Simple ways to help you accept and adore the body baby gave you by Julie Gladnick, Denver Therapist
1. Stop Comparing Whether you are comparing yourselves to someone in your mom’s group, your irritating neighbor, or a celebrity on countless check-out line magazine covers, we are ALL unique. And remember, appearances aren’t always what they seem. Women of all shapes and sizes struggle with body image issues and even deeper self-esteem issues. You are your own, beautiful woman and mother. Embrace it.
2. Take a Look at Your Beautiful Bambino or Bambina (or growing belly)
You CREATED (or are creating:) him or her in your BODY. You created this most beautiful and incredible life with your own amazing body. Your BEAUTIFUL body. Every added inch, extra pound, stretch mark, dark circle, and saggy breast/behind/chin/underarm/etc., played a part in bringing this life into the world. You are one powerful and beautiful woman.
3. Embrace Change
Yes, life is different now. No longer is life about you and your partner, but it is centered around your little one. This little one in your life is something you may have dreamed of for years and years; something many still dream of and pray for each and every day, but may be not as fortunate to have. Embrace your new lifestyle.
Yes, party nights are cut short (or non-existent), and it may seem like ions since you shared an intimate moment with your partner. But, again, refer to #2. You now are blessed with a love that is greater than anyone has ever been able to describe. A love that may complete your family in ways you never dreamed of. Remember that first smile (even if it was gas), that first giggle, and the way your little one looks at you and adores you, unconditionally. Stretch marks, sagginess and all. This is what life is about for you now. Embrace it.
4. Take Care of Yourself
This is one of the most important, yet most difficult, points on this list. As a new mother, it can be incredibly difficult to free yourself from the guilt of taking some time for yourself. It is important and vital to remember, however, that being a better mom includes feeling good about yourself, feeling strong and feeling rested. Ask your husband to watch the baby for a few hours and take a nap, get a pedicure, go for a walk, meet a friend for lunch, read a book- anything that is just for you.
5. Bring Back that Loving Feeling
It can be hard to remember the last time you and your partner had alone time (passed out on the couch or in bed does not count). Just as important as taking care of yourself, it’s important to take care of your relationship. It may not be the most spontaneous, but scheduling time to be intimate, cuddle on the couch, or just catch up on non-baby related on goings, are really important aspects to feeling good about yourself and your partner. Hire a sitter or ask a friend or family member to watch your son or daughter at LEAST once per month and have a date night. Go out, have fun, and don’t talk about baby (or at least try to minimize it:)
6. Dress to Feel GREAT
Squeezing yourself into something that may have fit before baby is not helping anything. Not only do you not feel good inside, but you are also likely fairly uncomfortable. Stop trying to will yourself into clothes that may have fit before your pregnancy. Your body just built a PERSON. Things have shifted. Not only is that OK, but it’s also expected. Go out and indulge and reward yourself with some new clothes that make you feel like the beautiful woman and mother or mother-to-be that you are. Bring a friend for support if you need to. Wearing clothes that you feel beautiful in can help exude your inner beauty, as well. Also, please treat yourself to some sexy lingerie! Feeling beautiful beneath what others see will make you feel special and confident and certainly help to enhance #5 :)
7. Build a Support Network
As easy as it is to go through the tips on this handout, the truth is that you may have days where you just don’t feel great about how you look. Be kind to yourself. That’s OK. The more we can learn to accept the feelings we have and to embrace them, the less power they will have over us. The most important part, however, is having a support network where you feel comfortable in being you. Join up with other new moms or moms-to-be, whether you find a local group through Meetup.com or bigtent.com, a friend or two you make at the grocery store, yoga class or pediatrician’s office, or an existing friend that may be going through exactly what you are. Remember, insecurities and body image issues do not discriminate. Although it may be deceiving at times, women of all shapes and sizes may be struggling with their own self-love and body acceptance issues, and having a safe place to talk about it can be extremely therapeutic.
8. Get Out of the House!
Whether you are preparing for baby’s arrival or in the midst of running between the laundry, a dirty diaper, and baby’s breakfast in your hair, it can feel overwhelming to get a shower, let alone get out of the house. Fresh air, however, can do wonders for you and your baby. Call a friend and meet at a local park for a walk with your little ones (don’t let the weather deter you! there are plenty of indoor options such as yoga, swimming, or even a casual coffee or lunch date that can help increase your good feelings and self-confidence.) Just keep in mind #1 when you do get out of the house, and embrace the beauty of the world just outside your door.
9. Seek Professional Support
Talking to a therapist can be an incredibly supportive way to take care of yourself in a safe and nonjudgmental environment. It can be very cathartic to be able to express some of the things we are afraid to or ashamed to admit to our friends and loved ones. If you are looking for additional support, talk to some other friends that you feel comfortable with and ask for a good referral.
10. Love Yourself!
A mother’s love is arguably the greatest of all loves. However, when it comes to loving ourselves, we often come regrettably short. Loving yourself is the most important piece on this list. In order to be the best mother you can be, you have to love and take care of yourself first.
Remind yourself each day of how blessed you are to have that beautiful child or beautiful belly and acknowledge yourself for the love that helps him or her grow.
Surround yourself with people who love and accept you, and compliment yourself DAILY. Write compliments down and post them to your mirrors if necessary; every positive and encouraging thought helps to replace a negative and self-deprecating one. Remind yourself of all of your beauty, both inside and out, and the gratitude that you both feel and deserve.
Join Julie for her workshop Babies, Bellies & Bliss at Belly Bliss. Her next workshop is Wednesday June 19th. Click here to read more.