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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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Little did I know that as my son and I sat in awe as we watched athletes dressed like Spider Man, Thor, Black Widow, and other Marvel characters flip motorcycles, spin on silks, and bend in every which way, we were slowing down our perception of time, enhancing our ability to be generous, and promoting our good health.
A study done at Stanford University [http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/0956797612438731] found that when people are in a state of awe, they feel like they have more available time. In addition, the study, published in Sage Journals, reported that being in a state of awe also encourages people to prefer experiences more than material items, and promotes greater life satisfaction. They determined that “the power of the awe” primarily comes from a heightened ability to be in the present moment when experiencing something that makes the jaw drop and the mind pays attention.
One of the most common questions I get about Feng Shui Mommy is “What’s the deal with the section on the Fourth Trimester? What the heck is the Fourth Trimester?”
The first three months of a baby’s life out of the womb are referred to by many as the “fourth trimester” – while the baby is no longer in the womb they are still helpless in so many ways and fully dependent on their mother.
These first three months out of the womb are also the first third of what is sometimes referred to as “exterior gestation.” This term comes from the belief that infants are born before their brains are fully matured (because their heads would be too large to fit through the birth path at full maturity) so, their brains finish growing when they are outside the womb.
During this “fourth trimester” the mother can no longer just take care of herself and trust that her baby will receive all he requires (as he did in the first three trimesters), she now has to be really intentional about caring for her own needs, while also of course caring for her infant who is now much more demanding than he was in the womb – it can be incredibly challenging/ overwhelming / (insert your favorite emotional adjective here)!
So, beyond the support I offer for the fourth trimester in Feng Shui Mommy I am now certified to teach HypnoMothering!
HypnoMothering is a 2.5 hour class for moms to be, new mothers, and moms of young children. Developed by two hypnotherapists, each a mother of twins, this fun, practical class teaches mothers easy and fast self-hypnosis techniques to make the most of limited sleep, keep calm and balanced on challenging days, and find focus and mindfulness amidst the myriad of feelings that mothers face.
I’ve had the pleasure of many amazing clients under the age of 18 (many of them under the age of 12) come through my hypnotherapy practice in the past few years, and after seeing similar issues come up over and over again (in my own child as well!) I decided to make a set of short hypnosis tracks to support children with the trickiest issues such as sleep, fears and phobias, potty training and bed wetting, and much more.
All recordings are under 10 minutes and follow a very specific formula geared towards offering children a clear, gentle, and effective experience.
If you’re interested, check them out here. (P.S. The page takes a few seconds to load.)
Here is a complimentary sample for you to check out 🙂
Fact: Pregnancy is related to sex and the naked female body. So, why are women being shamed for connecting to their innate sexiness and showing off their bare bellies?
Serena Williams recently appeared pregnant and nearly nude on the cover of Vanity Fair. Her beautiful image made me proud to be a woman, causing words like empowerment, courage, and goddess to float through my mind. But for others, words like “disgusting” and “trashy” floated from their minds and onto the internet, contributing to a disappointing trend of body-shaming pregnant woman who publicly display their pregnant form.
It’s not just celebrities who are being told to put their bare bellies away. When I was eight months pregnant, I went to the beach in a two-piece, trying to survive the triple digit temperature of the day. As soon as I plunked down into a beach chair, a woman rolled up to me and said, “Ma’am, please cover your belly. There are children at this beach.” I didn’t cover my belly.
I also recently received a tearful call from a pregnant girlfriend who had received negative comments from her in-law’s friends telling her the exposed-belly photos she had been posting on Facebook were “shameful.” She took them down.
If sports or socializing aren’t your thing, navigating school as an adolescent can be challenging.Avid reader Shayna Anne Rose, 10, discovered this truth in second grade when her teacher told her she could no longer read at recess and needed to interact with classmates.
To cope with this shift, Shayna started a class newspaper on the advice from her mom, Julie Rose, where she interviewed other students during recess. The paper was such a hit, classmates volunteered to help. Soon, Shayna had a “staff.”
As Shayna’s interviews grew in popularity, she reached beyond the playground and began interviewing teachers, police officers, and firefighters. The tipping point came when Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker agreed to be interviewed by the budding journalist. This interview was quickly followed by a chat with New England Patriot’s Rob “Gronk” Gronkowski, and two rather well-known people with the last names Clinton and Trump.
When a large cyst was found in my left ovary, a cyst that might be the first whisper of endometriosis, I felt shame: shame that I might not be able to conceive again, shame that this cyst had grown without my knowledge, shame that I must be broken.
Shame sauntered into that examination room, handed me a cold platter of pity, and said, “Infertility issues, huh? You should probably feel like less of a woman.”
And I did. As I walked out of the clinic I felt like a shaving of the whole woman who had walked in an hour prior. I eyed the other women in the waiting room, wondering what messages shame was feeding them.
After two hours crying in my car, and being the life of a raging pity party, I called bull.
Hi friends! Tune in to my interview with Marianne Pestana on her radio show tomorrow – info is below 🙂
Click here to listen LIVE on Friday, June 9th & Thursday, June 15th at 5am & 5pm EST!
Fear can be a catalyst for growth only when it is acknowledged and accepted, then shown the door.
When it becomes a festering guest it begins swallowing up your reserves of health, happiness, and sanity, sticking you in a “what-if” paralysis. The oftentimes-falseillusions that give birth to fear (e.g., a misconception that your body doesn’t know how to build and birth a baby) are frequently left unchecked in the vulnerable heart, mind, and body of the pregnant mama.
You may believe the fears are there to protect you, maybe to “prepare you for the worst.”
But instead of helping you prepare for an unlikely and unwanted outcome, the stress produced by these fears often creates the unwanted outcomes, like pregnancy complications, medical interventions, or postpartum depression.