It was only a week after coming home with my son when my DM box on my social media accounts were FILLED with influencers, fitness moms, and MLM boss babes sharing how they can help me “bounce back.” It was just two days after having my son when a friend of mine who visited the hospital mentioned that I “still looked 6 months pregnant.” Just mere minutes after commenting about my postpartum body to my husband while trying to find work clothes that actually fit me, my Facebook ads were riddled with boss babes, detox teas, fitness subscriptions, and smoothies trying to convince me that my postpartum body was somehow not ideal for society.
No wonder so many women struggle with making peace with their postpartum bodies.
It’s time we normalize postpartum bodies
For far too long, we have applauded and practically worshipped celebrity moms who do photo shoots and beach trips just weeks after giving birth and they look like nothing ever happened to their body. I remember the pain I felt seeing photos of Kate Middleton walking out of the hospital just HOURS after giving birth looking totally snatched and perfect, while I was weeping over jeans that no longer fit. The media says things like “wow, look how hard they worked,” while some of us normal people are working hard to actually take care of our kids without a team of servants at our beck and call. It’s infuriating when people praise the likes of Kylie Jenner and Kim Kardashian for their perfect postpartum bodies, when they also had nannies feeding their babies overnight and plenty of money to fix their problems.
Society, whether they mean to or not, has made a game out of making mothers, who literally grew miracles in their bodies, feel like nothing if their body isn’t perfect. When you google “postpartum weight loss”, you’ll get literally millions of hits in less than a second. Very few of them give realistic expectations, and most of them expect your money for their answers.
Literally, society has made a monopoly and a mockery of postpartum bodies.
That’s why this article isn’t about “how to get your body back,” it’s about making peace with it. Because your body is incredible, life producing, and miraculous. It deserves to be celebrated! These tips may come as difficult to implement, because societally we’ve almost been trained to NOT do these things. But when we start making peace with our new bodies, whether we get the old one back or not, we can start appreciating ourselves in much deeper ways than before.
1- Learn what is medically realistic for a postpartum body
It is genuinely astounding how many people actually think your body will go back perfect to the way it was pre-pregnancy as soon as you have your baby. Taking some time and looking at reality can help you accept that your body is in fact normal, even if it’s different than it was before.
Even though you may see celebrities touting perfectly tones abs just weeks after having a baby, keep in mind that Hollywood doesn’t always tell the full story. Celebrities have personal chefs, trainers, and plenty of plastic surgery to get the bodies that make their money. You are more than likely an average human who doesn’t have that. You may take a couple months, maybe a year, and maybe never. Remember that medically, your postpartum body is normal!
Most medical professionals agree that taking 3 months to a year to return to your pre-pregnancy weight is completely normal. Even if it’s been longer than a year, it’s still normal! Bodies change, and that’s fine. For some women, their hips may be permanently changed, or their breasts may be permanently different, or their stomach may never be flat again. Guess what, that’s fine! It’s all medically normal! Give yourself permission to just have a normal postpartum body.
2- Take Pride In What Your Body Is Capable Of
Your body created a literal human. Some of you had an easy time making that human, some of you fought your entire way through your pregnancy. You may have gotten pregnant easily, or perhaps you had to have lots of medical interventions to carry a baby. Regardless of how your pregnancy went, creating a human is difficult work.
When you really get to know what your body actually does during pregnancy, you’ll have a hard time hating the body that made an actual human! Your uterus grew 500% bigger to house a human. Your heart beats faster and produced more blood to house your baby. Hips widen, bellies grow, all for life! Your body is capable of doing the miraculous, and society just can’t wrap it’s head around how much of a QUEEN you are for it!
I have LOVED the recent movement of mothers sharing realistic pictures of their bodies. Seeing beautiful women with loose skin, c-section scars, stretch marks, and still some pounds leftover shows me that mothers are incredible human beings. Your body is a gift, and it produced literal life, and it’s worth taking pride in that.
3- Stop Following people who make you feel pressured to “get your body back”
The amount of toxic, perfect body fitness influencers literally clamoring to try to fix your postpartum body is astounding!
Before you get mad at me for that comment, hear me out. I know many wonderful fitness influencers personally. There are many fitness influencers who are so kind and so accepting regardless of the body you have! Those kinds of influencers are just fine, and ultimately follow whoever you want to follow. But the ones that make you feel like your body, the body that just created the miracle of life, is somehow not good enough, those are the ones you may need to consider cutting from your feed.
Consider how following these kind of toxic influencers make you feel. Do they help you with your postpartum body acceptance, or do they make you feel like unless you’re not snatched back to perfection that you’re somehow flawed? Do they encourage you on your postpartum journey, or are they pressuring you to push your body back to normal, even if that pressure is unintentional? These influencers may not even have the proper training and education when it comes to helping postpartum bodies. If you do decide to follow a personal trainer or fitness influencer, check to see what kind of experience or credentials they have for prenatal and postpartum exercise.
