I'll be the first to admit: I wasn't a very big fan of my postpartum body. It took me a long time to learn to love my body after baby, and I'm still not entirely sure I succeeded. I was in far too big a rush to lose the baby weight, hoping that I could fit into that one pre-baby pair of pants or wear that one pre-baby shirt with confidence, instead of fear.
And it's a shame, really, that I fell into those crappy ingrained ways of thinking, because looking back, there are actually parts of my postpartum body that I definitely miss. I didn't take the time to really sit in that post-baby glow and appreciate my body, all the marvelous ways it changed and all of the fantastic things it did (and was continuing to do). Society can be damaging to new mothers, and it really and truly does kick into overdrive during postpartum months, when our culture convinces women that they need to focus on weight loss and shrinking to a certain size and hiding the changes that their body experienced in order to grow, birth, and sustain life.
Well, enough is enough. I may have missed out on truly enjoying my postpartum body, but that doesn't mean that I can't look back and wax nostalgic about my vulnerable, raw, sore, incredibly powerful, unbelievably magical post-baby vessel. And honestly, you should too (I mean, it's fine if you can't but it's worth a try). Try and think back to your postpartum body and all the ways you could have celebrated it, but didn't. Maybe you could have worn a bikini or just refused to hide your postpartum body. Maybe you could have simply put off even the idea of weight loss and, instead, learned to love all of your soft spots and all of your perfect imperfections. Maybe you are like me, and there were a million things you could have done differently that would have been kinder to your post-baby self.
Here are eight things you didn't think you'd miss about your postpartum body, because we don't spend enough time paying tribute to the vessels that brought our babies into the world.
How Vulnerable You Are
You feel raw and exposed and fragile, even though you've just accomplished something as powerful as childbirth, and while it might seem counterintuitive, it's a magical feeling. You're in touch with your body and all the ways it has grown and stretched and contracted and brought another life into the world — and it has probably left you exhausted and defenseless. So many of us work so hard to protect ourselves from pain or hurt, but your postpartum body allows you to be completely open and real and exposed. It's a beautiful thing.
The Post-Baby Glow
That pregnancy glow is always talked about, but I think the post-baby glow takes the figurative cake. There's nothing like that "yeah, I just gave birth and it was glorious and beautiful and difficult but so worth it" look, and every woman has it, regardless of how her baby was born. From a scheduled c-section to birthing in the middle of the woods sans drugs, the look of a new mother is the look of true beauty.
The Subtle Aches That Remind You Of Your Power
There's no denying that your postpartum body will hurt, but those subtle aches also remind of you of the absolutely amazing and incredible thing you and your body just did. Whether it's a c-section incision that makes it difficult to walk, or your recovering ~lady parts~ that make it difficult to walk, the aches of motherhood can keep you connected to the pregnancy you just experienced.
All Your Soft Spots That Carried Life
Many women don't feel comfortable in their postpartum body, and that's definitely OK. It's a normal feeling because, just like pregnancy, your body is still changing and you're still trying to adapt to those changes. But the soft spots of your postpartum body — your stomach and your thighs and your breasts and maybe other places — they're a reminder of the life you carried. They're a representation of your hard work and your nurturing and your ability to create another human being. They are definitely not celebrated nearly enough and they should.
Your postpartum body will be different than your pre-baby body, and that's so awesome. You get the ability to rediscover yourself and the form you inhabit, almost transporting you back in time to when you were a kid and you didn't really understand how your extremities worked, so you tripped and were hilariously unbalanced. You get to learn about your widened hips and your new curves and you get to explore how they can benefit you. It's so much fun, you guys.
Finally Gaining Some Control Of Your Body Again
I don't know about you, but my favorite part of my postpartum body was beginning to feel like myself again. Now that a growing, kicking, and hiccuping peanut wasn't calling the shots from inside my stomach, I was finally able to start to regain control of my body and the way it functioned. Did it take some time? Of course. But did I love that process? You bet.
You Get To Focus On What Your Body Did, Not What It Looks Like
When women think of their postpartum bodies, the majority think about what they look like and not about what their bodies just did. It's sad, and indicative of a society that values women based on how they look, instead of the things they can do. But when you're in the throws of postpartum life, you're forced (or at least more aware) of just how amazing your body is, simply because it can do some incredible things. It's a great reminder that women are not to be defined by how they look.
Even Though You're Sore, You Feel Strong
Yes, you're sore and vulnerable and while those can be cathartic, they can also be a pain in the ass. However, at the same time you feel powerful and almighty. You're wonder woman incarnate! You're a life-giving goddess! You're connected to Mother Earth and the moon and starts and you can do all of things (or whatever)! It's just a juxtaposing time in a woman's life, which is why it is so magical. You're unsure but you're steady. You're scared but you're fearless. You're a representation of humanity and, well, you're the reason another person has just been added to the mix.