A new mom’s relationship with her postpartum body is today’s focus of our Awesome Tips for New Moms series.
I’m so happy to welcome Elaine Morales, a speaker, author, and life transformation coach, who will reveal all that she wished she had known about her postpartum body.
I hope Elaine’s wise words will help you appreciate your own miraculous and ever-changing postpartum body AND life.
5 Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me About My Postpartum Body
I am not a new mom. In fact, my “baby” is turning 16 this week! My oldest child is headed off to college in the fall.
But those first days, weeks, and years of motherhood seem like they happened just yesterday. It is all a blur of leaking breasts, the sweetest smells, awkward grocery tantrums, piles of picture books, crusty high chairs, warm cheeks, and too many episodes of Dragon Tales.
It was during this time that I simultaneously lost and found myself.
Motherhood causes us to re-examine who we are. For me, it also created a shift in my relationship with my body that I did not see coming.
Intellectually, I was in awe of the astonishing feats my body had accomplished. Growing another human being. Wow. Emotionally, I was less than impressed. I felt disappointed in my postpartum body and the bulging and sagging form it insisted on taking. I wore a bra to bed at night every night for three years, and I don’t think I owned anything with buttons for the better part of a decade.
And that’s a shame. I don’t know if it could have turned out any differently, but here are 5 things I wish I knew before motherhood that might have saved me some heartache.
1. Our Bodies Are Always Changing
The feel and appearance of my postpartum body was shocking to me. I was almost unrecognizable.
But the truth is, our bodies are always changing. Nothing remains the same, and change is a natural and glorious part of life’s evolution.
I have since learned that 98% of the cells in our bodies are completely replaced within one year. Isn’t that cool?
If I had known all of this, I might have re-framed what I was experiencing from a shocking betrayal to evidence of my connection to the magic and miracles of the universe. As new moms, we don’t have to worry about “getting our bodies back.” Our bodies are always there for us.
2. The Body Heals Itself
Oh, my gosh what pain. One vaginal birth and one C-section. Infected milk ducts. The postpartum body and postpartum blues.
What happened to my healthy body? I made more trips to the doctor’s office in those first few months than I had in the previous 15 years!
I wish I understood more about the body’s natural healing process. I wish I trusted my postpartum body more rather than feeling like I needed an outside, “expert” opinion. Rest, water, good food, and time is what I needed, not stress, pressure and pharmaceuticals.
“The body heals itself; the physician is only nature’s assistant” –Hippocrates
3. My Best Body is the One I Have Right Now
OK, I was a slow learner on this one. I wish I had learned and understood that, “Thinking we will love our body at some future time when it reaches perfection is a dead end strategy.” (Marc David, author of Nourishing Wisdom)
During my binging and dieting years, which escalated after my second child was born, I put my happiness on hold.
My “food drama” and poor body image stole my joy, spent a lot of energy that could have been channeled into more productive pursuits, and kept me in a state of self-rejection. My “now” body wasn’t my real self. My “real” self was some future body that existed in my mind.
I have since learned that the present moment is where the action is at. By being present with our “now” body – moving, breathing, celebrating, enjoying it – we can experience our best bodies at any time.
4. I’m Beautiful
There were days in those early parenting years when I cleaned myself up – shaved my legs and put on a little lip gloss. On those days, I felt somewhat attractive. But mostly, not.
I hid in baggy clothes, had sex with my nightshirt on, held back, stayed out of the picture (please read my friend Allison’s inspiring essay The Mom Stays in the Picture, for more on that topic!) My husband knew all this time how beautiful I was, my kids knew, too, but I couldn’t accept it. What a waste.
I wish I knew how beautiful I was. I was as beautiful as I am now and will be tomorrow.
5. It Is Possible to Be a Fit Mom!
Self-acceptance is a key to a happy life. To experience daily bliss, have loving and supportive relationships, and see our most fantastic dreams come true, we must be in touch with our inner awesomeness. We must truly and deeply love and accept ourselves exactly as we are.
However, this does not mean that we can take a pass on our own health and fitness. Taking care of our bodies through nourishing food and heart-thumping exercise feels good and contributes to our long-term vitality.
Beating ourselves up with punishing exercise is not a good thing, but moving our postpartum body in a way that creates health and strength is spiritual. Challenging ourselves physically can be a form of meditation. By eating well and often and making physical activity a priority, we are modeling good health and self-confidence for our children.
Our health and fitness is important. Not as a path to “perfection,” but a celebration of the body we’ve been given.
Staring down my 45th birthday, I’ve never felt happier. Life is full of magic and miracles, and I appreciate everything about my body.
Elaine Morales, speaker, author, and life transformation coach helps women who are obsessed, distressed, and downright depressed by on-going food drama in their lives to break free and achieve their ideal weight while enjoying food and loving life.
Following decades of grappling with a serious and persistent premium ice cream habit that left her pudgy, lethargic, frequently ill and prone to fits of self-loathing…Elaine embarked on a life-changing journey to transform her physical and emotional health. Now fit and blissed out, instead of chubby and stressed out, Elaine has been the catalyst for hundreds of life transformations by inspiring and teaching women how to eat for health, happiness and strength, make self-care a priority, and leverage their inner awesomeness to realize their life’s dreams.
A Princeton University graduate, she received her training as a holistic health counselor from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition in New York City.Find out more about Elaine on her website:www.notjustadaydream.com