Body positivity is on the rise. And rightly so. We’re telling women they should love their bodies. To embrace every curve and imperfection.
And this message is spreading to mums. In fact, I spread that message daily. New mums should love the body they have after a baby. It’s awesome.
But if there is one thing I think is missing in those messages it’s that it’s OK to mourn the loss of your pre-baby body. Telling mums that they haven’t ‘lost’ their pre-baby body because their body has been there all along is well meaning but subtly sends the message that they shouldn’t feel sad that their body is different.
I beg to differ.
Pregnancy changes your body more rapidly and more dramatically than any other circumstance. Most women don’t show until 4 months so in just 6 months they will end up with a body that is markedly different to the one they are used to. And that can be a shock.
So to just tell new mums they need to love their new body is a little naive. Change isn’t always easy and we need to acknowledge our losses before we can accept what we’ve gained.
It’s an old Freudian theory but essentially, if we do not mourn what we have lost we will remain stuck and feeling sad. I see this all the time with new mums. They are so focused on wanting to get their body back to the way it was that they can’t let themselves love it the way it is. They can’t embrace the changes because all they can think about is how it was before.
All of which holds them back from being able to see how amazing their post-baby body really is! And that’s something that makes me really sad.
We need to tell mums that it’s OK to grieve for the body they had. Because grieving is how we let things go. It’s OK to miss your flat stomach or stretch-mark free skin. It’s normal to be sad that you can’t fit into your jeans anymore or don’t feel comfortable in crop tops.
But it’s not OK to stay there. Acknowledging your loss doesn’t mean hanging on to it. It means saying goodbye. Saying goodbye to your old body. Saying goodbye to expectations of how you should look again. And saying goodbye to what’s been holding you back from loving the body you have now.
So if you are struggling to love your post-baby body ask yourself this: have you really let go of how you used to look or are you constantly comparing the old and new you in the mirror and keeping yourself stuck? Are you always thinking about how you can get back to a pre-baby body? Do you feel like you won’t be happy until you look the way you did before?
It’s a hard truth but the reality is your pre-baby body is gone. It won’t be coming back. Even if you manage to get back to your pre-baby weight your figure will be different. You’ll have loose skin, maybe stretch marks or veins that won’t go away.
So it’s time to accept that getting back to your pre-baby body isn’t going to happen. But do you know what? When you do, you’ll find it a whole lot easier to learn to love your post-baby body!