Courtesy Marie Southard Ospina

My Postpartum Body Resolution Isn't "Lose Weight" — It's Something Harder & Better Than That

Ad failed to load

The first month of the year is often a difficult time for me. Like many people, I reign in the New Year with resolutions and aspirations. Far too often, I also set unrealistic goals for myself — things like "become a professional burlesque dancer" or "save enough money to tour New Zealand for three months." By mid-January, it's typically become clear that I should've just resolved to floss.

In 2017, 'exercise more' and 'lose weight' were the most popular New Year's resolutions made in Britain, where I live.

Dreams of dancing and international travel aside, I have also dedicated many New Year's resolutions to changing my body. For years, losing weight was just about the only "achievement" I wanted to pursue. It's not especially surprising, considering that in 2017 "exercise more" and "lose weight" were the most popular New Year's resolutions made in Britain, where I live, according to market research company ComRes.

Ad failed to load

As the mother of a 1-year-old, I know what my 2018 resolution was supposed to be. Now that my daughter is slightly more self-sufficient and partially weaned off breastmilk, I should have more time to hit the gym. I should invest my cash in cellulite and stretch mark treatments. I should do whatever exercises I can to re-lift my boobies — and if that doesn't work, I should save some dollars for plastic surgery that'll do it for me. I should shrink.

Thanks to years of immersion in feminist, body-positive activism, I haven't necessarily struggled to feel attractive or worthy of self-respect.

Postpartum body- and fitness-related advice is pervasive. Listicles on "the best weight loss advice for new moms" are everywhere, and most of the first-time mothers I've known have gone on a weight-loss plan practically as soon as the babies were out of their bodies. While I understand the pressure, my new-mom resolution wasn't to lose weight. I'm aspiring to something a little different: Something that doesn't involve altering my body, but appreciating what the changes it's been through actually mean.

Ad failed to load
Courtesy Marie Southard Ospina

Let me first admit that I'd be lying if I said I haven't struggled to exist in my postpartum figure since giving birth. Thanks to years of immersion in feminist, body-positive activism, I haven't necessarily struggled to feel attractive or worthy of self-respect. Rather, it's just taken some time for me to feel "at home" in my new self.

There's a disconnect between the body and the person that I believe can arrive from endless lack of sleep and physical exhaustion. It's true that my face looks more tired than ever before, my belly is covered in stretch marks that I didn't used to have, and the feeling that I'm getting older permeates my bones in the form of myriad aches and pains. I know that none of these developments are "flaws," though. I know that bodies change, grow, and scar with the marks of a life being lived — and that's actually a really cool thing.

Ad failed to load
I begin to feel as if the changes in my body that have resulted from carrying a child, and having that child, are directly responsible for any hardships I encounter as a new parent.

The disconnect, on the other hand, has led to much self-criticism and self-doubt. I think of the tiredness and lack of drive I so often experience these days, and I all too often blame myself. I begin to feel as though my body is failing me. I then begin to feel as if the changes in my body that have resulted from carrying a child, and having that child, are directly responsible for any hardships I encounter as a new parent.

Courtesy Marie Southard Ospina
Ad failed to load
The truth is, I believe mothers are goddamn superheroes.

Once in a while, however, I experience brief moments of clarity. When my stress migraines stop, when my daughter sleeps for at least four consecutive hours, or when I manage to have some me-time, I remember what all of the changes in my body (both internal and external) actually signify.

The truth is, I believe mothers are goddamn superheroes. It isn't just the fact that pregnancy is jam-packed with back aches, vomiting, severe headaches, and insomnia, or that childbirth is one of the most painful things a human being can experience (although props to all mothers for getting through that hell). It's that raising a child from the ground up is hard f*cking work.

Ad failed to load

When compared to other primates, human newborns are the most helpless at birth. Our brains are underdeveloped in order for our heads to fit through the narrow passageway that is the birth canal. When babies are born, they cannot do anything for themselves. They can't feed themselves. They can barely move. They certainly cannot speak or understand verbal communication. We literally have to teach them everything — and do every single minute thing for them until they are cognitive and capable.

