How to Stop Missing your Pre-baby Body
My heart sunk to the floor as I watched a fitness celebrity on YouTube hold her three-week old baby and tell mothers it was time to get their "pre-baby body" back. She went on to say that the following workout was safe to do postpartum.
Sisters, some women are still in the hospital at 3 weeks postpartum. Not to mention, the exercises were not safe, even for a woman who’s labor and delivery went perfectly. I want to believe she had good intentions, but intentions take a back seat when what you’re promoting is actually dangerous.
It crushed me to know that thousands of women were being exposed to that unsafe, unfair, and above all, shame-building video.
It’s so easy to fall into the motherhood shame-trap because of that type of leadership in the fitness industry.
Oh, your baby is three weeks old and you look like that, and are moving like that? My baby is 3 weeks old, too, but I still look 5 months pregnant and can’t jump without peeing myself. What is wrong with me?
There’s something seriously twisted with our society and the way we think about bodies, women, and motherhood.
I’m sure you’ve seen the thousands of workout programs or diet plans advertised for new mothers, fully centered around the idea of getting your pre-baby body back, and you haven’t even thought twice about it.
But let me ask you a question.
How would you feel if insurance companies were down your throat about getting your pre-baby insurance plan back?
You would be offended. You want that baby covered, don’t you? That baby is your heart living outside your body. Your heart needs to be insured, hello.
Or what if your friends expected you to have your pre-baby schedule and availability back? Forget bedtime! Come party, that baby can take care of herself!
You’d probably rethink those friendships.
In every single area of our lives we expect things to look and feel completely different after we‘ve had a baby—our jobs, our homes, our free time, our relationships, our vacations, our holidays; literally everything. Except our bodies.
We want those bodies to act like that baby doesn’t exist.
Its truly a (normalized) tragedy. Meanwhile, in other cultures around the world, stretch marks, scars, and saggy skin are badges of honor; even considered sexy. Some women would see us hiding evidence of children on our bodies, our sexy scars, and they would think we’d completely lost our minds.
But since in our country we have celebrities with 4 million followers rocking expensive bags and expensive touched-up skin and scars removed, that is what our minds consider sexy. (I am not saying paying for bags or altered skin is wrong, I’m just trying to explain why our culture is attracted to a certain kind of woman, while other cultures not only embrace but celebrate signs of child-bearing.)
So, here are three simple ways to slowly start shifting your baby-body perspective. Because my guess is your perspective could use some tender love, care, and truth, just like mine did.
1. Stop demanding of your body things that you’d never demand of anything else in your life. You want your insurance plan to reflect that baby exists. You should want your body to reflect that baby exists, too.
2. Start considering the term “pre-baby body” a four letter word. Like, just don’t even say it. Instead, use the words “my today-body.” Let me explain what I mean.
We tend to romanticize the past (”my pre-baby body”), and worship the future (“my #fitmom body”). But we have absolutely no idea how to actually like the only body that’s real—Our “today-body”.
When you look back at pictures of yourself “pre-baby”, do you have that nostalgic feeling? The one that says, “Oh, this is when I was lookin’ GOOD. I wish I could look like that again.” Here’s the thing though: I can almost guarantee that if I time-traveled back to the day that picture was taken and asked you how you were feeling, you would still have something to critique about yourself. It is so much easier to love our past selves and our future selves, because they aren’t real.
That means that it really doesn’t matter how you look at all. Unless you learn to replace your self-critique with self-celebration of who you are in your today-body, it doesn’t matter how perfect you look—your critiquing habits will always be the lens you see yourself through.
3. The incredible thing is that when you do start loving your today-body, more endorphins flow from head-to-toe, which makes it a million times easier to make healthy choices that stick because they are coming from a stable and secure place of love—not a place of guilt or shame, which is fragile and finicky.
Not to mention, when we start loving our today-bodies, we can slow down and build a foundation—something that we most likely didn’t do before we had a baby because we were able to push our body to do certain things without repercussion. When you have a baby, you are forced to slow down, which is actually a much more sustainable way to get in shape and stay in shape without injury or yo-yo-ing.
So instead of obsessing over our pre-baby bodies the way the fitness industry wants us to (it’s marketable!), let’s be obsessively kind, patient, and loving towards our real today-bodies and our lives will completely change, one day at a time. We’ll honor our pre-baby bodies, but we won’t miss them anymore. We’ll be too busy loving our real selves to get stuck wishing for our past selves.