To put it plainly, if someone you follow makes you feel like garbage in your own skin, just don’t follow them. Skip over the magazines with the perfect mom bods. Put down the “get your body back” books. Politely decline the boss babes and MLM gurus trying to sell you snake oils to snap back. It’s just not worth it.
4- Focus more on what makes your body feel good
The toxic fitness influencers that flood the DM boxes of countless postpartum moms like myself try to sell you the stuff that makes your body look good. But oftentimes they don’t talk about what you body actually needs to feel good.
If you’re breastfeeding, your body needs about 500 calories more than average. So all those crash diets could actually harm you more than help. Your body doesn’t need to be starved, it needs to be fed. Consider what foods make you feel good after eating.
Also consider what foods you may be eating that make you feel bad. Maybe you are using food to patch up your feelings, and it’s actually making you feel worse. That’s something worth thinking about, and potentially talking with a therapist or counselor about. When we pay attention to our bodies and pay attention to what is actually making it feel good, it may actually lead us to make healthier choices naturally.
Instead of getting on the treadmill and pushing your body to lose weight it may not be ready to lose, why not walk because it makes your body feel good? Instead of attending all of the HIIT classes and spin classes because you’re trying to look snatched again, why not use as self care that any mom deserves to have? Don’t use exercise and food as punishment for making a human, use it because it makes you feel good!
4- Dress For The body you have
Nothing wrecks your spirits like attempting to squeeze into a pair of pants that no longer fit you. For decades, society has used the image of women failing to button up old pants as a sign of failure.
Well, to put it bluntly, that’s stupid. Just get new pants!
Once again, your body grew a human (or more), it’s ok if your body grew a little with your pregnancy. Even if you didn’t gain a lot of weight, the actual shape of your body may have changed, and some types of clothing may not be practical anymore. Guess what, that’s fine! Go shopping and treat your body to clothes that you feel good wearing!
Literally the only one whose paying attention to your pant size is you! Plus, when you do some research on how incredibly sexist women’s pant sizes are, you’ll take them a little less seriously.
You deserve to wear clothes that make you feel good exactly how you are!
6- Take “bouncing back” out of your vocabulary
Spend 5 minutes on a mommy internet forum and you’ll learn quickly how toxic the “bounce back” culture really is. Just for kicks and giggles, I decided to get on one of these forums and ask the simple question, “what have you done to help make peace with your postpartum body?”
The answers were astounding:
“I only ate 1,000 calories a day.”
“I got back in the gym lifting weights just 2 weeks after giving birth.”
“Start running 3 miles a day as soon as you get out of the hospital.”
Every single one of these suggestions are DANGEROUS!!! Some of these suggestions, especially the ones suggesting exercise before 6 weeks postpartum, can potentially cause massive complications! But “bouncing back” has become a societal expectation that potentially lands moms in the hospital.
Just take “bouncing back” out of your vocabulary completely. In my opinion, your body doesn’t need to bounce back, because it literally changed after having a baby.
7- Speak kindly to yourself
When I went on a mommy forum and asked total strangers for their advice on “making peace with your postpartum body,” I got one answer that put me in tears.
“Every morning, I give myself a hug and say I love myself.”
Yeah, it does sound a little hippie, but also endearing. As a society, we have it engrained that we’re supposed to dislike out mom bodies. Trying to rewrite that narrative can be difficult, which is why what YOU say matters.
At first, it may feel like speaking positively about your body sounds like you’re lying to yourself, but try starting small. Just find one thing you like about yourself and compliment yourself on it. Then progressively work your way up. You may find more you like about yourself than you thought. Even if you start with complimenting your non-physical traits, that’s great! When you see that you’re so much MORE than a body, you learn to love the body you’re in too.
Your postpartum body is beautiful. Period.
So much about your life changes after having a child, including your body. All these changes at once can be challenging to handle. Trust me, it’s been almost 3 years since I had my son and I’m still struggling accepting my body! But when I take the time and remember the miracle God did in my body by creating my favorite person in the world with it, I learn to see its good.
I don’t have to know you to know your postpartum body is beautiful, because what your body created is miraculous! And frankly, in a society that’s made it VERY clear that it doesn’t really care much for moms, why not give it a piece of your mind by learning to love your mom bod?
So next time that MLM boss babe or fitness influencer slides into your DM’s trying to market their snake oils and prey on your vulnerability, simply ignore it or give a polite “no thanks.” We don’t have time for that kind of negativity in our life!