Self Care and Body Positivity After Pregnancy
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Self-Care and Body Positivity After Pregnancy

By Teddyy 7 Jul 2023

“Ask any new mom who’s been there, and they’d agree that this stage – this stage with your body after childbirth – is the toughest one. Filled with self-doubt, self-criticism… and even self-hatred. Wanting to be your old-self again, feel confident again, regain some kind of control over your body and the chaos that comes with motherhood, only to feel like a saggy, powerless, inflated version of your once-fabulous self. God…,” shares Jasmine D’Souza, a teacher and mother of two from Mumbai.

While pregnancy and childbirth are marvellous periods, it can take a toll on your body in many ways. If you’re feeling defeated and unhappy in your skin after your baby’s birth, just like Jasmine, know that you’re not alone. Studies have shown that almost all women struggle with negative body image after pregnancy and childbirth – even years later.

There are so many reasons why you should love your post-pregnancy body, after all it has withstood for you. Here are some important things you can do to help yourself from spiraling down into a negative place.

Accept that the changes your body went through were necessary

It feels like such a simple thing when spelled out; but it’s one thing to know it, and another thing to accept it. There’s a laundry list of physical body changes during pregnancy and postpartum that mothers experience, and it’s important to have realistic expectations about these changes.

You gain weight, your skin stretches, some experience abdominal muscle separation (diastasis recti), your hips widen, your breasts change shape and density, your bones get bigger, your feet grow, and these are just physical things. But these are all amazing changes that are supposed to happen to make room for and grow another human being inside you.

Forget celeb moms and fix your social media feed

Researchers analysed over 600 Instagram posts with the hashtag #postpartumbody and found that only 5% of these posts focused on bodies bearing stretch marks, sagging breasts, pot belly, or scars. In contrast, over 90% of these posts portrayed slim or average-weight woman, often dressed in activewear.

Society and social media place a lot of emphasis on thinness and physical appearance – the “perfect body.” We’re constantly led to believe that women should be quickly able to lose their baby weight and fit back into their pre-pregnancy wardrobe. You’ll find no end to celeb moms fitting into their size-zero jeans immediately after giving birth. If they can do it, why can’t you? Right? Wrong! This message is unrealistic, damaging, and outright dangerous.

So often we see celeb moms and celebrate their post-pregnancy body without any thought. They have access to a team of personal trainers, nutritionists, and other resources that enable them to prioritize weight loss; and they achieve their weight goal through extreme dieting, excessive exercise, and other drastic measures aimed at quick weight loss without giving their body the required time to recover and heal properly. Do we have the same resources? No. Is the drastic weight loss healthy? No.

Comparing ourselves to the images we see on social media, and trying to live up to some unrealistic body type doesn’t motivate us, but in fact increases depression and worsens our body image. So, fix your social media feed; follow women who show the realities of childbirth.

Change your way of thinking and be nice to yourself

When you find yourself looking at yourself and your body feeling ashamed or upset, do your best to change your way of thinking. Change “I hate my stomach,” into “I really grew a human being in there, it’s OK for it to look a little different.” Take Josephine Healy for instance, she tells her daughter that her C-section scar is the “Door to your first home.” How sweet is that!? We all should take inspiration from her!

On the other hand, don’t be hard on yourself for not being able to accept the changes or for looking at yourself with disappointment and dissatisfaction; you’re not a bad mom for wanting your pre-pregnancy body back. Instead, honour and acknowledge your feelings and be nice to yourself as you work through them. Honestly, being judgemental only bogs you down and make your days bitter, so cut out any unproductive, negative self-talk.

Don’t hesitate to seek help

It’s tough being your own cheerleader all the time. Surround yourself with people who remind you of how far you’ve come, who lend an ear to your struggles, and who can relate to your struggles.

Don’t leave your partner out of the loop of things, let them know how you feel about yourself and your post-pregnancy journey. On some days it could mean literally spelling out exactly what you need, but it’s important to remember that you can’t shoulder everything alone.

Join new mom support groups to connect with others in a similar boat as you. Support groups not only offer a safe place for you to share your struggles, but also help you figure out and learn a lot of things about post-pregnancy journey by listening to other moms.

Though it may feel challenging at first to feel proud of your post-pregnancy body, keep reminding yourself of everything it has done for you, keep practicing self-love and compassion. At first, it might feel like you’re literally programming yourself to think positively, and that’s exactly it – fake it till you make it. These practices of self-love and acceptance add up, and soon you will really, truly believe in your worth and feel proud of your post-pregnancy body. See you in another blog!

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How do you deal with body dysmorphia postpartum?

Body dysmorphia postpartum is a common experience for many new moms. It’s important to acknowledge and validate your feelings while seeking support from professionals or joining new mom support groups. Practice self-compassion, remember all the incredible things your body has achieved during pregnancy and childbirth.

Why do I feel so unattractive after having a baby?

Feeling unattractive after having a baby is a common experience a lot of mothers go through. Hormonal changes, physical transformations, societal pressure, and the exhaustion of new motherhood can all contribute to these feelings. Remind yourself that these feelings are temporary and part of the adjustment period. Surround yourself with a supportive network, communicate with your partner about your insecurities, and engage in self-care activities that make you feel good about yourself.

What do new moms need for self-care?

New moms go through a lot mentally and physically during the pregnancy and childbirth period and even later, they need self-care. New moms need proper rest, nourishing meals, emotional support, and personal time. Prioritize sleep whenever possible, eat nutritious meals to fuel your body, reach out to friends and family for emotional support, and carve out moments for yourself to engage in activities that bring you joy and relaxation.

How do I pamper myself as a new mom?

Pampering yourself as a new mom can help in rejuvenation. It can be challenging to find time, but even small moments dedicated to self-indulgence can make a difference. Consider taking a warm bath with calming essential oils, reading a book or watching a favourite show, practicing mindfulness or meditation, getting a massage, or engaging in a hobby you enjoy. Remember that self-care is not selfish but necessary for your overall well-being.

How to remove stretch marks after delivery?

While it’s challenging to completely remove stretch marks, there are measures you can take to help fade their appearance. Regularly moisturizing your skin, particularly the areas with stretch marks, can improve their texture and appearance. Massaging the affected areas with gentle circular motions can also promote blood flow and potentially aid in fading the marks. Using products that contain ingredients like cocoa butter or vitamin E may provide additional benefits.

How to stay positive during pregnancy?

To stay positive during pregnancy, prioritize self-care, surround yourself with a supportive network, and maintain a positive mindset. Engage in activities that bring you joy and relaxation, such as prenatal yoga or gentle exercises. Practice mindfulness and focus on the present moment, connecting with the miracle of growing life within you. Seek emotional support from your partner, family, and friends, and consider joining prenatal support groups to connect with other expectant mothers. Remember to celebrate each milestone and embrace the journey with gratitude and optimism.

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