My last baby was born at 41 weeks on the nose. She's my fifth, so I know a thing or two or twenty about what I was to expect in those first hours, days, weeks--heck the whole first year--after she arrived. I'm one of those who likes to celebrate each little milestone throughout a pregnancy and since we'd planned for her to be our fifth and final baby--I also wanted to make sure I celebrated my postpartum-hood too.
This is a picture I snapped three days after giving birth, still looking a bit pregnant. So what? I captioned it like this: 3 days postpartum. I know it might sound a little nuts, but I'm in no real hurry for my belly to disappear. Making my family has been one of the greatest seasons and pleasures of my life so far. Proud of what this body has done for me. So happy all seven of us are here.
And that was the truth. I wanted to give my body the respect it rightly deserved for hanging in there and working hard. I found myself doing these four things to give my postpartum body a high-five, a fist bump, or maybe just a loving figurative pat on the back to honor it (and thus, honor me).
1. Be gentle with yourself. There is no time-table, no bell curve to follow, no rush. Give yourself ample time and space to heal. You must if you are to recover. Regardless of how the birth went down, there is no doubt in my mind you rocked it in your own way. Allow those first weeks and months time for the birth magic to settle. Use the time to learn about your new life with your little one.
2. Do what you want to do with your body....because it's YOUR body. It sounds like a no-brainer, but I think sometimes even the smartest of us new mamas can succumb to societal pressure to be bikini ready (whatever that means) in a few weeks' time. Sure, go ahead and resume your regular activities if you WANT to. Work out if you WANT to. Not because you think you HAVE to or because you think other people think you should. Your body, your baby, your postpartum. Do it your way.
3. Practice positive self-talk. Please practice positive self-talk. Tell the negative commentator in your head to HUSH UP! You deserve to hear loving things said about you by you! You are good enough. Smart enough. And @#$% girl, you're worth it. Are you familiar with January Harshe's #takebackpostpartum movement? Or the 4th Trimester Bodies Project? What about Jade Beall's Facilitating Self-Love? We all slip into critical mode at times, but practice will help you climb out quicker. Learn from the women who have found a way to love themselves unconditionally.
4. Realize it's a process. Here we're circling back around to number 1 with the idea of being gentle and slow with your postpartum self. Because do you realize sweet, new mama--there is purpose in the process? Oh yes. Your body is still working for you and with you to help you bond with your babe, to breastfeed your babe, to get things back into place and just so. It takes time to embrace a new normal; this version of you. Realized your postpartum self is a magnificent self.
When you think about it, honoring your postpartum body is really about empowerment. This is you now. Claim it. Love it. Own it. You got this, Mama. Now show yourself some kindness.