Having a child is life-changing and your body’s usually the first to feel it. Weight, shape and hormones are all subject to change and it can be very difficult for new mums to deal with their ‘new you’.
“There’s a lot that happens to our bodies,” says psychotherapist Ginny Lindsay from From 2 to 3. “One of my clients was saying ‘my body doesn’t look the same, my belly is saggy, my boobs are like deflated beach balls that need to be pumped some air into, my nipples are the size of dinner plates and my stretchmarks are like battle scars. I don’t feel sexy, I feel tired and snappy and when I do exercise, my pelvic floor wees.”
Specialising in counselling new families, Ginny urges mothers to embrace their new bodies rather than lament their old one, and focus on the family it’s now given you.
Listen to Ginny's interview with Kinderling Conversation:
Here’s her great advice for loving your new post-baby body.
1. Ignore social media
Social media doesn’t help [your perception]. You’ve got these women that are pregnant one minute, and back in a bikini the next. Everyone’s hormones and metabolism are different.
2. Patience is key
“One of things to realise is that it took nine months to actually put on the weight, so for a lot of people, it's going to take nine months or more to lose it. So we just have to be patient.”
3. Prioritise your health over your appearance
“Accept that your body is not going to be the same. Your focus should be on your health and fitness, not on your body, because [it will be] good for you, the baby and your relationship.”
4. Appreciate your new body and what it has done
“Accept that [these changes] are part of the journey of motherhood, physically and emotionally. It's really important to not focus not on the negative sides of things. Instead, try to take the focus off the body and onto what it has done to produce these beautiful children.”
5. Go with the flow
“After having a baby, your life can feel a bit out of control and just when you feel you've got it in control, something changes and it's gone. Your weight is something that a lot of people think they can control and it's a way of actually keeping themselves in control. Notice if your pre-occupation with your body is something that you are doing to manage your own anxiety or to have control over something in your external world. If you suspect that it is, then look at strategies to manage your stress and reduce anxiety.”
6. Lean on your partner
“It’s so important that your partner walks this journey with you, even if they don’t entirely understand what you're going through in your own body. Having a steady, reliable partner whom you can count on for emotional and practical support is key, when you are not feeling your best. Being there for a hug, to listen, or to look after baby while you tend to your own needs, are all ways that your partner can support you in feeling better about your body and yourself.”
Hear Kinderling Conversation every weekday at 12pm or grab the podcast
Finding my style again after kids
How host Shevonne Hunt rediscovered herself and fashion after cleaning out her closet.
We need to change how we look at mothers' bodies
It's hard to accept how we look post-baby.
Hot looks! Summer style tips for mums
Cool looks and practical tips from a fashion stylist.
‘Beautiful but bloody hard’: Reflecting on my first year as a mum
A mum shares the highlights and hardships of her new life.
Why the idea of the ‘Perfect Mother’ is failing mums
Shevonne Hunt lists the unrealistic ideas of the 'perfect parent' and explains their damage.
Why is it so hard to love our bodies?
Taryn Brumfitt wants women to love their bodies, but I'm not sure it's an easy ask.
The number one thing parents miss about life pre-kids - spontaneity
Has parenting cost you the joy of spontaneity?
When being tired signals health issues beyond sleep deprivation
Shevonne Hunt was feeling a tired, but figured it was just part of being a parent. Turns out it was something else entirely.