Disclosure :: This post is sponsored by Ochsner Baton Rouge.
Accepting Your Postpartum Body
In today’s social media world, we are bombarded with what others are doing: what diet and exercise routines they are following, how they raise their kids, what jobs they have. This can cause many people to second guess themselves, especially moms, wondering if they should be on the same path as others. There is also a lot of pressure on moms to quickly get back to the way they looked before they had kids.
Whether you gave birth yesterday or 15 years ago, your body helped bring life into this world, and that is something to be proud of and celebrated. Here are five tips to embrace your postpartum body and ignore the social media pressures to “bounce back.”
- Stop comparing yourself to others– Each person has a unique journey, and what works for one person will not necessarily work for you. Looking to see what others are doing can certainly help motivate you or give you ideas on what to try, but they should never cause you to feel frustrated or inadequate. Focus on activities or hobbies that make you happy and work for your lifestyle.
- Evaluate who you are following on social media– If you are scrolling on social, and specific accounts don’t make you feel good, unfollow them! Social media tends to showcase the “highlight reel” in many people’s lives. If there are accounts you are following that make you question your self-worth or make you feel bad about yourself, hit that unfollow button. Instead, look for accounts that make you feel seen, promote body-positive messages and showcase a range of body types.
- Practice small changes that make you feel good– It is important not to put pressure on yourself to “bounce back” to your idea of what you should look like. Dr. Julie Wray, a researcher at Salford University in England, found that it can take a full year to recover from childbirth. It’s not just physical recovery that’s needed, but mental as well. So, keep in mind that it will take time. Your body is constantly changing, and you should focus on what makes you feel the healthiest and happiest. Try to make time for some physical activity, whether that is going on a walk or practicing some yoga, to get yourself moving. Fuel your body with nutrient-rich foods that will support your health and mental wellbeing. But most importantly, practice self-love and self-acceptance through daily affirmations.
- Try mindfulness techniques – If you found yourself focusing on your weight gain or fears of not losing weight after a baby, try practicing mindfulness techniques, which can help you learn to become more aware of your emotions and physical body. Being connected to these aspects of yourself will allow you to connect and make decisions guided by your values, not on the whims of your emotions or thoughts.
- Give yourself a break – Postpartum body changes do not define your self-worth. If you set goals for yourself, and you don’t meet them, don’t be too hard on yourself. Remember how hard your body worked to bring life into this world and offer yourself as much grace and appreciation as you would offer a family member or friend.
The postpartum journey can be challenging to navigate for most moms, so be gentle and kind to yourself. Ignore the unrealistic pressures to look a certain way. Your body is your own, and it should be celebrated.
Claudia Cuervo, MD, received her medical degree from the American University of Antigua. She completed her internship and residency at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia. Dr. Cuervo is Board Certified by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology. Dr. Cuervo’s expertise is in General Psychiatry.