By Sara El Halabi J.

It’s a typical busy day as I hurry to take my children to school. But something stops me as I walk in front of the mirror, the post-pregnancy stretch marks imprinted across my saggy belly. “These are things that will hardly change,” I tell myself. Nonetheless, I smile proudly at my reflection. That doesn’t stop me from loving my body!

I enjoyed each of my three pregnancies. Many women don’t deny that during the first trimester, they feel superb, of course, until the final months. I enjoyed eating, though I watched my portions, the extra attention, and the comfy maternity clothes. 

Then comes the day when you meet your long-awaited baby.  You marvel at how your body could make such a miracle. Everything seems perfect!

After a few days, if not hours, I realised my life had changed forever. Besides the sleepless nights, tiredness, and the blues, I had to deal with another significant change. I am talking about my postpartum body.

My Struggles To Accept My Postpartum Body

My pregnancies went relatively smooth, with just a few complications at the beginning of the first one. I tended to accumulate body liquid, which left me extremely inflamed from waist to toes immediately after birth.

When my body returned to normal a few weeks after giving birth to my first baby, I thought it would be so every time. Nonetheless, following my next two pregnancies, I barely lost my belly fat and hardly regained my physical image, mainly because they were so close to one another.

I also experienced mild Postpartum Depression (PPD) after my second daughter was born. This post-pregnancy stage is more common than you may think, as 10-20% of new mothers experience PPD. It’s often a result of the hormones stabilizing and leveling out to function as they did before pregnancy. 

I’d allow myself time in the afternoons to cry myself out. If you’re one of the few new moms who don’t experience postpartum disorder and your body returns to normal after your second, third, or fourth pregnancy, hats off to you. Otherwise, don’t worry, dear. You aren’t alone.

I felt worse when I started my exercise routine after my last pregnancy and my clothes still didn’t fit. I had to give them away.

Seven Tips To Embrace Your Post Pregnancy Body

A strong mindset, self-acceptance, and mindfulness were what empowered me. Here are the tips that help me regain a stronger self-image and love my body as it is.

1. Don’t Waste Time And Energy On Self-Hatred

Accepting yourself is the first step to happiness. Instead of wasting time with negative self-talk, be mindful of your new life now that you have these little ones to accompany you.

2. Be Grateful For Your Body 

Your body has just made a miracle! Creating and having a baby is enough to gain self-appreciation.

3. Pamper Yourself With Self-Care 

Seek support from a relative, friend or partner to allow you a day where you can be alone and take care of yourself.

4. Eat A Healthy Diet 

Instead of craving an unhealthy snack when you experience PPD or anxiety,  support your body with nutritious food, which is also the best option to fight stress. 

Be mindful of what you eat and stay hydrated at all times. This is your best ally to drop the after-birth weight besides breastfeeding.

5. Stay Active 

Exercise tones and strengthens your muscles and reduces flaccidity. After four to eight weeks, you can return to your workout routine. Consider which exercises you’ll do if you’re breastfeeding since intense physical activity can affect the quality and quantity of your milk.

6. Indulge With A New Stylish Mom-Look

Forcing your body to fit into your old clothes after a few days of giving birth is mean. Instead, change your style to comfortable clothes that allow you to move and attend to your new obligations more easily. This boosts your self-image while you get back on track.

7. Allow Time To Recover 

Sometimes, the postpartum effects need help to recover. The blues, stress and depression only last as your hormones return to their places. Meanwhile, enjoy your baby, adapt to your new role and take good care of yourself.

I’ll Never Regret My Pregnancies

I am a mother! This is enough to make myself proud and grateful for the family my body created. I learned to accept my stretch marks and not-so-perfect belly. I’ve stopped sacrificing good moments to fit into postpartum support because my friends did so. I still can’t get rid of all the cellulitis it caused me!

So, I shut down all the external noises and focused on my well-being by allowing my body the time to recover and my mind to find self-appreciation and confidence. When I stopped feeling frustrated by comparing myself to others and started to love my post-pregnancy body, I found peace and enjoyed life more.