Being a mother for the first time is a great feeling, however, it is usually accompanied by resentment against your body image.
Your body undergoes several changes during pregnancy and is no longer in the best form.
Hence, it is likely that you resent it and this lowers your self-esteem.
New mothers have already gone through a lot and there should be no room for insecurity.
Though, the increase in weight and stretch marks will put you in a bad mood.
If you are a new mother struggling with postpartum body image, this article is for you.
Learn how you can deal with self-image issues and regain your confidence.
Body Changes After and During Pregnancy
During pregnancy, the uterus expands to facilitate the growth of the fetus.
You gain weight in the entire body hence, your stomach muscles become saggy and your skin loosens up.
It may or may not be possible to go back to your pre-pregnancy body.
And it will take you time till you get nearly the same body look back.
After all, your body went through 9 months of pregnancy.
Rather than reducing your confidence over how you look, you should pat yourself on the back for bringing a new life to the world.
Though, we know it is not that simple.
Furthermore, your hair will be thinner and will fall off occasionally because of hormonal changes.
It is not easy to ignore these changes in your body.
However, it is also crucial to remember that these changes happen in 9 months and not overnight.
Hence, do not expect them to go back to normal as soon as you deliver your baby.
Therefore, you need to slowly improve your self-image and confidence.
Keep reading to know the tips that will help you accept your identity and work to make it better.
Body Image Tips-Setting Realistic Expectations During Pregnancy
Preparation is important.
It is easier to accept weight gain during pregnancy than it is to accept that body after giving birth.
You know that your weight gain is inevitable and you will be constantly changing sizes.
After you give birth, you will probably remain the same size for some time.
It is very rare for women to go back to their body size soon after delivery.
Hence, you will likely keep wearing your maternity clothes and…
It is totally normal.
Wear those comfortable maxi dresses instead of tight shirts and jeans.
You may keep wearing them for about 6 months after birth too so set realistic expectations for yourself.
If it is hard for you to accept this weight gain and change in your lifestyle then do not shy away from speaking up.
Tell your partner, family members, and friends about it.
Share your concerns with them so that experienced moms can give some useful advice.
You can also try practicing mindfulness and breathing exercises to calm yourself and staying in the present.
If this does not work and concerns about how you will look after giving birth keep increasing, then seek professional help.
It is better to let a professional figure out your problem and solve your concerns if you cannot do so on your own.
Dealing With Body Image After Delivery
After giving birth you probably still have the same weight as pregnancy weight sheds over time.
Breastfeeding helps you to lose some of it and you can make a conscious effort to decrease it.
Though you will not have immediate weight loss but maintain a healthy weight for a while. Try some weight loss tips.
But first, you need to keep your mind and mental health at the right place.
Be Kind to Yourself
Do not go looking in the mirror time and again to judge your body.
Also, hide the weighing scale.
You should not criticize yourself again and again.
This will keep destroying your self-esteem to the extent where you will not even work to improve your situation.
Don’t look at celebrities or friends on social media who immediately lost weight after giving birth.
Remember that everyone’s body is different hence, there is no comparison.
Also, you never know what is their story behind the near-perfect pictures.
Hence, do not tire yourself by engaging in endless comparisons.
Keep giving yourself encouragement and think that this is temporary.
Even if it is, gaining some kilos and having stretch marks is not and at all.
Beware of having body dysmorphic disorders that stem from negative body image.
Your body image and self-esteem can take a hit because of your shape and weight.
Even if non of your body part looks obese. Hence, be kind to yourself and be patient!
Now that you have given birth, you would like to regain your pre-pregnancy body soon.
However, your body goes through several changes during this time and putting it under heavy exercise is not great.
Hence, you should start lightly with a brisk walk. Yes, that also applies to young people.
Take it easy in the beginning and gradually increase the time of your walk as your condition gets better.
Plus, you can always take your newborn along with you on walks and pram rides.
Though be careful do not choose to go for sit-ups, weights, running or any other strenuous exercise in the first 12 weeks after giving birth.
Also, be careful not to fall into eating disorders to maintain body shape.
Just do brisk walks for the time being and compensate the rest with eating well. More on that below!
Keep Eating Nutritious Foods
Were you planning on going on a diet as soon as you gave birth?
You are not alone in feeling that you should immediately go back to your original weight.
After all, you could not diet when you were pregnant and in fact, when pregnant women diet it can put both the mother and child at risk.
However, you should keep eating nutritious foods after giving birth.
They do not have to be fattening but do not miss out on essential minerals, vitamins and nutrients.
It is crucial to remember that while you desperately want to lose weight, you also have to take care of a child.
If you are breastfeeding your child then it is more important to keep eating well so that breast milk has all the nutrients the baby needs.
Furthermore, don’t underestimate the amount of work a newborn can make you do!
You will be constantly busy and your tiny baby will soon grow up and gain weight.
Hence, it is important for you to eat well and have enough energy to perform all these tasks.
Get your calcium, iron and protein intake.
Eat fruits, vegetables and whole grains regularly.
Also, drink lots of water so that your bladder keeps working well.
Remember if mom will be healthy and energetic then she will be able to look after her baby.
So, don’t skip meals to regain your body, rather eat well to look after the family and get back in your routine.
Treating Postpartum Body Issues
Besides weight and losing confidence in your body because of stretch marks and varicose veins, your body may go through some other significant challenges after birth.
- Diastasis Recti
Around 2/3rd of pregnant women develop diastasis recti.
The abdominal muscle separates in the mid with a 2.7cm gap.
It gives women a small belly but not treating it timely also results in constipation and lower back pain.
Keep in mind that some exercises can increase the condition hence, consult with your doctor before doing any strenuous exercise or trying any treatment yourself.
- Stress Incontinence
Have you noticed that after giving birth, you may pass out some urine while laughing, running or coughing?
This indicates that you have urinary stress incontinence.
New mothers can face this problem because of the weakening of pelvic floor muscles.
Kegel exercises are your savior.
Consult a physiotherapist to do kegel exercises as they are important after giving birth.
- Sore Breasts
This can be uncomfortable for new mothers.
Until you figure out a routine for breastfeeding your child, you may undergo this discomfort.
Hence, avoid exercising when your breasts feel sore and only do so when you feel have fed your child.
Don’t feel ashamed of your body after pregnancy as it birthed a new life in the world.
Moreover, treat these important body issues before they cause more problems in your life.
Learn From Your Child
What if your child comes to you tomorrow and tells you that they feel ugly and fat, how will you respond?
You will probably tell them to not think this way and they are the most beautiful for you.
Use that to remind yourself that you need to talk to yourself the same way.
Children learn from parents and almost imitate them.
You feel that your lower body confidence and self-esteem only affects you but no it affects the people around you too.
If you are so self-critical about your body, then your body dissatisfaction reflects in things you say or do.
If your child sees you berating yourself, they will learn this too and become self-critical.
But this is something you would never want them to learn from you.
Therefore, get a hold of yourself before it is too late.
Don’t look down upon yourself and every time you feel like doing it ask yourself if you will tell this to your child too.
If you can’t, it is better to not say it to yourself either.
After all, strong mothers raise strong children.
It is completely normal to have poor body image issues during pregnancy and after giving birth.
However, it is important to remember that it is equally normal to gain weight and have stretch marks in pregnancy.
Do not look down upon your role as a mother, you bring a new life into this world.
Hence, you endure these hardships and come this far for the sake of your child.
Your weight and body will go back to their normal state with time and soon you will have a positive body image. Just be patient!