When I was pregnant with my daughter, I threw out my scale.
I’d already been heading in the direction of loving my body regardless of my jean size or weight, and tossing out my scale was just another step toward helping me feel positive about my body all the time.
I’m so glad I did it, though I was not completely spared from seeing the number on the scale, since I was weighed at my many OB-GYN visits. In fact, at one memorable appointment, I’d gained 10 pounds!
Whenever I found myself freaking out a bit, though, I’d remind myself to do what I knew worked for me: Eat as many whole foods as possible (which sometimes meant not that many, depending on where I was in my pregnancy), move as much as I could and remember that I was currently growing another human being inside my body.
After my daughter was born, my body was the last thing on my mind. I was exhausted, covered in spit up and barely had time to shower, so I had no time for worries about my weight. Instead, I just ate as well as I could and moved as often as felt good.
My daughter is 10 months old now, and I’m back in the clothes I wore before I got pregnant (except my bras… ahem, breastfeeding makes that impossible), but that most certainly does not mean my body looks the same.
My linea nigra is still present, and I don’t know if it will ever go away. The stretch marks that made their appearance in the final few weeks of my pregnancy (just when I thought I’d make it through without them!) are still etched into my lower belly, though they are not the angry red they once were. And about that lower belly, it sags. I am not sure I can ever do enough planks or eat enough kale to tighten the skin back up. And I’m totally, completely fine with that.
If you are struggling to accept your new shape, or are pregnant and concerned about loving what you’re left with once your child is in your arms, here are three ways to love your post-baby body right now:
1. Compose a body appreciation list
Write down all of the reasons for which you deeply appreciate your body. Number one is probably that it carried your child. Note as many things as you can think of, including the fact that you can smell the spring flowers or hear the band playing your favorite song (yes, your nose and ears are part of your wonderful and amazing body!). You’ll be surprised by how many things you can appreciate about your body right this second, no matter what it looks like. For even more inspiration, print the list out and hang it somewhere you’ll see it regularly.
2. Challenge your negative thoughts
The reason you want your body to look a certain way? Because your thoughts tell you it “should.” And where do most of these thoughts come from? Probably media, magazines and maybe even family or friends. Every time you have a negative thought about your body, question it. Why do I think this? Is it true? What thought would feel better? Trust me, walking around with “I am taking the best care of my body possible” will serve you much better than “I hate my body and must lose weight ASAP.”
3. Think about how your child sees you
You are your baby’s whole entire world. To her, you are perfect. She needs you more than anything else in the world. As she grows older, she looks to you as an example of how to treat herself. Would you rather teach her that she should love and respect her body, mind and soul, or teach her that bodies are meant to be stressed and starved and hated?