Transformational coach Nicky Clinch gives you her best tips on how to love and accept your postpartum body.
I was convinced I had a great relationship with my body – at least until after I had my second child. After 20 years in recovery from addiction and eating disorders, I believed my work was ‘done’ when it came to feeling at peace with my body. And yet, as I stood in front of the mirror naked, the day I brought my son back from the hospital, I could not believe what I was seeing. Was that really me? How can that be my reflection? I felt horrified by what I saw. I would go as far as to say disgusted.
My breasts no longer look like breasts, my belly bigger than ever before and the overhang of my belly across my cesarean scar left me nauseated. I felt humiliated, embarrassed and ashamed inside. I felt like a failure. The picture of what is supposed to be normal for us mothers is that we’re meant to ‘spring back’ easily to the bodies we had before our babies. But that is just not the case for so many women. And it was not the case for me.
My son was thriving and so was my family, but inside I felt sad and lost. I couldn’t look at myself in the mirror. I didn’t want to go out and let anyone see me. I hated getting dressed in the morning and the thought of going back to work left me with dread. I hated the way my thighs touched each other when I walked and every time I sat down, the overhang of my belly would flop down and hit my thighs. And I would feel shame, despair and depression. This was my fourth pregnancy in five years! I had lost two babies and birthed two. My body had been through a lot. It was time to start treating it with respect.
I pulled out the giant mirror from my bathroom and placed it on the floor in front of me as I sat in my underwear. Slowly, purposefully and lovingly I took my hands and placed them on each part of my body saying. “I love you, I accept you. Thank you for doing such an amazing job of bringing my son into this world”. My bigger arms, boobs, belly, overhang, cesarean scar “I love you, I accept you. Thank you for doing such an amazing job of bringing my son into this world”. And so I covered my entire body with loving thoughts and intentions. And I cried. Tears for the tough labour, tears for the miscarriages, tears for the whole journey of motherhood.
Afterwards, I felt lighter and I was ready to start loving and honouring this body I had now. The old me gone. I knew that if I couldn’t love myself right now and fully own who I am in this moment, I wasn’t ever going to be able to fully and truly love myself someday in the future. It had to be now, in this moment – this was it.
We get fed such damaging messages around childbirth and our bodies. All we see is the celebrities who step out of the hospital wards with full hair and makeup and perfectly sculpted bodies – you’d never guess they’d ever been pregnant. And how often do we get told that we need to be better, thinner, prettier, richer (this list could go on forever) than we are now just to be loveable, acceptable and good enough? We are enough now. Who we are now, with what we feel, how we look – we are enough.
Every time I look at my children I cannot believe they were created by my body. This body I carry is a miracle and instead of focusing on the rolls or the size, I want to focus on the immense power it has to create human life within it. I mean is there anything more incredible than that?
Here are some actions I would love to invite you mamas to do, to start loving and honouring your miracle bodies as they are right now.
Treat your body like it deserves to be seen – not hidden
Every day, no matter how tired you are, have a shower and take time to moisturise your body, take a few moments to massage your feet, paint your toenails, whatever works for you. But love it. Treat it like it deserves to be seen, not hidden away. It will make a difference.
Stand naked in front of a mirror and do the ‘I love you’ exercise I wrote about above. Allow any feelings to arise that need to so that you can feel them and let them go. You will feel lighter, more loved and it will help you heal.
Buy bigger clothes and underwear.
Honestly, this one may sound obvious but it’s amazing how many mamas are trying to squeeze back in the same old small sizes, leaving us feeling worse. Buy bigger, feel beautiful in the size you are now. This is a lifesaver!
No more comparison to your past self and to other mums
This is a very, very important one! So be strict with yourself – if you catch yourself making comparisons to other postpartum bodies and making yourself feel bad, stop! Keep the focus on you and where you are now and who you are now.
Move your body
Movement or exercise in whatever way leaves you feeling good about yourself and in whatever way you can whilst being a mama. Movement helps stagnant energy but also helps us to feel more at home in our body, freer in our own skin and it is also a loving self-care act for our health and wellbeing. Don’t do this only to ‘lose weight’ have the intention to love yourself – because you deserve it.
nickyclinch.com • @nicky_clinch
For more wellness tips, click here.