I had mentioned to my Mom, very soon after I had my daughter, about how awful I felt about myself and my body. My negative headspace was crippling. Now let me firstly say, I love my mother but her answer wasn’t helpful; “Well think about all the positive ways the baby has changed you ”. I just could not! Is this because we live in a social media society where everyone is Instagram perfect and due to crazy algorithms all you see on your feed are perfect, post baby bounce back bodies? I don’t know, but whatever the reason I, like many other new mothers, was feeling terrible about myself and how I looked.
Like many moms suffering in silence when it comes to finding confidence or that ‘post baby mojo’, I found I needed to stop comparing myself to the fancy folk and start giving myself some proper high-five encouragement. Your body just grew a baby and don’t forget that new organ too: the placenta. The body did so much shifting within, changing, and accommodating that new life. Let’s also not forget the now factor, your body is now tasked with feeding, healing from the birth, holding your child, caring for your child, and doing this on very little sleep. Where in this do we appreciate ourselves? Like all Moms, I love my child. But, I just felt so unbelievably uncomfortable, so incredibly tired, that I couldn’t appreciate my own body.
I forgot, and perhaps you have too, that our bodies are sensational. So this is my first suggestion if you need a little help regaining your confidence; take a long luxuriously glorious shower, grab a strong cuppa and get ready for a good slap of reality. While sipping that strong cuppa, I asked myself; what are the one, two or even three things that I am grateful for that my body does on a daily basis? It was a great place to start for me and I’d really recommend you give it a try.
Once you start to acknowledge the power of your body then can you go deeper. Here are my five top tips I have found helped me along my Mom journey that I hope can help you shake off those post-baby body blues and build back your body-confidence:
- Body Positivity sounds so easy to attain but it isn’t always the case. I for one had a very difficult time postpartum.To be frank, I still do. I accept that I am a work in progress. I come from a Broadway performance background so at a very, very young age, the strive for body image perfection was ingrained in our dancer brain. I’m a smart gal and I knew approaching postpartum with that “dancer brain” was not going to be beneficial to me nor my daughter. I wasn’t trying to get the next big Broadway show now, I was now striving to constantly bring health and happiness to my daughter and I needed that ‘self worth’ happiness for ME too. I knew I needed some sort of common ground. From my years as a fitness trainer I knew I needed to teach myself ‘self love’ as I was always preaching this to my clients. It was time for me to have a huge spoonful of my own medicine. Start with finding body neutrality. How on gods green earth can you go from hating your body to loving it overnight. It is certainly not a light switch. Find a middle ground first. Try finding acceptance in that your body is different, neither good nor bad, simply different. How to find acceptance? Little steps each day like an extra walk, a 10 minute stretch in the middle of the day, head to YouTube for free quick workouts. I even share them on my Bizzimumzi YouTube channel. A lot of Moms do not have the luxury to spend two hours a day with a trainer. Grab quick and efficient 10-20 minute workouts that you can simply do with the little ones around. I’m all for exercising with the kids around because if they are still napping, so should you. Rest is just as important as the workout. My daughter is 2.5 years old and I am still a work in progress. My progress and your progress should never be measured by a social media square. Let that set in.
- Hone in on the times when you are overwhelmed with negative body thoughts. What are you doing? Where are you? How has your day been? Were you offered help and you said no… now you are overwhelmed? These are key factors to acknowledge where the extra noise is coming from. Are you dwelling on mirrors around the house? Hide the mirrors! That may sound extreme but more often than not when a mirror is placed in front of us, all the extra negative noise can easily creep in. Write this down, share with your partner, share with your therapist. These are triggers that need to be acknowledged and then worked through so that body positivity and self worth can shine through. It can be hard at first to speak up but your mental health needs to be top priority, not only for you but to sustain a healthy environment for your child. Working to eliminate the negative headspace will only enhance all the aspects in your daily life.
- I did not get my pre-baby clothes out until after 6 months. Try to stop and refrain. There is no award for a quick bounce back. Trust when I say your next door neighbour does not care about the number inside your jeans. Why is there so much shame in our culture if you are not bounce back ready in 4 weeks postpartum? Wear clothes that compliment and feel good on your body. We need to be in the mindset now of healing and honouring our bodies. The only person that knows the size of your clothing is You. Yes, shocking but so true! I have trained countless postpartum Moms. There is a frantic energy I always feel when a new Mom starts back training. You don’t need to feel this way. It’s added stress. Stress can be a huge culprit for actually gaining weight postpartum. The stress hormone cortisol has a lot to answer for when it comes to weight gain. Cortisol stimulates fat and carbohydrate metabolism for fast energy. It also stimulates insulin release and maintenance of blood sugar levels. If you are stressed, high levels of cortisol can cause an increase in appetite and cravings for sweet, high-fat and salty foods. I know, easier said than done, but find and relish in the moments of calm. Maybe there is a moment in your day where you can sit, close your eyes and find that deep belly breath. 5 minutes, 10 minutes… it all adds up and is very beneficial for your mind and overall body.
- Ditch the Scale! Come on, do it! Another number no one really wants to know. I mean, has anyone ever asked you for your weight? Again, your neighbour is not asking. In full transparency I have no clue how much weight I put on when I was expecting and I do not own a scale in my house. The thought alone gives me anxiety so why would I allow it. Even when I was pregnant, I turned around on the scale when they weighed me. I also, politely, asked the nurse to never tell me my weight. I said if I was gaining too much that was affecting my health obviously tell me but otherwise do not let me know. The number on the scale does not define you. Self love and self worth acceptance surely does and has greater meaning.
- Fuel your body. Give yourself permission to eat what makes you happy and fulfilled. Restrictions can quickly flip the narrative and can prove negative thoughts and unhealthy relationships with food. Don’t skip meals. You need the fuel for not only your body but more importantly your mind. As Moms we desperately work hard to make the perfect daily routine for our child. This way they thrive each week hitting new milestones and adorable development. What about your routine? What about your eating routine? Sticking to routine mealtime and portions can help keep you on a great path. Healthy protein, high fibre foods, and nutritionally dense fruits and vegetables will not only keep you energised throughout the day but will also provide the key nutrients needed postpartum.
At the end of the day you, me… We are all on our own journey. What we should all feel as Mom’s postpartum is the undeniable sense of power and complete awe of our bodies capabilities, however, that isn’t always the case. That is ok! How we strive to get there will be different for each individual. I only hope some of my tips can help encourage and inspire you to get there. You are in a new stage, a new body. Allow it time, allow it grace and most importantly allow it acceptance as that will exude body and most importantly, Self Confidence.
Ashley is a mom, founder of the Bizzimumzi podcast, and founder of Define London fitness studio. She is a former Broadway performer, celebrity trainer and located in the heart of central London. Ashley’s goal is to use her voice and platform to create a welcoming community to share the highs and lows of parenting, and inspire others to feel empowered in their journey. As a self-proclaimed coffee infused mom and business owner, she has an infectious smile and warm demeanor as she spreads love and a sense of belonging to all that meet her. Subscribe and listen to the BizziMumzi Podcast to learn more!