Throughout pregnancy, your body goes through a myriad of changes including hormonal changes and weight gain. Your appetite shifts, while eating habits and energy levels fluctuate as your baby grows inside of you. You may have increased focus on these changes if you have ever dealt with body image issues which, if we are being honest, is probably 90% of us. You are growing a human and that takes a lot of work-physically, emotionally and spiritually. Preparation to become pregnant may have been months or even years, and then it all changes in a flash, or maybe 24 hours of labor later, when you are handed your beautiful new bundle of joy. Your life changes in an instant.
Giving birth does not mean that your hormone levels, weight, and energy will suddenly jump back to that of pre-pregnancy. There is most definitely an adjustment period; adjustment to being a new parent, changes within your relationships, mood and emotional dysregulation, and physical changes. You may not recognize your body post-pregnancy, which is to be completely expected. There may be feelings of frustration, overwhelm, and even anger. Put these feelings together with a whole lot of exhaustion sprinkled on top, and you may end up missing so many many precious moments. Your mind and body will need time to recalibrate so to function at its most optimal level. These changes take time and patience.
So, here are some tips to mindfully reconnect with your body post pregnancy:
1. Be kind to your body- Find acceptance in your body's present, post birth, state. Remember how powerful your body is and the miraculous miracle you just gave birth too. Yes, your body did that! Identify and share kind and positive messages with yourself instead of self loathing ones. You will get to where you want to be, but you first need to be right where you are now, in this moment. Take mindful moments everyday, especially when you notice you are being unkind or too hard on yourself. I know it sounds easier than done, but even if that is the case you have to start somewhere, and there is no better time than the present moment.
2. Allow yourself to be touched- Now I know the last thing you may want is to be touched, especially when you are so exhausted and may not feel like your most beautiful self. And if you are breastfeeding, then your breasts are raw and tender to the touch. But, allow yourself to be touched by someone other than your baby; be it yourself, a partner or friend. Even just mindfully applying lotion onto your body or allowing your partner to massage your hands or feet will help you connect physically and shows gratitude to your body.
3. Stay hydrated and eat real food- Caffeine and sugar may feel like the only things keeping you vertical as you adjust to your new “normal,” but as we all know, this "diet" is not sustainable if you are looking to feel better for any length of time. Adding water and staying hydrated will help you to overall rejuvenate. Listen to your hunger and fullness cues as a way to nurture yourself. While you may be eating more than you were pre-pregnancy, your body may be telling you that is what it needs.
4. Move everyday and breathe in some fresh air- Take time each day to stretch, participate in an exercise class, or go for a walk with your baby. You can even do lunges using your baby as added weight, mommy and me. Start where you are at and listen to your body. Even stretching your arms, neck and legs while sitting in a chair will increase circulation. The endorphins released through exercise will help you to adjust more smoothly and will do wonders for your mental health.
5. Shower daily- Even taking a five minute body shower will allow you to feel empowered and like a human again. Use this time to visualize any tiredness, fear and anxiety washing away as the water runs over your body.
Take a few deep breaths and envision yourself crushing the rest of the day. You got this Mama! And for an added dose of self love, schedule yourself that massage you so deserve!