In many mama social media groups I’m a part of, I continually see messages where women are struggling to lose the baby weight. They’re saying things like, “I feel disgusting” and, “I’m so depressed, I can’t lose this weight after so long,” or even, “I’m afraid I’m going to be ginormous by the third trimester.”
In our culture of comparison, where it’s easy to find images of women in bikinis within a couple of weeks of giving birth, how can we thrive and feel good within ourselves? How can we alleviate this pressure to look and be perfect—especially as a mama? And is it possible to achieve your ideal body now that you’ve given birth?
Yes, I believe it is.
It starts with understanding that our babies develop their core belief systems between birth and age 6. Science has shown how impactful a mama’s thoughts can be while a baby is still in utero (check out Annie Murphy-Paul’s TED Talk, “What We Learn Before We’re Born”).
In fact, think back to something your own mother or father said or did when you were young that has stayed with you throughout your adult life. Are you carrying around a belief that wasn’t yours to begin with, maybe even one you’ve had to work hard to change? How would you like to set up your own little human for success?
Our inner voices, especially when we’re very critical of ourselves, can seep into our outside actions and dialogue, and these subtle and overt energies are how our children perceive the truth about life. Eventually, what we say becomes their own inner voices.
In Clarissa Pinkola Estes’s book, Women Who Run With Wolves, she beautifully demonstrates that to support one—and only one—kind of beauty is an offense to nature, because there is not one type of songbird, one kind of pine tree, one kind of wolf. There cannot be one kind of baby, one kind of man, or one kind of woman. To be thought of as unattractive or unacceptable because your body is outside what’s currently fashionable is deeply wounding to our natural joys.
As a smart woman, you’ve likely done all the research on the best diets, workout routines, and solutions to lose weight. Maybe you count calories all the time or have years of your life you weren’t present for because you were obsessed with your appearance, which is how it was for me. Mamas keep sharing with me that they’re afraid they’re failing and they’re feeling depressed they’re not getting the results they want.
It’s time to ask how effective these approaches actually are if it means we’re constantly feeling worried we can’t keep it all together?
What if you tried the opposite of what you would normally do? To get the results you want, sometimes you need to do something that’s absolutely counterintuitive. So what if you tried approaching your body by being carefree rather than constricting?
Try focusing on the joys in your life, the ways in which you shine the brightest, the aspects that bring you the greatest contentment. By focusing on these positive attributes and practicing gratitude for all that’s working well, you’re telling the universe, “Yes, please, I’d like more of this goodness.” Ultimately, you invite more of your unique brand of happy, and in the end you can begin to thrive like never before in both your life and your body.
Remember, there is no “supposed to be” in bodies. Rather than tamp down a woman’s natural ability to thrive with creative expression and power by trying to all be one size, let’s focus on how we are all elemental and special.
As a mama, you know how primal nature can be. You’re experiencing this new unconditional love where your heart is growing bigger every day, even amidst the challenges and struggles that the postpartum phase can bring. It’s time to shine some of that wild love on yourself, to ensure that you thrive as much as you’re working on the same for your little one.