You never really know how your body will adjust to the end of your pregnancy and the beginning of postpartum life. You know your body is supposed to stretch and grow when you're pregnant, but the lasting results of those physical changes aren't obvious until that baby leaves your body. Case and point? Your stomach. Because of how drastic your stomach changes, from pre-pregnancy to pregnancy to post-birth, there are things every grown-ass man says about his partner's postpartum belly that will make every new mom feel at least somewhat more comfortable in her new post-baby body.
To be completely honest, my body never "snapped" back to what it was or looked like before I had kids. Like, not even a little bit. I've never been incredibly fit-looking, and have struggled with weight and eating disorders throughout my entire life, but pregnancy really and truly did me in. The biggest changes I noticed were in my hip and thigh area, and, of course, my belly. I wasn't blessed with great genetics, either, and my pregnant and postpartum body made me realize that no matter what kind of beauty or "slimming" products are marketed to expecting and new moms, so much of how our bodies react to motherhood is entirely beyond our control.
That permanent "pooch" left over from baby growing is something I spend a lot of time feeling insecure about, because no amount of exercise or nutrition has eliminated what's left of my postpartum stomach. As a result of my internalized feelings about my "mom bod," and the unrealistic beauty expectations our culture has for women, it's important my grown-ass man keeps his comments about my stomach to a minimum. And if he chooses to speak out about my belly, his words should absolutely resemble the following:
"I Love It"
There shouldn't be any other preface when your partner is talking about your postpartum stomach, other than how much your partner loves it. No comments comparing what it was before, or how much love there is in spite of going through pregnancy and delivery. Just "I love it." That's it. Keep it simple and honest.
My partner still tells me that he loves my post-baby stomach, two kids and 10 years later. Why? Well, because he's a grown-ass man who gets it.
"It Did An Amazing Thing"
Your body went on a journey with your pregnancy. Of course your stomach is amazing and regardless of what it looks like. Your partner should reflect on everything you and your body went through, and tell you how incredible you and your stomach are for the countless sacrifices made over the last 40 (more or less) weeks.
Anything less than total admiration isn't good enough.
"You're Too Hard On Yourself"
I know I'm way too hard on myself, especially when it comes to my appearance, and I have a feeling most postpartum women can say the same. I wish I didn't worry about how my stomach looks every time I put on clothes, and I wish I felt more confident and self-assured. I wish I could look at myself in the mirror and remember why I look the way I do: because I grew and birthed actual human beings. But sometimes it's hard to gain some perspective and see the forest through the trees of unrealistic beauty expectations, so I need a reminder or two or 10.
A grown-ass man tells his partner to take it easy on herself, to practice self-care, and to learn to appreciate the postpartum body that brought children into the world.
"Let Me Admire You"
Every now and then I still catch my partner staring at me. He often thinks about and remembers everything we've gone through, as a couple and as parents, and I can tell he's thankful to have me standing beside him through it all.
Every grown-ass man should look at the woman who gave him children with awe. He should be telling her how thankful he is for her and her postpartum belly. A lot of women feel insecure after giving birth and, as a result, think their partners aren't attracted to them anymore. My partner made sure I knew otherwise.
"You Look Fantastic"
That's it. Period. Every partner who's feeling self-conscious about her postpartum belly just needs confirmation that she still looks good. Maybe I didn't always feel attractive, but when my partner said I looked great, I got a little boost of self-esteem.
Don't let your partner wallow in her insecurities. Tell her how damn good she looks.
"What Can I Do To Make You Feel Confident?"
Sometimes partners don't know exactly what to say about their partner's body, especially after it has endured significant physical changes. I'm sure my grown-ass man felt fearful in mentioning or drawing attention to a part of my body I didn't feel awesome about.
When you ask what you can do and say to make your partner feel more confident, you're showing your partner you care, even if you're not sure how you can support her fully.
If you haven't thanked your partner and her glorious belly for providing a safe haven for baby yet, you better get to it. It doesn't matter if it's been two hours, or two years, since she's given birth: say something. If she's not feeling herself the way she had before children, at the very least you can tell her all the reasons your life wouldn't be the same without her.
My partner made sure I never went a day without knowing he loved me, and my body, before, during, and after pregnancy. Guys, I'm here to tell you: a little appreciation goes a long way. So say thank you.
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