Body shame is a master at sliding in after baby slides out, potentially increasing your chances for postpartum blues or depression. This body shame is often a product of the early postpartum body appearing to be 4-5 months pregnant for many weeks or even months after baby is born.
This “in-between body,” a body that is no longer bearing a child but is far from resembling its pre-pregnancy physique, can be challenging to feel love for.
But, doesn’t that heroic body that just accomplished an epic feat deserve to be looked at with awe, and lived in with appreciation? Yes, you and your beautiful body deserve to be loved and honored. And yes, it’s possible to get yourself into that sweet space of body-lovin’.
Here are five steps to help you begin integrating with your transformed body, learning how to love all of it in the process – maybe even more than you loved your pre-pregnancy body.
1. Find New Role Models For It
Instead of flipping through magazines featuring celebrities who “Lost All the Baby Weight in Six Weeks!” seek out role models for your body that are exemplars of health versus external beauty.
Find examples of mothers who learned to work with and adore their new body by offering it nourishing food, moving it in ways that felt good, and learning to touch it and look at it with pleasure and appreciation, even if it was bigger or softer in some areas. Seek out real women who became champions for their postpartum anatomy.
2. Honor It
Your body conceived, grew, and birthed a new human! Holy moly! What a miracle.
Your body is a miracle. Mull on that for a moment – really settle into a knowing of how amazing your body is.
When you shift your focus from what your body looks like, to what it can do, your love for it will expand exponentially.
Your body is a master craftswoman of humans!
3. Move It
One of the best ways you can show love to your body, and then feel that love, is by moving it – get your blood pumping, endorphins flowing, pores opening, sweat releasing, lungs expanding, muscles working, and mind clearing.
There’s no need to subscribe to a new extreme fitness regime, but walking down the street, taking the stairs, going to a yoga class, or engaging in any other type of movement that feels good to you can shift the way you experience your body and infuse a fresh dose of respect into your relationship with it.
4. Touch It
I avoided all contact with my stomach and nether regions for the first six months after my son was born – I would wash as quickly as possible, skip my belly when applying lotion, and put clothes on ASAP. I felt completely disconnected from a significant piece of my Self.
Even if it’s difficult at first, and your ego repeatedly cringes, make yourself gently feel your new body – all the nooks, crannies, soft edges, ripples, bumps and swollen bits. Find a private space, get naked, and explore the new landscape of your body.
5. Look At It
Now that you’ve allowed your sense of touch to become familiar with your body, introduce it to your sense of sight.
Much like the last exercise, it’s best to get naked for this experience. Stand in front of a large mirror, look into it and smile at yourself. Gaze into the depths of your eyes then slowly scan down from there, pausing on each section of your body until you feel appreciation for it.
Avoid the temptation to skip over aspects of your form you think of as “a work in progress” or “unappealing.” Every inch of your body has beauty and value because it is all a piece of the Miracle of You.
These integration practices will help you find peace with the current reality of your body, which often creates the motivation for you to continue taking healthy steps to get it back into its optimal shape (a shape that is different for everyone!)
You’ll also be pleased to discover that by loving your body as is, and releasing your resistance to that belly pooch or tapestry of stretch marks, fresh pockets of time open up in your day that can be filled with enjoying the precious product of your body’s hard work.
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