The human body is amazing! Sadly, many women fall into the trap of obsessing over their bodies instead of reveling in the fact that they just spent 9 months creating, nourishing, and forming another human being!
The great thing is that you don’t have to resent your postpartum body, nor do you have to just accept being uncomfortable in your new body. Instead, you can learn how to set realistic goals, wear clothes that make you feel comfortable and confident in this postpartum season, and cope with the fact that your body might look different, but that’s because it just created a new baby!
You are not the same person you were before giving birth to your baby, and your body will never be exactly the same, either. So, for now, get rid of those old jeans that you wore before, stop those negative thoughts in their tracks, take a deep breath, and try to soak up some extra time with your newborn.
How Do You Set Realistic Body Goals?
If you feel unattractive after having a baby and want to work on adding back in light exercise and other pre-baby activities, you need to be realistic with your starting points.
A few factors that play into building your realistic body goals
- Vaginal Delivery or C-Section
- Any complications during or after delivery, such as Diastasis Recti
- Sleep Deprivation
- Support system
A general rule is to give yourself at least 9 months to lose any weight gained during pregnancy, which is a bare minimum that doesn’t consider any complications. Growing a human is no easy task; neither is recovering after they enter the world.
If you feel that you are struggling to get back into any kind of routine due to continued pain or other issues, we recommend asking your primary care doctor for a referral to have a pelvic floor PT evaluation completed. Having this done helps to find any small issues before they become something larger.
Accepting and Loving Your Postpartum Body
There is a difference between not caring for your health and learning to accept and love your postpartum body. Everything about your life and routine will change in what is commonly known as The Fourth Trimester.
Baby will be learning how to survive outside the womb, and you will be learning how to not only be there for your baby but also how to get yourself through this phase of all new “firsts.” Love your body for bringing this amazing human into your world!
Setting Healthy Goals
So what are some healthy goals that you can implement into your routine to help you reach realistic body goals during the early parts of the postpartum phase?
The first step is to add in some walking. There are so many benefits of walking during the postpartum period and beyond. This is also something you can start doing fairly quickly after having your baby, provided there are no medical restrictions, that can help you feel that you are taking steps back to a sense of normalcy.
Getting yourself and your baby outside for even a 5-minute walk can be the best way to give yourself a mental boost! If weather or other factors won’t permit it, a simple walk around the house can still be very effective for new moms and their babies.
Your body has been through some significant changes from pregnancy to postpartum. This is not a good time to try and deeply limit your caloric intake in hopes of losing those extra pounds and that post-baby belly. Your body needs proper nourishment for your physical health as well as your mental health. You will also want to consider that undereating could negatively affect your milk supply while you’re nursing.
Does this mean you should just eat whatever you see because you have “earned” it? Not necessarily. Think of quality over quantity when it comes to your food intake. Keeping a good balance of macronutrients in your system will help keep you on the right track for your body to recover and provide you with energy to keep up with your growing baby!
Macronutrients to include in each meal include:
- Protein-lean meats, eggs, protein powder
- Healthy Fats-avocado, olive oil, almonds
- Carbohydrates-fruits, veggies, whole grains
We know that sometimes those first few weeks are a blur, and at times, the food available to you is what others might bring to your home, so the best thing you can do is work with what you have and try not to stress about the rest. You will have plenty of time in the future to work on fitness goals and healthy diet plans.
Staying hydrated is also a huge part of the postpartum journey and getting your body back to a normal routine. Water helps keep everything moving in your body and helps with your mental clarity as well.
Slow and Controlled Core Movements
Pregnancy and delivery have put your core through a lot in the last 9 months, and that makes it a great place to start when it comes to rebuilding strength. The key is to keep your movements slow and controlled so that your core can gradually get back to a healthy state. For tips and videos on various postpartum exercises, check out the Move Your Way interactive site! A strong core provides the foundation for getting back into a regular exercise routine that includes strength training and more intense cardio sessions.
Grace and Lots of It
The first few weeks and months of your baby’s life will be full of amazing moments, but they will also be very exhausting! Remember that no matter how good of a plan you may have to get yourself back on track, there will be a lot of bumps along the way. Give yourself, your baby, and those closest to you a lot of grace through this season.
Keep your goals flexible, knowing that even if it takes a little bit longer than planned to get there, the most important part is keeping you and your baby healthy and happy.
Postpartum Body Image Struggles
We know that our bodies have gone through a lot, and for the average woman, it’s impossible to return to a pre-baby body early in the postpartum season, but that doesn’t make postpartum body image struggles go away.
When your hormones are all over the place, you haven’t slept for more than 3 consecutive hours in weeks, you have breast milk leaking all over the place, and you don’t remember the last time you took a shower, it is easy to get lost in all of the negative feelings. It’s okay to feel overwhelmed; the key is that you can’t let yourself stay there.
If you are at a point where you need more support in your postpartum journey, you may want to look into a postpartum doula. These professionals can come in and take care of a lot of the little tasks, as well as work with your support system so that they are better able to support you and your baby. They can take a lot of the mental load away so that you can focus more on healing and enjoying these little moments with your baby that you can’t get back!
Carrying, delivering, and learning to live with a newborn baby is an absolutely life-changing experience! The most important thing you can do is to try and set realistic postpartum body goals long before the baby gets here. There’s nothing wrong with having goals, but flexibility and grace will also need to play big roles in working with your post-pregnancy body!