How to be Friends with your Postnatal Body
Written by Randi Zinn.
Along with all the joy of discovering you will become a mother and all the excitement that goes with knowing you will welcome your little bundle into the world, is an inordinate amount of worry and anxiety. The list of reasons why is long, but here are just a few examples: a complete change of life as you know it, the overwhelming reality that someone’s life is literally in your hands forever, not to mention the questions about your career and the state of the world and how that relates to your child’s potential safety. It’s a lot to assume the role of a parent.
And yet, at the end of the day, becoming a mother starts with our body and I’ve discovered from many conversations with new moms, that a great deal of their worry starts with the state of their body! Women worry about their strength, their weight, how their body will look and feel, and their sexuality. It seems so obvious to say that our bodies go through a metamorphosis, but rarely do we discuss how worrisome that can be to a woman and why. Feeling this worry is NOT shallow, but is, in fact, a major factor in the process to becoming the NEW woman who is born when her baby is. Regardless of our past relationship with our physical body, watching it go through pregnancy, birth, and the postpartum period is a lot to process emotionally. Our body is not a symbol, but the grounding force for our life!
So how do we step out of the worry about the changes our body will go through and instead befriend our postnatal body so that we can navigate changes healthily and ultimately arrive in the form we want to be in (which for most moms becomes an aspiration for strength and energy)? Using two critical tools for any new mom, you can navigate this time of body uncertainty, changes, and even, discomfort.
It starts with Mindfulness - bringing your attention to the moment, to your thoughts, and seeing them for what they are. In other words, you don’t have to “lose yourself” in emotions, but instead, observe what’s come up for you and simply be with it. When you’re more grounded using mindfulness, you are able to be resourceful and make the most of the tools you have.
Here are a few tips to befriend your postnatal body using two of my favorite and critical practices for any mom: mindfulness and resourcefulness.
Your body is an ever-changing entity
No matter what stage it’s in, your body’s current state is not forever. Pain, extra weight, large breasts, inability to nurse, and of course, sleeplessness, are all moments in time that will pass. In motherhood moments it can feel like we are stuck in an abyss, a moment that will never change. Exhaustion and surging hormones will do that. Trust me, as a mother of two, and a friend to many moms, every moment passes. Your body is part of that. The awkward postpartum period when you don’t fit into maternity clothes or your pre-pregnancy clothes are confusing and draining. It’s when you want to move your body, but you haven’t been cleared by your doctor and your boobs feel so heavy that bouncing seems like a risk! Trust me, these moments will pass! Your body will adjust back to itself and you will move again with ease. Trust in this truth and take deep breaths.
Use resources around you and move
When you are present, you see the resources you have around you. The early days postpartum when you’re body doesn’t yet feel like yours- is the perfect time to find gentle, easy movement. Long walks with a baby in stroller or carrier, walks with other moms at a nearby track or mall, or even a fitness or yoga class created for moms with a little one in tow! Movement, companionship, something to do with your baby, are all excellent ways to befriend your body in the moment, often in the company of others going through a similar transition. It’s a very positive experience to do this time, this way.
Celebrate the power of your female body!
Sadly, our culture doesn’t celebrate strength and softness in women at the same time. But there’s no reason we can’t do it for each other and ourselves. Celebrating our strength should be easy. Anyone who has been through it knows how epic it is to carry a pregnancy and give birth. We really and truly are superwomen to do it. Just meditate on how amazing you are as a life giver! Consider that as you get your body back to movement - finding your body’s strength again will allow you to be an active and productive mom. If it feels tough at first, encourage yourself and don’t berate yourself. You have done so much, this you can do too! Let’s also celebrate our softness. Babies are soft, our bodies are soft after birth, we are sleepy and hungry, and we must do an exceptional amount of snuggling. Embrace this sweet softness, knowing that it is fleeting. Trust me, you will soon be chasing this little person down the street!.
It’s so easy to get into a cycle of self-criticism or worse - wanting to be anywhere but where you are. Part of “going beyond Mom” (read my book, Going Beyond Mom, for more on what this means and how to make this motherhood experience enriching and meaningful for yourself!), is wanting to be in the moment, fully. The only way to do that is to accept it, for all of its imperfections and to recognize the beauty in them. This is a great lesson of motherhood and it is one that begins with your body….embrace it.
ABOUT RANDI ZINN:
Randi Zinn is the founder of Beyond Mom and BeyondMom.com. Born from her own experience of motherhood, and the desire for a more connected community- Beyond Mom offers: content, podcasts, mixers, events, and retreats for forward-thinking Moms. She encourages moms to cultivate a life “Beyond Mom”- one that embraces the gifts of motherhood but expresses all that they are as individuals: creators, businesswomen, thinkers, friends, and so much more.
Randi is an ambassador for Athleta and has partnered with Comptoir Des Cotonniers, SoulCycle, Mio Skincare, TOWN Real Estate, The Mother Company, Body Conceptions and IntenSati.
Her writing has appeared in Honest Company Blog, FitBump, Epoch Times and Well Rounded NY. She is a certified yoga instructor through Laughing Lotus NY and has taught since 2008.
Randi’s first book Going Beyond Mom: How To Activate Your Mind, Body & Business After Baby, will be published on September 19, 2017.
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