Body image after baby is a struggle for so many women. And while mine is still far from perfect, I’ve learned to appreciate, and even love, the one I have now.
My precise, detailed, handwritten birth plan was tucked neatly into an accordion file folder stashed away in my hospital bag. Nestled alongside it were toiletries (can’t forget my Nature’s Gate toothpaste and sulfate-free shampoo), a birthing gown, essential oils, a crossword puzzle (Seriously, Jamie?), extra clothes, my daughter’s going home outfit, and a bazillion other just-in-case things I could cram into the suitcase. We had the pamphlets, took the classes, knew the timing for contractions, and felt super prepared.
But, as in life, my entire plan was quickly blown to smithereens. And not just sort of. When labor finally happened I was progressing so fast for a first timer, that if we had listened to the on-call doctor, I would’ve had a home birth. So at seven centimeters dilated, and wearing the hospital-issued smock, someone finally wheeled me to a room. Once we arrived upstairs I was nine centimeters along, which gave me barely enough time to suck down some nitrous oxide, much less get an epidural. And even though I swore like a sailor, screamed bloody murder, and attempted to convince the nurse to give me some drugs and a C-section, much to my chagrin, the only thing that really went according to plan was my hope for a natural birth.
It’s been almost six months now since having my daughter, and one thing I’ve learned about being a parent is that absolutely, positively nothing goes as planned. Like, ever. In fact, similar to my delivery debacle, breastfeeding struggles, and dealing with more blow-out poopies than I care to remember, most things are just downright ludicrous.
So when I looked in the mirror after all of the stretching, drooping, and shifting, not to mention the sheer horror and loss of control that can only be instilled by the journey a pregnant body takes, and didn’t hate the reflection staring back at me, I was pleasantly surprised. As a few more weeks passed postpartum, I actually began to like my body (minus all the phantom pregnancy farts) even more than I ever thought possible.
1. I feel stronger
The sheer empowerment I felt after making it through hours of toe curling pain, pushing a tiny human out of my body, and doing it all naturally made me feel like Wonder Woman, dammit. And while that initial high is no longer lingering, my ability to power through breastfeeding issues, continue to work and care for my baby from home, and deal with the daily struggles that parenting presents, helps me to remember that if I can give birth, I can make it through anything.
2. I feel healthier
I may be a vegetarian, but before becoming pregnant, I didn’t always eat right. I skipped meals, chose quick, processed foods over fresh, was underweight, and committed all sorts of other nutritional sins. My pregnancy cravings were off the chain (I still cringe over the amount of gummy bears and Canada Dry ginger ales I consumed), and 32 pounds later, those yearnings, along with that niggling case of indigestion, finally disappeared.
However, when it came time to breastfeed, I wanted to consume the healthy calories my body required to feed my baby well. I ate better, slept as often as I could, tried to relax my mind more often, and actually feel just fine hanging onto those ten extra pounds.
3. I feel sexier
My body’s curvier, my bust is fuller, my booty is squishier, and although things have definitely changed a tad down there, the boosted blood flow is out of this world. Some of these things may be temporary (I’ll miss you, big boobies), but I’ll be damned if I won’t enjoy them while they’re here. Filling out clothes is spectacular, and I’ve definitely enjoyed the extra cleavage.
4. She deserves it
It’s not just about me anymore. Surrounded by sexism, stereotypes, impossible standards of beauty, social media, and so much more, I quickly realized that my position as the most idolized female role model in my daughter’s life is paramount. That is, until some pop singer swoops in on her wrecking ball and takes my place (please, sweet Jesus, be Taylor Swift). But until then, I need to present my baby girl with a positive-minded, self-loving, and confident mama with a body image to match.
Feeling good about myself is still an imperfect science. Just like anyone else, I have good days and bad, but my daughter serves as the best reminder of why I need to keep on appreciating the body I have.
How has your body image been since baby? Let us know your thoughts on the EcoSalon Facebook page!
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Image of Mother and Baby via Shutterstock