Making Peace With Your Post Pregnancy Body

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After having a baby, so much changes. I struggled and I’m sure you’ve struggle, too. Here’s how to make peace with your post pregnancy body.

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Making Peace With Your Post Pregnancy Body

The magazine industry has waged a war against your post pregnancy body.

This may sound like hyperbole to those who haven’t gone to the grocery store soon after giving birth or those who do not have a background in women’s studies, but I know I felt that the glossy focus on post-birth weight loss interrupted the inner peace I strove to establish with pre-natal yoga and my worn out copy of Sara Ruddick’s Maternal Thinking: Toward a Politics of Peace. I felt as though I had been entered in a race against all other new mothers against my will, and that I was destined to lose the battle instead of the weight.

It took me until baby #2 to realize that I had accepted a faulty frame for the conversation surrounding my body. My friends encouraged my fight against my new stretch marks, belly, and sagging breasts, as many had engaged in the same behavior themselves. I never felt like they were policing me, but they congratulated me for “taking my body back.” I’m not saying that focusing on yourself during this difficult time post-pregnancy makes you a bad mother—in fact, take all the time to yourself that you need, it will secure your sanity—I just think that a more balanced approach to our lives, especially during times of change, can serve to make us better mothers and more centered women. (Here’s 9 great postpartum looks for new moms to love!)

The first faulty belief I labored under was that my post pregnancy body was no longer mine, and was instead an object of public scrutiny. When my friends congratulated me for “taking my body back,” I knew that it wasn’t my sons who were “taking” my body from me—it was, instead, all of the people who were making my body their business by commenting on my weight loss, weight gain, whether I was drinking caffeine or not, whether I would breastfeed or not. I didn’t question whether or not there would be a conversation about my body. For women, whose bodies have the ability to grow, shrink, and change in a grotesque manner, most of the attention we receive tends to be focused on our physical attributes as opposed to whether we are intelligent, loving, and fierce.

Tips for loving your post pregnancy body

Once I realized that my body was mine regardless of whether I adopted an exercise routine fit for an Olympic athlete, I quickly noticed that the conversation around my body and the bodies of all other new mothers remained loud and violent on the newsstands and mommy blogs. Women had “good” or “bad” post-pregnancy bodies. These were measurable in pounds. We are expected to “escape” from these pounds, to “lose” them. We are supposed to be at a battle with our weight, as though we don’t have anything else that should concern us. We claim to be “the only woman ever who didn’t lose weight from nursing.” We quickly accept a war against a body—our bodies—that just created a new life. Why isn’t that considered as valuable as getting back to work at your pre-pregnancy weight?


I don’t care what your position on sociobiology is—this is what our bodies are designed to do. No, they are not designed to eat processed foods or to be sedentary for long stretches of the day, either.  I acknowledge that some women aren’t designed to have babies and some choose not to become pregnant. Nevertheless, those of us who have given birth have participated in a natural process, and our bodies change permanently because of it. That’s supposed to happen. Of course, it’s as difficult to escape the conversation about our bad bodies as it is to escape our additional “bad” weight. I knew all of this, but it took a different skill set to embody it. Check out these 25 self love affirmations to live by!

It was powerful for me to realize that the way I talked about my body mattered, but it was hardly enough.  In order to actually embody peace, I had to start by avoiding what felt like war. I went on a blog-and-Facebook fast. For two months, I did all of my grocery shopping at my local co-op, whose newsstands featured Yoga Journal instead of People. I turned off the TV in the evening and thought of other ways I might enjoy spending time with my sons. We took walks as a family. We had to force ourselves to do this sometimes, but it was always worth it. We still occasionally do this.

Continuing my pre-natal yoga practice into my post-natal life also helped me to maintain my peace. I set my intention at acceptance. I didn’t look at it as exercise. I praised what my body could do, and dressed in ways that made me feel good. This didn’t come easily or naturally, and I found that both sharing my realizations with a friend and journaling about my feelings—and any shame spiral I encountered—helped me to accept, well, acceptance. Eventually I had to go back to blogs and checkout counters, and I adopted Byron Katie’s process of inquiry in order to deal with whatever feelings of inadequacy that might arise.  I questioned whether my feelings of inadequacy were true, and whether I could know for sure that I was inadequate. I turned the statement around on itself.

Eventually, it didn’t matter whether I lost the weight or not, or if I would ever be the same again. I had changed, and that came with extra pounds, stretch marks, and a sense of inner peace that only wavers when I forget that my body is mine and that I have the tools to turn around the conversation that I’m having about myself.

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  1. I’m on the road to acceptance at nine months post-partum. I recently purged my wardrobe of items that no longer fit and were depressing me. I got rid of a lot of stuff and feel so much better.
    I recently wrote about the nine wardrobe items I’m at peace with never wearing again:

  2. I’m still fighting with myself over post pregnancy #5 😉 great article, though!

  3. Highly energetic post, I enjoyed that a lot. Will there
    be a part 2?

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