New parenthood is hard enough—adjusting to being absolutely in charge of a new life is intimidating even for those whose hormones aren’t all over the place and whose bodies haven’t been put through the proverbial ringer. As a new Mom, though, there is this intense pressure to somehow give birth and then inexplicably bounce right back into your pre-pregnancy, most-fit physique.
Trust me when I tell you: that is not how it happens in real life. In real life, it can take months or even years to get back to the shape you were in before you got pregnant the first time and, as much as you might be trying to make peace with your new shape and image, that can be really hard for many women to deal with. Between not recognizing your body in the mirror and being super stressed out about raising your kids, it’s no wonder that so many mothers, especially new mothers, complain that they can’t remember what it felt like to look or feel pretty or to not cringe when they looked at their bodies.
Know that if you are feeling this way that you are not alone. Know also, that you don’t simply have to motor through them. There are things that you can do right now to help yourself feel better about how you look.
Sneak In Some Exercise
Making time for some of those post-pregnancy exercises might seem like a pipe dream. That does not mean that you can’t still get some exercise during the day. Try the following things:
~As you’re walking your baby around, loading the dishwasher and folding laundry, do some squats or deep knee bends. You can even try a lunge, but that might be awkward while holding your little one.
~During feeding time, get settled in to your comfortable chair and then, instead of propping your feet up on an ottoman, do some leg lifts. These help tone your legs but are “gentle” enough that the movements shouldn’t disturb the baby.
~To tone your arms and abs—do some weight lifting, aka, baby lifting. You don’t have to literally bench press your baby, but lifting your baby up and lowering him or her back down a few times is great for your arms, abs and back and, added bonus, is fun for your baby!
Looking the Part
For some reason, many women think that the frumpier they look, the more it means they care about their kids: “I don’t have time for *shallow things* like makeup or fashion; I’m too busy caring for my child!”
The truth is that there is real psychological value to taking some time to get into real clothes, fix your hair and even put on a little bit of makeup each day. When you like what you see in the mirror, you really will feel better about yourself. You don’t have to get super fancy. For many women simply putting on clothing that fits properly is enough.
Seeking Professional Help
For some women, more drastic action is needed. There are a lot of reasons for this. Many women decide that what they really need to feel normal is a “mommy makeover.” According to plastic surgeon Adam Basner, the mommy makeover is a term used by plastic surgeons to describe a number of procedures that help “rebuild” a woman’s body after she has given birth.
For example, some women ask for mastoplexies and abdominoplasties. For others, liposuction is the answer. Some women will even go in for labiaplasty, to repair the damage that happens during birthing a child (a lot of stretching and tearing can occur; this is damage that cannot be fixed by simple exercising).
It is important that you understand that there is nothing wrong with asking a professional to help you get back to feeling normal after you’ve had a child. What matters isn’t how you got there but that you get there and that you do actually feel better. The better you feel, the better of a parent you will be.