I had a baby. And now what? What do I do with my post pregnancy body? I know it is my body, but it is different and I feel it, I see it, but I don’t feel it’s me, not anymore. This is how I felt when I had just had Ethan, our son. And that feeling lasted almost 6 years. Now, 5 and a half years later I have finally understood what to do with my post pregnancy body, and I feel really good about myself.
How? I stopped judging my body. And I did something amazing for myself, I stopped listening to others.
My post pregnancy body is still my body
Our post pregnancy body is still our body. At times we may feel uncomfortable about it because it is maybe not the shape we remember and desire, but we still need to treat it with respect and kindness. We need to treat ourselves with kindness and respect. The whole of ourselves.
I was one of those women looking at the reflection of my post pregnancy body in the mirror and telling myself “You are fat”. Those days I was unhappy enough to say it out loud, more often than not, a flock of well-meaning friends and family rushed to my rescue making excuses for myself. “But you just had a baby..!”. And so I carried my post pregnancy body weight on for more than 5 years because it was comfortable.
Until 3 months ago…
Stop blaming your body (and yourself)
Your body is not the one to blame.
We need to embrace the idea that there is nothing wrong with us (and our body). It works for you and with you. You and your body are one. And if you treat your body unkindly, you treat yourself unkindly. That does not help.
I had this weird idea that my post pregnancy body was not co-operating with me and it was, in fact, trying to trick me. In my head I thought I was very good, but the scale didn’t agree with that. I clung with my teeth to my ex size 10 clothes for years, until I had to give up on the idea of my look before my post pregnancy body and see myself as my body looks now.
A woman very close to my heart tried to make me see that my post pregnancy body was beautiful, but I found that not many people understood my discomfort, especially those who never got back in shape. In her view, I had an unrealistic expectation about my look and my post pregnancy body. But I did not want another woman’s body, I wanted the best version of mine! And there is nothing wrong with wanting that. In my heart, I knew I had to do something to make myself feel better.
I am aware that I am not 20 anymore, and my body was different back then. There are wrinkles and grey hair where once there weren’t, but I know myself and my body well enough to know what shape it can have.
I do not believe in impossibilities just because someone tells me so, because I am a firm believer that if we want something hard enough, we will do whatever it takes to get it.
My pre post pregnancy body image
I had an image in my mind of how I looked and I could not let it go. I did not want to. For me, it was like admitting defeat, and I am not that kind of person.
I love food, and I came to realise that food was a form of unconscious comforting and stress relief, but knowing it is not enough to change my habits. I was waiting for a magic formula that could change things miraculously without too much effort on my part.I must admit, I had no motivation strong enough to change my habits, or what I was doing. And this lead to the same result over and over again.
A different kind of miracle
I was almost ready to give up on my idea to get back in shape. I could not find the right solution no matter how many books on diet and different work out I read.
I even hired a PT I did things I loathed for months. It did, literally, nothing for me.
An insensitive comment was my wake up call. It, quite literally, changed my perception of myself in an instant.
One evening Ethan’s babysitter came to our house. I was dressed nicely, I had make up on, and I felt quite good about myself. At a certain point, Ethan’s babysitter look around the kitchen and commented “You eat well, don’t you? Everything is organic in your kitchen”. Pleased with her comment, I replied jokingly “We do try to eat healthy, but that does not make us any thinner”.
She gave a good hard look at me, and told me “Well, Carlo is…you not so much”. I froze, literally. Her remark hit me hard in the face.
The day after I woke up feeling awful. But I needed to hear that. Now, what to do?
A couple of days after that comment, I organised a play date with one of those naturally thin mums and I found her even healthier, fitter and glowing, so I asked her what she had done to look so fantastic. And she told me enthusiastically about a new nutrition regime she had been following, and its health benefits. Funnily enough, it was one of those diet books I had discarded as “not for me” because it included fasting for 2 days a week. No way I could do without food. The sole idea made me feel anxious and cranky.
But I listened with an open mind, I watched all the videos she sent me, and decided it give it a chance. The day after I started the new regime, and here I am 3 months after, 5 kilos lighter and immensely happier.
What changing my post pregnancy body did for me
I look at myself in the mirror and I like what I see, and I feel more confident. I have also a renewed sense of trust in myself because I showed myself I could achieve this result, and i can see it. I was right, my goal and my desire wasn’t out of reach. I just needed to find the right motivation and the right system that worked for me and fit my lifestyle.
I now actually look forward to those 2 days of fasting and my body has adjusted beautifully. And my ex size 10 is coming closer..
There are things that I know they are not going to be reverted, but my shape is getting there and I am very proud of myself. I am also grateful to Ethan’s babysitter for her insensitive remark because it game me the push I needed to change. Once the decision is taken, the way will show itself.
Beware of friends and family; this is your post pregnancy body
At times, well-meaning friends and family can do more harm than good to us by being complacent.
Being supportive does not mean always say the things we know the other person will find acceptable or wants to hear.
Many women who had a baby find difficult to deal with their post pregnancy body because the change that a pregnancy brings is often uncomfortable. For months, your body becomes the vessel for something so more important than just yourself, and it is a beautiful process, but then we are left with a body we do not necessarily recognise anymore. It is ours, but it feels and looks different as well. And it is not only a question of letting go of the idea of our body before the pregnancy, as many people seem to think. It was not for me, at least, and I am happy I didn’t listen to any others than myself.
I had so many beautiful mums in front of my lenses over the years, that I simply had proof that it was possible to get back in shape.
Now, after so many years, I find that my post pregnancy body is just my body, and no matter how many flaws it can have, I now finally find it beautiful.