For Moms Who Cannot Recognize The Person In The Mirror Postpartum

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The journey of pregnancy and childbirth is a whirlwind. Almost immediately, as the child within begins to change and grow, the mother’s body follows suit. And while some women welcome a little extra oomph in the bust or a glowing complexion, most struggle watching the body they’ve always known turn into something that feels and looks foreign.

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There’s no escaping it – your body will change after pregnancy and childbirth, but that doesn’t have to be a negative thing. By honoring the work our bodies have done, while also remaining neutral about bodily changes, moms can shift their mindset from insecurity and comparison to celebration of the magnificent capabilities of the female form.

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RELATED: It’s Time Mom’s Reclaim Their Postpartum Body

Recognizing The AchievementWoman Pregnant Holding Belly

A recent study was done in which scientists examined the upper limits of a human body’s capabilities in strength and stamina. And while we certainly don’t need a study to prove that childbearing is not for the faint of heart, it’s interesting to note that pregnancy and childbirth ranked ahead of both mountain biking and marathon running. Physical therapist, Bruk Ballenger, puts this information into perspective, saying

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“Nobody asks a professional mountaineer two weeks after summiting the world’s toughest peaks (11 days at 6.6x BMR) when they are” getting their body back. ” And I bet they have the luxury of sleeping all night! “

So, the first step in adjusting to the new body that you have as a mother is recognizing where it came from and what it did to get here. You produced life. You produced a new organ (the placenta). You’ve quite literally pushed the limits of what the human body can endure. So, celebrate that! Honor the hard work that your body did by giving it space to recover and find its footing again.

Riding The Emotional Waves

Pregnancy and childbirth not only push a woman’s physical limits but also introduces a slew of challenges to mental and emotional health. Hormones are raging, and this often causes mothers to feel a wide range of quickly changing thoughts and emotions.

Once becoming aware of our own negative thoughts, our first instinct is often to stuff them down and push them away. They don’t feel good, so we want to rid ourselves of them as quickly as possible! But the best way to handle intrusive thoughts is to recognize them and let them be. Rather than becoming hostile, we become neutral.

Fitness instructor Darain Healy uses the following examples as ideas of how to reframe negative body thoughts:

  • You think: I hate that my belly looks like I’m still pregnant. Reframe: My belly looks different now than it did before I had a baby. Notice that we name and observe without judging. It’s neither positive nor negative; it’s neutral.
  • You think: The stretch marks on my hips and belly are so gross. Reframe: I’m thankful that my body was able to stretch and change to allow me to carry my baby. Here, a negative thought is reframed into a thought of gratitude and appreciation. You don’t have to pretend to love your body when you don’t, but you can practice embracing the body you have.


You’ve just gone through a massive change, both physically and mentally. Allow yourself to feel the wide range of emotions that come with that. Instead of viewing negative body thoughts as a problem to be fixed, view them as a normal part of the postpartum journey, commonly experienced by almost every woman who has gone through the process.

Listen To Your Body

When body insecurity appears, it may be tempting to restrict your diet or begin intense exercising in an effort to “bounce back.” It’s important, however, to remember that what a pregnant or postpartum body really needs is good nutrition and sensible movement. Darian Healy, explains this further, saying:

There is no badge of honor for neglecting to eat all day because you were too busy, or for getting your workout in even though you were exhausted. You don’t get a prize for putting your needs last or doing the laundry instead of taking much-needed rest.

So, listen to your body! Get in tune with your own hunger and fullness cues. Recognize if your body feels the need to move or the need to slow down. It’s easy to focus solely on caring for your child, but it’s crucial that you also prioritize self-care.

A Mindset Shift

Let’s face it: the woman you’re looking at in the mirror is not the same woman you saw nine months ago. Yes, her hips may be wider, and her stomach may be rounder. But she’s also grown in strength, perseverance, and intuition. You are so much more than a waist measurement or a scale number. You’re a life-giver and a food source; a caregiver and a playmate. You are doing the best you can each dayand that is enough.

Sources: Science Advances, Lancaster General Health, New York Times,

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