It is all well and good people saying just accept yourself and appreciate your body for the amazing thing it has done, and yes of course I would take permanent stretch marks and constant jiggle for the healthy growth and delivery of my son any day but that doesn’t make it easy. There are some really strong accounts on Instagram where mamas are showcasing their postpartum bodies, stripes, flab and all – and it is inspiring. But how do we get from here to there?
I have always carried a little extra weight and when I was officially diagnosed with PCOS and had to undergo tests for fertility treatment, they discovered that my hormones were very much acting against me which is why I went from carrying a little extra weight to being overweight and by BMI standards, obese within two years. I was encouraged to work on shifting the pounds and I had devised a plan when I fell pregnant much sooner than anticipated.
So here I was now overweight and pregnant with very little exercise in my repertoire so being told that starting anything whilst pregnant, especially being a higher risk pregnancy was not advised. Fair enough.
After I had given birth, my stomach reduced quickly and apart from the stretch marks and extra skin, I was pretty much back where I was before I fell pregnant. When my son was 12 weeks old and we had a handle on things, I was working 2-3 hours per day from home, the house was in as much order as it was before he was born etc I brought in clean eating and we starting eating only meat, fish and vegetables. Two weeks later I started working out three times per week. We are about to head into week five of healthy eating and week three of working out and I haven’t lost so much as a gram but I feel better in myself, stronger.
What made me feel fierce this morning was that for the first time since my little one was born four months ago I wore knickers that weren’t maternity knickers. I worked out even though we had a rough night. I put on actual trousers (not stretchy pretend ones with no pockets). I even went as far as to put on some eyeliner before I left the house. Now for me, this is progress. This is me doing the best that I can for my body and learning to be patient while it not only recovers but gets stronger than before. This is how I am learning to accept my postpartum body, and no, it isn’t easy and it isn’t overnight. And I would have double the weight and deeper the tiger stripes if it meant my son was fit and well but as a woman, and this is important because this is what makes me more than a mom, as a woman – I need to accept my body but in order to do so, I need to give it the best chance by taking care of it.
I am working on my body to show her how grateful I am for what she has given me. I am not trying to get my body back (I hate this term because it didn’t go anywhere, it was there all along performing a magnificent task). I am not trying to get to a certain size or fit a particular quota. I am fuelling my body so she is healthy and strong for my son. I am taking care of her because she deserves some TLC. I am honouring her because I want her to be fit so she can handle a sleepless night and then a hectic day at the office without fading. But it is a learning curve and whilst I know all these things, I still stand in front of the mirror and poke at my wrinkling pouch of a stomach and pull a face.
Everyone is different, some people were super fit before they conceived and look amazing a few weeks afterwards and as much as I want to be jealous of them – most of the time, they worked damn hard for their fitness and should be celebrated as much as a mama just starting out postpartum. Thin, fat, lean, chubby, underweight, overweight – whatever the case may be, we carried humans until their birth day and we should respect ourselves enough as moms and as women to take care of ourselves. Keeping in mind that everyone’s priorities of self care are different and should all be supported whether its getting to the gym or taking an academic course.
I’m learning to accept my postpartum body by doing my best to make her strong. How are you learning to accept your postpartum body?