Experiencing pregnancy and postpartum has significantly changed my body image, in the most positive way possible. Before getting pregnant, I was pretty self conscious about my body. No matter how “skinny” I was, I was always able to find a flaw when looking in the mirror. I pretty much always felt like I could afford to lose 5 or so pounds (even when I couldn’t). In hindsight, I was crazy.
During my second trimester of pregnancy (after all the nausea and bloating went away), I gained an unexpected body confidence. In the past, I always wore loose clothing and would never wear a dress that was too form fitting, in fear that tight clothes would hug the wrong places and show off the fact that I didn’t have a perfectly flat stomach. Now I was suddenly wearing these tight dresses and I felt GREAT. I didn’t feel like I had to “suck it in” all the time in order to look the way I wanted. I didn’t care! I was letting my body doing its thing and loving it.
Fast forward to almost 8 months postpartum, I feel so differently about my body now than I did before pregnancy. I no longer agonize about how I could look better and I truly appreciate my body for what it is - AMAZING. It grew a baby for 9 months and has been feeding one for over 8. I am about 5 pounds heavier than my pre pregnancy weight, but that doesn’t even mean anything. I have hardly weighed myself, to be honest. Even if the number was exactly the same, my body is completely different. It will probably never be the same, so seeing the same number on the scale would be meaningless. When a woman is nursing, her body naturally hang on to about 5 extra pounds due to the hormone prolactin. My nursing days are far from over, so I’m going to love every bit of that five pounds. I’ve learned to accept what my current body is going through and honoring what it needs.
Eating well and exercising have taken on a new meaning. Rather than it be about how I look (which I hate to admit that this was a component in my past), it’s all about feeling good. When I don’t eat well, I’m sluggish and moody and do not act like the best version of myself. This is not someone I want raising my child. If I were to “diet” and restrict my eating, my milk supply would likely be decreased. At this point, breastfeeding is a non negotiable and takes precedence above all else. Exercise is for my sanity and boosts my energy when I feel stuck at home all day. While I used to be an avid runner and considered a “good” workout something intense that had me sweating buckets, I am now happy with a walk, yoga, or light weights (any kind of movement, really!) in my basement. I am generally a person who likes to move, so if I don’t feel like working out one day, I don’t!
Everyday I am reminded how Rory has changed me for the better. I have learned to prioritize where to put my energy and where to let go. Worrying about how thin I look is simply exhausting. Who has time for that?! And this goes without saying, but I am not saying that a postpartum woman should sit on the couch all day and eat whatever she wants. She should eat as clean as possible, get some movement in, and take some time for herself. Taking care of myself while not getting carried away or being too strict has set me up for success as a mother.