Just three months ago, I gave birth to our sixth child — a handsome little boy. I remember looking at him for the first time and thinking about how perfect he was — his tiny fingers and toes; his cute ears and flawless skin.
But as I took a look in the mirror for the first time, the reflection I saw was far less than perfect. The feelings of discouragement and self-doubt crept in. Would I ever be the same again?
As women, the post-baby body is often a difficult thing to cope with. We want everything to be back to the way it was, and often get depressed and discouraged. We get impatient, while at the same time not doing much about it because we just don't know where to start.
So, where do you start?
A good place to start is to love your body for what it just did and what it is capable of, rather than despising it for how it now looks. Some women may be able to return to their post-pregnancy state, while many do not. Regardless, loving your body and taking steps toward the healthiest you is what is important.
If weight loss is your goal, a great and simple way comes in the form of something your body does naturally: nursing. While nursing may or may not help you lose weight, you are expelling calories. Nursing also causes your uterus to contract, helping rid your body of many of the things that are causing that gushy feeling in your stomach.
For the first little while after birth, there is a time when your body is repairing, and you may not be able to exercise much. Take this time to focus on healthy eating. Not only will this help you, it will also help your baby. If you are eating unhealthily, there are only so many nutrients that can be given to your baby. The more nutritious food you feed your own body, the more nutrients there will be for your baby.
Once you are able to begin an exercise regimen — and this varies for many — make sure to listen to your body. How much you exercised before and during pregnancy will likely determine how early you can start and how much your body can handle. You know your body. Be honest with yourself regarding your limitations. At the same time, give a little more when you know you can.
Don't get discouraged. You spent nine months putting on weight; it won't come off weeks or even months after. Always look forward with your goal, and be happy with even the smallest accomplishments.
Don't compare yourself to others. Every body is different, and just because your neighbor was back in her jeans days after doesn't mean this is the norm. In fact, it's not. Embrace your own personal triumphs, and love the progress you are making.
Lastly, don't avoid the mirror. As much as the first gaze at your reflection after having your baby may have been discouraging, those “flaws” are proof that you did something great. The little marks here and tucks there are wonderful evidence of how remarkable a woman's body truly is.
Arianne Brown is a SUU graduate, mother to six young kids and an avid runner.You can like her Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/WriterArianneBrown), go to her blog at timetofititin.com or follow her on Twitter @arimom5.