Hi Dream Mamas, my name is Ema Gidley-Smith and I am delighted to be contributing to the Dream Birth Edit to share a topic I am very passionate about - Post Partum Body Positivity. I'm a mama to a little boy Jenson and a personal trainer with an interest in pre and post natal fitness. Body image is something I personally struggled with when I first became a mama but I am thankfully over the other side now and think sharing stories like mine on what helped me can be very helpful to others.
Let’s be honest Mamas, having a baby changes your body in a lot of ways.
Whether that’s mentally and/or physically. It can be hard to love and appreciate a body that doesn’t look anything like the one you used to know.
Although the world of social media is improving and women are more confident showing the 'real version' of themselves, it can still be pretty hard not to compare your post baby body with not only every other woman out there, but the woman you knew before motherhood.
Postnatal Body Positivity.
When we hear the words 'body positivity' you may presume I mean looking in the mirror at your physical appearance and how you look.
Although body positivity has some part of that, it’s also about how you care for, respect, and are aware of your body’s needs, whilst showing gratitude for what your body has done and is still allowing you to do daily.
Here are my top 6 things you can do to help yourself when it comes to body positivity. Remember mamas, this is about your mind as well as your body. We need to start treating it with the care and respect it deserves.
1. Eat well - Ensure you're getting adequate nutrition and calories. This will help your body heal and recover from birth, and will help you feel good inside and out.
We know some days are going to be harder than others when it comes to nutrition. Try your best and remember any form of restriction isn’t what we want. Doughnuts and cake play a part in everyone's lives and if this is what you want on the tired, sleep deprived days, eat the doughnut, enjoy the cake and never feel guilty.
2. Exercise - I know this has been mentioned at the Dream Birth Company quite regularly and I couldn't agree more. Safe Exercise during and after pregnancy is hugely beneficial for both mama and baby.
Once you feel ready, following a strength programme that focuses on pelvic floor and restorative exercises that can be done at home can help greatly, especially in the early stages where everything feels a little disconnected from each other.
After your 6 week check up and if you've been signed off you can then look at heading back to swimming, zumba, Yoga, running or anything that makes you happy. Just don't let yourself feel pressured by any outside influences or “fitspos" to get back to doing those things before you're ready.
3. Mindset - Take time daily to understand how you are feeling. If your thoughts are negative towards yourself, try and halt those thoughts and respond with positive thoughts and things you love/appreciate about yourself.
Ask your partner and/or family to write down all the things they love about you and pop them in a jar. On the days you are not feeling yourself take a slip out of the jar, read it and I guarantee it will make you smile.
4. Talk about it - Although it can be hard, especially on the days that feel tough, the ones that are hard going, the ones where you have a good cry ....talk about it. Whether that's to your partner, a friend or a fellow mama.
Mum friends know exactly what you are going through and on the days you think it's just you, the fact that someone is going through it or has been through it can make your load feel a little lighter... and lets be honest what isn't helped by a cuppa and a chat with a friend.
5. Practice self care - When we talk about self care this doesn't mean a grand gesture (I mean it could be) but its something for you. Something that makes you smile, something that is good for your soul. It could be a walk, a guided body scan meditation, a beautiful blowdry, or a warm bubble bath with a set of candles and your favourite book.
6. If needed, seek professional help - After birth our bodies can feel strange, if not slightly off.
It's hard to explain but I'll use my own situation post partum as an example. After having my little boy something felt strange. I was wetting myself a little during the day, not being able to hold in a wee and a heaviness below that I couldn't quite explain. After speaking to a few of my friends who are health professionals came to understand that I was experiencing issues with my pelvic floor. Which can be very common for new mothers but it is definietly not normal and it was having a huge impact on my mental wellbeing.
Although I tried all the Kegals/Pelvic Floor Exercises in the world, it just wasn't working.
Insert….. SUPER WOMAN, a Pelvic Health Physiotherapist. This is something that no Google search can fix and sometimes you need to get the help of a professional. Whether that is a Pelvic Health Physiotherapist, therapist, Personal Trainer or whatever it may be. They are there to help and although you may think you are on your own there is always someone out there to help you.
So, there you have my top 6 tips for body positivity in motherhood.
Your body is powerful.
You are a strong and wonderful mama.
Not only have you birthed a beautiful little one but your body knows how to heal. It may need some help to heal, and thats ok.
If ever you are feeling fed up with how you body looks just remind yourself of all the good your body can do :
Your body carry and rocks a tiny human till the early hours of the morning.
It gives you the strength capable of lifting car seats and prams.
It gives you the strength to feed at 3am when your eyes don't want to stay open.
It has the energy to keep up with non-stop crawling.
Your body can give the most comforting hugs to a teething baby or tantrum throwing toddler.... and that's just the early years!
Be proud of the person you have become and let's spread some Mama Body Positivity.
Love Ema xx
Thank you so much to Ema for contributing to our blog and sharing your top tips. Ema is taking on online clients for her personal training business, if you would like to get in touch email firstname.lastname@example.org. This blog is all about helping other mamas with personal stories, birth preparation and expert advice on important topics. We hope you enjoy, please share the articles with your mama friends.
If you're on instagram and looking to fill your feed body positive accounts here are a few of our favourite:
If your looking to send your body some love and gratitude for doing all that it does, try out FREE guided body scan for new Dream Mamas on our audio page.
Thank you Dream Mamas xx