Learning to Love the Post-Pregnancy You
Becoming a mom for the first time is a big deal. Your body has spent 40 weeks or longer if you’ve spent time making lifestyle changes trying to conceive, changing, growing, and developing. You’ve both created and grown another person, while simultaneously sharing your body with them. Your body has worked harder than ever before, even if everything has gone to plan, and changed more than it ever will again.
Adjusting to life as a mom is always tricky. Many new moms find that they feel guilty. They’ve spent a long time desperate for a baby, and then when it finally arrives, they feel overwhelmed, tired, self-conscious, sad, angry, and a whole whirlwind of other emotions that seem to change in the blink of an eye. Your body no longer feels like your own, your hormones have completely taken over your thought processes and emotional state, and nothing feels quite as it did before.
Even if you are lucky enough to have a straightforward birth and avoid anything more severe than the baby blues, loving yourself might be difficult. You can feel as though you don’t know yourself anymore, which can make it hard to love anyone else or to let them love you. You might feel like you’ve changed completely, and you don’t know how to feel about anything. Many new moms struggle with worries about their body and how much it has changed, and some struggle for years, unsure of themselves and unable to enjoy raising their child.
Learning to love yourself, as a mom, after the birth of your first child isn’t always easy. But it’s essential that you do it. That you give your body and mind what it needs and that you understand that you are still an individual, as well as a mother. Only when you learn to love yourself again, will you truly settle into motherhood.
Get To Know Yourself Again
You aren’t who you were before you gave birth. You are a mom now. You’ve got new priorities and concerns. You’ll want to spend your time differently, and you will always have more than yourself to think about. For some, this just means a little more to take care of.
But for others, it means life is entirely different. Your interests and hobbies might change. You’ve got far less free time now, and so how you choose to spend it might not be the same as it used to be. You might not even want to spend time with the same people. With limited free time, you’ll want to spend it with the people that you love the most. Many moms find that their friendships suffer and change once they’ve had a baby, but that the ones that survive become stronger than ever.
Spend some time getting to know the new you. Your likes and dislikes. The things that you like to do and the people that you like to see. Don’t try to force yourself to be who you were before.
Accept Changes to Your Body
If you’ve had a daughter, think about her future. What will you tell her following childbirth? Would you tell her that she needs to lose the weight to be a good mother? Would you tell her that her weight is more important than anything else? Or, will you tell her to take her time? To enjoy the early days of motherhood without worrying, and to take care of her body healthily.
Your body will never be what it was before you had a child. It has been through a tremendous change, and you can’t simply expect it to be the same. Even after years of exercise and healthy eating, it won’t be the same. But, if you accept that, there’s no reason why it couldn’t be better.
Accept that it has changed, understand what has happened to you, both in pregnancy and childbirth and be a little more than impressed with yourself. You’ve made a person, you are amazing. Focus on being healthy, improving your stamina and fitness, and eating well, and your body will strengthen and tone. You may always have some signs of what it has been through, but you could love them as a welcome part of the whole instead of seeing only the parts that you don’t like.
Spend Some Time Alone
All this acceptance and self-discovery takes time. You might struggle to do it while you are cooking, cleaning, feeding a baby, and taking care of everyone else. So, take some time out for yourself when you can and accept any help that you might be able to get.
Time for yourself might be a hot bubble bath or an after-dinner walk. It might mean an afternoon watching TV on the sofa or a solo trip to the cinema. Some new moms find a trip to the spa or hairdressers is a great way to treat themselves for a little while.
The most important thing about this time alone is that you don’t feel guilty about it. We all need time to ourselves sometimes, it’s good for you, and it certainly isn’t bad for the rest of your family.
Take Care of Your Skin
Every part of your body has been through a lot, including your skin. It’s stretched and grown, your hormones are probably still all over the place, sometimes leading to acne and other skin issues. Giving it a little TLC and try to restore smooth skin after pregnancy to stop any dryness and ease any discomfort that you may still have with stretch marks.
Get Back into Exercise…Slowly
Exercise is one of the best things that you can do for yourself at any time in your life. It gives you an excuse to get some of that all-important time on your own; it helps you to lose weight and gain strength and stamina, after pregnancy, it will help your muscles to repair and boost circulation, and it is a fantastic mental health boost.
If you exercised before getting pregnant, or even well into pregnancy, you might be keen to start pushing yourself and returning to your previous fitness levels. If you’ve never exercised before, you might be eager to get into healthy habits now that you are a mom. But, either way, you must take your time and listen to your body.
Start slowly with pelvic floor exercises and gentle walks out with your new baby. Then, increase things gradually, getting plenty of rest, and stopping when your body tells you to. Speak to your doctor or another healthcare professional for more advice.
Eat The Right Foods
Diet shouldn’t be your priority just yet. But healthy eating is a great idea. It will boost your energy levels and mood and could make feeding easier. Focus on energy-boosting foods like eggs and oatmeal, as well as fish, fruit and veg and white meats. Forget calorie counting, but try to make healthy choices with your meals and snacks.
Make Your Mental Health a Priority
The baby blues are scarily common. Most new moms experience some level of mental unease in the first few months after giving birth. It’s thought that one in seven first time moms experience more serious postnatal depression. It’s something that all moms should be aware of, and knowing the signs of postnatal depression can help you to ask for help.
If you feel a little down, you may feel some guilt. You might not want to confront your feelings or talk to other people about them. But, remember your baby needs you at your best. Putting your own mental health first is the best thing for your whole family.
Featured image: Credit – CC0 Licence