It's a full-time job — and as with any full time job that wears one out, it's bound to have repercussions. The bags under my eyes, the coarseness of my skin (which is rarely moisturized or nourished), and the belly that wobbles more than ever before because I haven't had the time nor desire to "repair" my pregnancy body, are all simply signs of the monumental task I've taken on.

Ad failed to load

They are also signs of the monumental gift I've been given. I would never pretend that motherhood is blissful; that I don't often find myself missing the person I was — or lifestyle I led — before an 18-pound mini-me followed me around everywhere. Despite my infinite grievances, however, I wouldn't change a single thing.

Seeing this little human grow from scratch has been the most fulfilling job of my life. Carrying her, delivering her, and watching as her personality has developed has brought me joy, pleasure, and a sense of absolute wonderment.

When I put aside all temporary frustrations, pains, and exhaustions, and allow myself to be consumed by those feelings instead (which can admittedly be hard AF to do when I'm going on two hours of sleep in four days), I cannot help but feel similar wonderment towards my body. I cannot help but resolve to treat it with empathy, with kindness, and with enormous respect. It isn't something I need to shrink in order to celebrate. It's already worthy of praise and care, and I'm resolving to treat it as such moving forward.

Ad failed to load

Check out Romper's new video series, Romper's Doula Diaries:

Watch full episodes of Romper's Doula Diaries on Facebook Watch.

Ad failed to load
Must Reads

The Reason Why Babies Smile At You Will Seriously Make You Smile

Whether you're currently the recipient of your own baby's sweet smiles or you just seem to be a magnet for baby grins in general, you might find yourself wondering why babies are always smiling at you. Sure, you could be a 'smile whisperer' but scien…
By Kate Miller

8 Ways Your Baby Is Trying To Say That, Yes, You Are Their Favorite

For a baby to show a preference for a specific person is not only normal, but an essential part of their development. Babies need to form strong attachments to their caregivers for their emotional, social, and physical wellbeing. Usually, but not alw…
By Kimmie Fink

10 Reasons Why I Won't Apologize For Giving My Toddler A Pacifier

My first child had no interest in a pacifier. I tried a couple times to get him to take one, but he always spat them out and gave me an incredulous, judgmental look. But my second? It was love at first suckle. And after a while, the incredulous, judg…
By Jamie Kenney

Being A Dog Parent Prepared Me For Having A Baby, Really

I’ve always wanted kids; I was never as sure about raising a puppy. Then I spent six months living with someone who brought home an eight-week-old golden retriever puppy, and I see no way to make it out of that experience claiming not to love dogs. I…
By Heather Caplan

20 Of The Most Popular Unisex Names Of All Time, That You'll Be Hearing More Of For Sure

You might think of unisex names as a fairly recent trend, but the truth is these versatile monikers have been commonly used throughout history (well, some more commonly than others). That's why the team over at Names.org recently compiled a list of t…
By Jacqueline Burt Cote

How To Have A Date Night With No Babysitter, Because It's Easier Than You Think

After having children, many couples feel that their love lives immediately go out the window, but it's so important to make your romantic life a priority so both you and your partner can be the best versions of yourselves you can be. As we all know, …
By Abi Berwager Schreier

9 Ways Baby No. 3 Made My Family Feel Complete

My husband and I decided to have another baby right after we got married and, well, we had no idea what we were getting into. I got pregnant right away, endured a high-risk pregnancy, and, before I knew it, my third baby had arrived. Together, we emb…
By Steph Montgomery

8 Stereotypes About New Dads That Are *Totally* True

Much like new mothers, new fathers have a lot on their plate. Parenting can be scary and complex, especially at first and regardless of your gender. People want to do right by their kids, after all. And since all new parents are a hot mess, dads are …
By Priscilla Blossom

