Why I’m Not Obsessing about a Perfect Body After Baby

All signs are pointing to the fact that I’m nearing the end of my pregnancy.

Of course, the calendar is an unavoidable reminder that my due date is rapidly approaching. There are also some not-so-pleasant rites of passage that I’ve encountered lately that have to do with my appearance.

For example, I can’t wear a lot of my shoes. Heck, I can hardly take them off when I get home. I’m the odd exception welcoming winter weather into spring because I’d prefer that nobody witness my cankles. Low temperatures make wearing boots into April socially acceptable and I’m all for that right about now.

Nobody looks at my face anymore. All eyes are on that belly and my increasingly graceful waddle. The grocery store has become a gauntlet filled with well-intentioned strangers, eager to ask about my due date and remark on how I look ready to pop. Um, thanks.

My favorite? The injustice of weigh-ins at my now weekly doctor visits. Did that say what I think it said? And why does it make me feel so horrible about myself?

With hormones run amok and a body that seems to no longer be something I actually have any control over, my thoughts have inevitably turned to “getting my body back” after I have the baby.

This actually makes me sad, because instead of thinking about how amazing my body is right at this very moment – it’s creating a tiny human after all – I’m wishing it away.

I’m mentally calculating how long it will be before I can hit an exercise class or go for a run depending on when and how I deliver. That in and of itself isn’t bad. I enjoy healthy activities and want to set a good example for my daughters. The problem is I’m not thinking about my health, I’m thinking about what I look like. Worse still? I’m skipping right over the joyful, intense, and, okay, sleep-deprived wonder of having a newborn.

There’s intense pressure for new moms to bounce back after baby. Hollywood starlets are celebrated for appearing on magazine covers within weeks of giving birth as if they were never pregnant at all. It’s no wonder that with my first baby, I didn’t even pack maternity pants to go home in. Nobody had explained to me that sometimes you still look pregnant after giving birth for weeks or months at a time.

I’m ready for that this time. My maternity jeans are in the hospital bag. Since this will likely be my last baby and therefore last chance to experience the euphoria of a new little life, I’m trying to allow myself some grace as far as my shape over the next year as well.

When I think about getting my body back, I’m trying to shift my focus from losing the weight and looking a certain way to nourishing and caring for my health. My body doesn’t need to look perfect, it just needs to be able to care for a newborn. I need strong hands to hold her, soft spaces to comfort her, and legs that can walk back and forth or bounce up and down to soothe her. That’s what matters.

When we’re both ready, I’ll take that class and go for that run. It won’t be to get anything back, however. It will be to celebrate the amazing vessel that never left in the first place.

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Photo credit: Tatiana Vdb

 

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