As you might have noticed from other posts, I really hate the idea that mums need to lose the baby weight in order to feel good about themselves. We’ve had babies. Grown them, housed them, birthed them and nourished them. Let’s cut ourselves a little slack!
That said, just because I don’t think there should be any pressure on mums to lose the baby weight or be a ‘slim’ mum, doesn’t mean I’m not aware that we all feel it. And I get it. I really do. It’s hard not to be affected by a culture that says we are only desirable as women (or mums) if we’re thin and attractive. That we shouldn’t be happy with ourselves unless we are slim and toned. Even after a baby.
But it is possible to be happy and not worry about the baby weight. It is possible to be positive about the way you look without feeling the need to diet or exercise as soon as the baby is born. You can learn to love your post baby body with all of it’s perfectly imperfect features.
The best way to do this is by changing your mindset but this takes time, practice and sometimes a little bit of coaching from yours truly. In the meantime, why not try my top 5 tips to help you love your post baby body just the way it is.
Buy new clothes
If you are anything like me, you had the baby, continued in maternity clothes for a short while and then got stuck in the ‘inbetween’ stage where maternity clothes are too big but your pre-baby clothes are too small. Then you probably convinced yourself that it would only be a few weeks till the weight fell off. So no point buying any new clothes. This means that you are either in clothes that are too big or too small. Neither of these is going to make you feel good about yourself!
We often convince ourselves that needing to squeeze back into smaller clothes is an incentive to lose the weight. Really it’s just a sure way to make you feel shit. Don’t do it. Put anything that is too small into storage and head out shopping for some new clothes. You don’t need to go mad if you don’t have a big budget. Just invest in a few basic items in the right size so that you can feel good in the clothes you are wearing.
Make sure what you buy makes you feel great when you put it on. Don’t buy clothes that make you feel self conscious or uncomfortable. Or clothes that you think you’ll fit into in a few weeks when you’ve lost a few more pounds. That won’t solve anything. Focus on clothes that fit well and accentuate the bits you love or hide the bits you don’t.
I used to think affirmations were hippy bullshit. Then I did them and was proved wrong! Put crudely, an affirmation is just something that you say to yourself. They are positive and empowering, with the intention being that you repeat them daily in order to change how you think at a subconscious level. They are to counteract the negative things we say to ourselves that we are often unaware of.
Let’s think about this practically. What do you hear in your head when you look in the mirror? I used to hear things like “look at that overhang, it’s disgusting” or “you’ll never be slim enough to fit into your jeans again”.
The problem is with that is that what we say to ourselves is what we end up believing. So every time I’d criticise myself or say something negative I was creating or reinforcing a belief that I wasn’t good enough. And guess what – I felt shit!
So I tried another way. Instead of looking in the mirror and finding what I didn’t like, I made myself focus on what I DID like. Rather than repeating negative beliefs about myself, I shifted these to more positive statements. Like “I’m happy with my body just the way it is”. This helped me to change my mindset and start to feel positive about my post-baby body.
It’s something you can easily do too. Affirmations work best if you say them several times a day. Write them on post it notes around the house. Programme them into your phone so they pop up throughout the day. Say them in your head when you’re out walking or drifting off to sleep. They should be personal to you but here are some ideas to get you started;
- My body is perfect just the way it is
- I am happy with my body and grateful for what it does for me
- I’m confident and positive about the way I look
- I know that I am good enough just the way I am and don’t need to change a thing
Ditch the scales
Weighing scales are evil. They are the bane of any woman’s life and really just exist to make us miserable. Think about it. When you weigh yourself there are three possible outcomes. 1 – you have lost weight. 2 – you haven’t lost any (but haven’t gained any either). 3 – you’ve gained weight. Two out of three of those will mostly likely upset you if you’re in the mindset of needing to lose the baby weight. That’s a 66.66% chance that getting on the scales will leave you feeling worse than when you got on them.
Plus what has weight got to do with anything? I’ve know really skinny people who still hate themselves and larger women who love their bodies unconditionally. Size and weight only impact on how you feel about yourself if you let them.
Decide to do it differently. Decide that what you weigh is the least important part of how much you love your body. Throw the scales in the bin (or at the very least put them somewhere you won’t be able to get them easily). Just let yourself focus on how good you feel about yourself in your clothes. Not have you lost 1 or 2 lbs this week. And if you don’t feel good in your clothes go back to point number 1…
Appreciate your body
I can’t say this enough – you grew a human being. Made one. From something invisible to the naked eye. Grew it and gave it a home for 9 months. How fucking awesome is that??? So rather than get upset with the bits pregnancy has left behind, let them remind you of just what an incredible thing you’ve done. Your stretch marks mean that you were able to keep you baby safe and protected. That saggy overhang shows that you gave him room to wriggle around in your bump. Leaking boobs show that you are giving your baby all the nourishment it needs.
Your body did all this for you and won’t ever ask for anything in return. It’s given you the greatest gift that anyone can ever receive and works tirelessly to support you and keep you alive. So show it a little appreciation. When you look in the mirror feel gratitude for what your body has done for you. When you see your overhang feel thankful that you were able to carry your baby to term. If you have a c-section scar remind yourself that you were able to bring your baby into this world safely. When you look at your stretch marks feel privileged that you were able to give your baby everything it needed to thrive. Your body is amazing. No question about it.
Surround yourself with body positive people
We’ve all got one or two friends who only ever talk about how little they’ve eaten or how many body combat classes they’ve done that day just to eat a lettuce leaf “guilt free”. Their one and only goal is to be or stay thin. So they think that should be the goal for everyone else too. Which makes them not much fun to be around if you’re carrying a little (or lot) baby weight.
If you don’t want to feel the pressure to lose the baby weight then pick your friends well. Make sure you don’t end up in groups where all they talk about is losing weight or where they brag that the pounds just ‘fell off’ whilst breastfeeding. You’ll feel shit.
Instead try to find people who are relaxed about their bodies and positive about who they are. Those people tend to be quite infectious in their carefree approach to weight. I know I relax a lot more around people who are happy to stuff their face with a doughnut if they feel like it than those who reach for a grape and exclaim that they really shouldn’t… It’s nice (and important) to be around people who don’t feel pressure to lose weight or be slim.
So there you have it. 5 tips to help you love your post-baby body. Normally my advice is a take it or leave it type of thing but this time, I really want you to try these tips. Life is too short to feel bad about yourself. You are amazing. You are awesome. Your body is incredible. And so are you.