8 Differences Between Being Pregnant In Your 20s Vs 30s, According To Science

Whether you're planning a pregnancy, or just thinking about your future family, it's typical to think about things like child-spacing, how many kids you want, and when to start trying to conceive. When making your pro/con list, you might also conside…
By Steph Montgomery

16 Moms Share Remedies For Their Most Intense Chocolate Cravings During Pregnancy

For better or worse, pregnancy is usually synonymous with odd cravings. Sure, there are the stereotypical combos like pickles and ice cream that plague gestating women the world over, but there are other mind-boggling combinations, too, including but…
By Candace Ganger

Putting Sunscreen On Your Kid Doesn't Have To Be A Fight — Here's How To Do It

I am almost translucent, so me and sunscreen are basically besties at this point. Even though my children are beautifully deep brown thanks to my husband's genetics, I still slather them like biscuits being buttered because I refuse to take risks wit…
By Cat Bowen

7 Things A Mom Really Means When She Says She Doesn't Want Anything On Mother's Day

Every year my family asks me what I want for Mother's Day, and every single year I tell them the same thing: Nothing. So, by now, they know that when I say "nothing" I absolutely do not mean "nothing." In fact, there are more than a few things a mom …
By Candace Ganger

19 Moms Share The Way They Cured Their Pregnancy Comfort Food Cravings

I was obnoxiously sick during the first trimester with, "lucky" for me, both of my pregnancies. For the first three months I lived on saltines, lemonade, and fresh bread. Once I was able to eat, however, all I wanted was savory and sweet comfort food…
By Dina Leygerman

8 Fascinating Facts About Babies Born In May, The Luckiest Month Of All

The height of all things fresh and springy, May is an excellent month to have a baby. It's a time of growth, graduations, and outdoor celebrations. And these fascinating facts about May babies will give you more reasons than ever to appreciate childr…
By Lindsay E. Mack

I Used To Judge Formula-Feeding Moms — Until I Became One

The other patrons in the hip Brooklyn restaurant probably couldn’t care less what I was feeding my baby, but I’ll always remember the shame I felt as I quickly mixed up his bottle of formula in front of them. I admitted to my childless friend that I …
By Katherine Martinelli

7 White Lies It’s Necessary To Tell To Keep Your Relationship Healthy

Telling lots of lies typically isn't associated with a healthy, strong, lasting relationship, and that's still certainly true, but not all lies are exactly the same. Though you've probably heard from someone at least once or twice that the lie they t…
By Lauren Schumacker

The Skinny Jeans That Saved Me Postpartum

Accepting my post-pregnancy body is hands-down one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done. It’s something that I still work on every single day. During my first pregnancy, I was 20 years old, so I managed to bounce back quickly. In fact, I dropp…
By Allison Cooper

7 Ways Your Baby Is Trying To Say They Feel Safe

In those first weeks of new motherhood, it can feel like you need an interpreter for your newborn. With their limited means of communication, figuring out what message your baby is trying to get across to you can be a challenge. With time, however, y…
By Kimmie Fink

Here's Why Dogs Are Obsessed With Babies' Poop, According To Science

Most family dogs seem to understand babies, and they're more than happy to make friends with the newest member of the pack. It's adorable... for the most part and until you go to change your little one's diaper. Suddenly, you're wondering why dogs ar…
By Lindsay E. Mack

6 Signs You're Meant To Have A Big Age Gap Between Kids

There's a five year age difference between my two children, to the day. Their age gap wasn't planned but, for a variety of reasons, works well for our family. And since I was so focused on having a second baby, I totally overlooked the signs that wou…
By Candace Ganger

My Dog Knew I Was Pregnant Before My Family Did

Growing up, I was 100 percent sure I'd be a mom one day. To a dog, that is. My baby plans came later. And once my husband and I were sure we wanted both a dog and a baby, we'd add to our joint dog-and-baby name list over Sunday brunch or on date nigh…
By Melissa Mills
)}