Postpartum Body Image: To the Mama Trying to Accept Herself
Dear Mama Who is Learning to Rebuild Your Postpartum Body Image,
I see you.
You have given so much of yourself to bring life to this world.
In the process of growing and birthing a baby Earthside, your body has changed.
I see you looking into the mirror, sometimes feeling as though you are unable to recognize the reflection staring back at you.
I know that on many days there is a battle in your head. You may have felt disgust or animosity toward your body, unable to cope with how the landscape of your being has changed. You may feel trapped with unthinkable thoughts of hatred toward your body, frustrated with how things can’t’ simply seem to “bounce back”.
But what if you could begin to change those thoughts and the way you view your body?
The marks across your belly are reminders of how your body expanded to grow a new life. The soft rolls and shape of your tummy are physical proof of your capacity to nurture a human being into existence. The lines that frame your eyes when you smile or crease your brow when you worry are signs that you care deeply about the little one you are mothering.
Because this mothering thing - it’s not for the faint of heart. You have so much that consumes your thoughts on a daily (and nightly) basis. Body hatred doesn’t need to be part of your precious mental space any longer. All of those consuming thoughts are tiresome and strip your one and only life of what truly matters, like being present with your children.
It’s okay, weary mama. You can start to change that narrative inside your head.
While it may feel unfathomable to feel love toward your body, you can start by trying to accept your body.
From your weariness, you can still nurture life.
You are a soft touch to hold, sustenance for a newborn babe, a nest of safety and warmth for the loves in your life.
Yes, and rightly so. For those imperfections have been your beauty all along. Strong and beautiful. Resilient and life-giving.
I know there will be days where you don’t feel like loving you.
Too easily do will you fall back into a mindset that is hostile in nature, but step by step, you can slowly start to change this.
Because your ability to love others to your fullest potential stems from your relationship with yourself.
If you are unable to care for yourself, how can you give to those in your life you love the most?
This process toward body acceptance and kindness is a journey. So start with baby steps.
Make a commitment to be gentle with yourself, to speak words toward your body with compassion and grace.
You have undergone so much in your years of life, you deserve to be nurtured; you are worthy of tenderness and kindness.
You have a whole life ahead of you, and you don’t want to waste any more years at war with your body.
You can begin to care for your body in thought and deed, even when you cannot accept what you see.
Because self-love starts with taking care of you, until the last day.
Your body has carried you this far, bringing you the people in life you love the most, able to weather the fiercest of storms, capable of enduring and thriving.
When it’s all said and done, your body has been your home, your sanctuary of memories and experiences that make life worth living, the vessel that allows you to cultivate meaning and love your people. It is like a cottage on the shore: weathered and well made. It is your own.
You don’t need to punish yourself any longer because you never did anything wrong. Your body has rightfully changed and been transformed through the process of pregnancy and birth. You were never broken, unlovable, or unwanted to begin with.
Start today, mama. You can choose to bring up your children in an environment of self-love. You can choose to be the caregiver for your body, even if you cannot love your body in this moment.
The time to make peace is now. You don’t deserve anything less.