So you’ve had a baby. Fabulous! But I have one question for you: When are you going to appear on the cover of a tabloid in a bikini talking about how you lost all the weight through breastfeeding and postnatal yoga? Because these are the things that are important now. After you have a baby, your priorities necessarily shift, and what could possibly be more important after such a monumental life change than getting your body to look as though it didn’t change at all?
We are living in a completely toxic atmosphere in which to be pregnant and give birth. Over the course of pregnancy, your body goes through so many completely bizarre changes that you couldn’t have expected. You barely have time to process one thing before something else pops up. Then you actually give birth and all of a sudden your huge pregnant belly is, like, gone… but it’s not really gone gone. You still look pretty pregnant, and no one prepared you for that, so you’re like, “Oh my god! Is this real life? Is this going to be forever?!”
Well, no, it’s probably not going to be forever, and before too long, your body will at least vaguely start to resemble its previous form (although what would be even more rad is if we could all accept that bodies are ever-changing and instead of placing priority on getting our bodies to look like they did before we were pregnant, we expected and embraced the fact that, like so many other things in life moving us ever-more-forward, they won’t ever be the same and that’s awesome, but hey, we all do what we can) but that won’t stop you from feeling the pressure to speed that process up to conform to social expectations about how you, a woman, should look.
Over the next few weeks, months, and even years, your body will shift and change even more as a result of childbirth and having been pregnant. Amid all these changes (not to mention having a new kid) it can be difficult to adequately address how you feel about your changed and changing body and, not surprisingly, it leaves a lot of women feeling deeply uncomfortable. This is a shame, because there’s so much to truly love about your body after you’ve had a baby. Let’s have a rundown of those many things, shall we?
You Have To Marvel At What Your Body Has Done
Yo. You took tiny strands of DNA and worked your uterine magic to transform some nucleotides into a sentient creature. You grew a person. You’re basically a god now. And then — and then — you either pushed it out of what is normally a 3-centimeter orifice using only your muscles, like a damn queen, or you were cut open, had a wailing child rendered from your body,and lived to tell the tale (and chances are you were even awake during the whole thing). Either way, you are a badass now.
Everything Goes (More Or Less) Back To Normal
Moms love to go on with their stories about the many ways their bodies changed after they had babies: “Your boobs sag,” or, “Your stomach will always be flabby and stretch-marked,” or, “You’ll never sneeze without peeing yourself a little.” (This is called a “sniss” in my circle, and like the other things on this list, it is common and normal, but doesn’t always happen. After two kids, it has never once happened to me. Not a humblebrag, just a fact, do with it what you will). OK, yes, your body goes through changes after you pop out a kid (because you popped out an effin’ kid) but think about it this way: After launching a fully formed human into the world; after your uterus expands waaaaaaaaaay beyond normal capacity; after this absolutely absurd and miraculous feat of nature; you’re still you at the end. The uterus shrinks back to its pre-pregnancy size. That organ you grew for the duration of your pregnancy? The placenta? Gone without a trace. (Unless you eat it.) The extra blood you were producing, the weird, wobbly ligaments, everything your body did to sustain you and your baby during your pregnancy — those mechanisms clear out and the old crew comes back in and picks up where they left off (more or less). How cool is that?! Insanely cool, that’s how cool.
You Get Stronger, Literally
You are going to be carrying around that new baby a lot. Like, way more than you may think you will. And it doesn’t matter how tiny that baby is. Even if something is only five pounds, when that thing is toted around everywhere, it gets heavy after a while. But you know what? Go, mama! Go on with your super strong, baby-wielding arms. Take pride in the awesome power of your biceps, triceps, and… is there another kind of -cep in the arm? Whatever. Point is, you possess new and awesome arm strength. Behold, your enemies cower before you. You shall be able to vanquish them with one hand tied behind your back. Speaking of which…
You Can Do Absolutely Everything One-Handed
That baby you’re constantly carrying in your big strong arms? He’s basically like a little Yoda on your back training you in the ways of the Mom Force. One of the most important Mom Force skills you can possess is the ability to do anything one-handed. From cooking meals to getting ready for work (including applying a full face of makeup), from firing off a bunch of emails to giving your cat a bath*, you’re basically a multitasking master of dexterity now.
*Please do not actually try to bathe your cat while holding your baby. In fact, avoid bathing your cat if at all possible. It never goes well.
Your Body Is A Crucial Source Of Comfort To Your Child
Issues with one’s body image are usually pretty weird and complicated under normal circumstances. Add to that the creepy concepts we have of female attractiveness, beauty, and sexuality after women become mothers and it becomes even more so. But every now and then, since my children were born, I have seen myself through their eyes, and it sounds corny and maybe it even sounds delusional, but I’m the most bounteous, nurturing, beautiful woman that ever lived. Whether it’s the smiling look my daughter sometimes gets when she’s breastfeeding, or my son absentmindedly stroking my belly while we watch a movie, or feeling them relax completely in one of my hugs, this body is still doing some pretty amazing work in the growth and development of these little creatures.
Images: whosjo_mama/Instagram; Giphy(5)