My Postpartum Body: Unleashed
This is me opening the metaphorical can of worms. POP!
Yep, I’m talking about the postpartum body. Now, I should mention that this is my story, and it’s up to you to have your own experience and to decide for yourself what feels good and what doesn’t. I’m not a guru in this area. I’m just a girl that had babies and has struggled to acclimate to the new me.
Am I still the same human being at heart? Yes, of course.
Did I change after babies? Yes, of course - motherhood demands a new version of me to reveal itself.
Did I instantly call my lumps and bumps “stripes” and wear them with pride? Hell no.
I want to be so straight up with you right now …
I’ve researched boob jobs, saggy skin surgery and “how to remove the wrinkles from my eyes” more times than I’m proud to admit, and I have wanted to “fix” myself ever since my girls were born.
I’ve listened to so many admirable women speak so beautifully about their bodies and the miracles that they created, and how much they honour the magic of the female body. And, whilst I agree wholeheartedly that we are pretty fucking spectacular, I have still struggled to adapt to my body. I mean, I know we are astronomically amazing, but there has been a disconnect for how that has pertained to me personally. I looked at other women and saw only strength and beauty, but when I looked at myself, I saw every imperfection, regardless of why it was there.
Before kids, I was an athlete. I trained twice per day fiercely. I had a super low body fat percentage and felt like I was in prime physical condition. My abs were hard, my bum was taut, and my legs were toned and strong. I could keep up with the men and felt like I was pioneering for all women everywhere for the strength and capabilities of the incredible female body.
And then, pregnancy, a twin pregnancy to be precise, turned it all to shit.
I was SICK. Spewing on the regular, appetite for almost everything (except lettuce and strawberries) was non existent, my energy was low, and although I still trained every second day, I was losing my fitness (where my identity was wrapped up) rapidly.
Since then, my boobs have stretched (exponentially) and sagged, my legs lost their tone despite working out 5 times per week (albeit much less intensely than before) and my tummy … well …. It’s as loose as a freaking goose. No stretch marks to speak of, but the stretchy skin has disgusted me in a way that I can’t even describe.
When the girls were 14 months and I stopped breastfeeding, it all hit me. Until that point, I knew I had a “breastfeeding body” which I was ok with (I mean, for the small-chested women of the world, I know you’ll understand my excitement at trying on some DD’s for 14 months), and then when that was over, I realised that it was time to settle into my actual body.
I tried to love it. Speak to it kindly. Touch it kindly. Nourish it with great food. Move it with love.
Nup, it didn’t work. I still looked at it with emotional dissonance. That is, I knew I should love it for everything it had done … but I just DIDN’T.
Not only was I struggling to come to terms with my physical body, there was also another big factor: my identity had been wrapped up in my body and it’s athletic abilities MY ENTIRE LIFE. Yes, my entire life. Everything I had done that was a notable achievement was a physical pursuit - sport was my life before kids, and everything that made me feel worthy was bundled so tightly within my athletic capabilities that I actually didn’t know how to be myself within this new body.
And then, I had an epiphany.
THIS HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH MY BODY, AND EVERYTHING TO DO WITH MY WORTH.
I felt like I wasn’t achieving anything. I felt like my body was useless now. I felt like I had nothing left that helped me feel like me anymore. I wasn’t pioneering for other women anymore.
So, what did I do? I got back into my heart and made a damn plan.
What did I want to achieve? Success in business.
What did I want my body to do? Dance more and move intuitively (not biomechanically)
What made me feel like me? Writing, HIIT training, date nights and meaningful work.
How could I pioneer for women? I became passionate about helping women clear their debt and become CEOs of their own wellness businesses - there is nothing more pioneering than helping women become financially autonomous and have work they love.
What helped me connect to my body? Meditation, yoga, pilates, sex, dancing.
I started doing all of these things that took me from seeing ONLY my external layer, and it sent me inward to where I truly lived. And you know the most fascinating thing? I started to love a whole lot more than my body - I started loving all of me.
It’s too simple to stand up and preach about loving what your body has achieved and then hope that it’s enough to love the way you look and feel by default - it has to go deeper than that. It has to go beyond the story that understanding what you’ve created (humans) is enough to live on forever.
And so, ask yourself the questions I mentioned above and get back in your heart and make choices and decisions from there. Your worth doesn’t come from the size of your jeans or how quickly you closed the gap between your abs after babies. NO. It comes from your ability to attune to what brings you joy and worth and a sense of self.
And, when all else fails, and I’m just having an asshole of a day and I’m looking at my body with disgust again (it happens - I can sometimes have a relapse), I ask myself this:
Would I ever want my daughters to look at themselves like they weren’t enough because of the skin on their stomach?
What would I tell them if they felt like me right now?
I would tell them that all I see is beauty. That their physical appearance is but one element of beauty, and I’m interested in all the rest. Their hearts, their minds, and their souls matter to me more than stretchy skin or saggy boobs ever will. And that they are here for more than concerning themselves with the landmarks left by their creations. Go achieve your goals, feel deep love, connect with your body through movement that feels good, pioneer for causes that matter, and watch your relationship to yourself soar.
To every woman not loving her body right now, whether postpartum or otherwise, I see you. And, I hope you know that your identity and your legacy is not wrapped up in your physical appearance.
Turn on the bath, add some bergamot (the oil of self acceptance), plug in your earphones and listen to this beautiful meditation by Sarah Blondin. This meditation saves me time and time again.
All my love,