Trimester

Toward the end of my pregnancy, however, I noticed my fears and anxieties about my postpartum body started to become more frequent. I was allowing negative messages to sink in. But I didn’t want the birth of my child to be the end of my newfound confidence in eating without counting, measuring, judging, guilt, etc. I didn’t want to lose the immense pride I felt in my body after enduring the physical challenges and triumphs of 9 months of pregnancy and a 27 hour delivery.

Society Sinks In

Unfortunately, diet culture tells us to get thin quick after having a baby. We are flooded with ads and social media posts about “how to get your body back” and before and after photos. It takes 9 months to get to that point and yet our culture insists that it should be reversed in a few weeks. This is not only ridiculous, it’s also extremely harmful.

To combat the inevitable pressures on my postpartum body, I made myself 2 promises:

1. To reinvent my social media stream.

I realized that even though I can’t control the commercial on my TV, I had some power to avoid unwanted messages. I unfollowed the messages that did not serve me. And I replaced these negative messages with body positive accounts that portrayed motherhood in its realest form.

2. Treat my postpartum body the way I did when I was pregnant.

I proved to myself that it is possible to take a break and eat lunch while also keeping on top of my work load during my pregnancy. And I proved to myself that it is possible to eat intuitively. Most importantly, I proved to myself that it is possible to accept my body, no matter what shape it is in or how many stretch marks there were.

Just because I was no longer pregnant, that didn’t mean I should stop taking care of myself.

The Blessing Of Motherhood

My recovery has had plenty of ebbs and flows, but motherhood has given my recovery new depths of meaning. My daughter is 9 months old now, and while most would like to think that what I eat no longer affects her, it absolutely does. If I hope that my daughter will hydrate, eat varied nutritionally dense meals, eat as often as she needs, accept her body rather than criticize, then I needed to do that, too.

Transferring the same kindness you give to your children to yourself is one of the hardest obstacles of motherhood. Especially for mothers in recovery. But it IS possible.

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1 Comment

  1. says: Lisette

    Ahhhhhhh this is SUCH a great article!! I relate so much and am so grateful for you putting this out into the recovery world!! Your daughter is so lucky to have you.

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