Postpartum body: The one exercise you should try
And I'm not talking about physical activity.
In a world of filtered and airbrushed images, it's not hard to see why so many women are worried about their postpartum bodies. I'm not going to sit here and tell you to be in awe of your body for creating and birthing another human being. You know that, and it doesn't help if you're body has changed in ways that mean you have less confidence or self esteem. But what I am going to do is pass on an exercise I learnt in therapy after having Rex, which really helped me deal with how my body had changed.
Postpartum bodies are minefield of a subject and one I reckon we could all have talked about in group for hours. Every woman has their own body issues, some of which extend way beyond how they may have changed after pregnancy and childirth. In order to address our hang ups, in therapy we were asked to draw two female figures and annotate them – the first with how we saw ourselves, the second with how we thought our babies felt about our bodies. And the contrast was stark.
Almost everything we noted about ourselves was negative; cellulite, jelly belly, muffin top, bags under our eyes, hair that breaks and falls out as soon as you touch it, droopy boobs, veins everywhere, no bladder control, c-section scars that haunt and still hurt some, the list went on.
But when switced our focus to how our baby sees our bodies, it couldn't have been more different. Babies don’t see or recognise any of the physical imperfections we think we have. They aren't bothered by our so-called bingo wings, instead they see comfort in our arms and shoulders and safety in our cuddle. Bags under our eyes are ignored, instead they see love in our eyes and entertainment in our expressions. Child-bearing hips are new favourite place for our tiny humans to sit. The session was enlightening, and I've honestly never felt more in awe of and grateful for my body.
Postpartum body: "Mum, your boobs look like feet"
During the therapy session in which we did this exercise there were a lot of tears as myself and the brilliant women around me divulged their body issues. But there was a lot of love, compassion, empathy and laughter too. Support groups like this not only help you deal with parental issues your facing, they also put you into contact with some of the most wonderful people.
One of the best moments of this session was when one of the mums told us her one of her older children wandered into the bathroom recently and told her that her boobs look like feet because they were ‘sooooooo long’. You’ve got to love the honesty of kids, right?
Another mum not so long ago told me when her little boy saw her pubic hair, he pointed and shouted ‘Ergh Mummy, POO!’. Thankfully my pelvic floor was in tact then, otherwise there most definitely would’ve been a puddle on the floor.
Postpartum body: Super support
For anyone who thinks they might need some help, with any aspect of parenting, I can't recommend support groups like this enough. The group I went to is where I learnt to appreciate myself more and not be as hard on myself as a mum. And that actually, all Rex really wants is for me to love him and be there.
As a new mum, I was always very quick to focus on what I can’t do, or what I didn't think I was doing right, and I still am like that to a degree now. But now I do try to stop on occasion and recognise the countless things I am doing or trying to do to be the best mum I can for Rex. And you should too. Be kind to yourselves, lovely ladies, and your beautiful postpartum bodies.
For more information on support groups, head over the parent support page.