“Getting Your Body Back” Post-Pregnancy

Let’s change the conversation.

Breastfeeding Photo by Leandro Cesar Santana on Unsplash

This one’s for all the mamas (and other parents) who have built a human inside of you, and after that superhuman trick, you’ve still stood in front of a mirror and doubted that your body was as it should be.

You might’ve read somewhere that you need to “get your body back” post-pregnancy. But guess what? Your incredible body is right there and has always been there. There is not one magical snapshot moment where your body was real or good, with the rest just a struggle to return to that moment. If it sometimes feels that way, those feelings are real, but let’s change perspective, together.

The movement is growing to celebrate our incredible bodies, with websites like My Post Baby Body and The Honest Body Project sharing not just photos, but stories, of post-partum people of all shapes and sizes. We can look and remind ourselves we’re not the only ones with stretch marks, loose skin, and oozing breasts. Sometimes it’s easier to see this strength and beauty in others, but I invite you to see it in yourself.

It helped me to read this poem over and over:

and i said to my body. softly. ‘i want to be your friend.’ it took a long breath. and replied ‘i have been waiting my whole life for this.’
Nayyirah Waheed

Pregnancy affects us all differently. For me, I treasured the opportunity to stop sucking in, to realize I had been doing it in the first place. I’d spent so long wanting my body to be different, smaller, but finally my body was doing something inarguably amazing: growing another person. I loved that bump, and I promised myself I would hold on to that feeling, would keep loving this body that grew my favorite person in the universe.

Me with my brand new baby (Author’s personal photo.)

Let’s be real: it’s hard to find time to even bathe when you’re a new mom. My kid was 2 before I started taking care of my body. I started flossing, doing almost-daily YouTube yoga (Yoga with Adriene!) I told my body, “I am going to keep you healthy and strong, because I love myself, and because I want to be a role model for my daughter.”

We have a ritual: I hold my kid — almost 4 years old — and she rests her head on my shoulder, while we sing along to Kesha’s Rainbow: “Darling, our scars make us who we are.” I want self-love to come easier for her, and I want to remember that I deserve it too.

“Rainbow” by Kesha, on YouTube

You — yes, you — were once a tiny baby. One day, if you’re lucky, you will be old and gray and wrinkly. Let’s hope to live to see our bodies change and change and change again.

A version of this piece appeared in the September 2018 print issue of Raise Vegan Magazine. It is used here with full permission.