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  • Jen Curtis

Let Yourself be Postpartum

"I'm practicing self love", "I am body positive", "love yourself no matter your size" "I'm trying to accept my body just as it is" "Fuck the scales!" . ... said the woman on Instagram who has a six pack, airbrushed skin and and 3% body fat who eats a clean diet, works out for 2 hours every day and never slips up. . It's easy to feel good in the skin you're in when you look like a supermodel. But you don't get to tell others about how you have never been more confident and you are practicing self love though. . Can you love yourself though when you don't look your best? Can you feel good about yourself when you don't actually look that good?

This is me one week postpartum, after getting home from the hospital . Like when you're 2 weeks postpartum and look 6 months preggo (but a bit saggier)?


When you feel like you've been hit by a truck and you look a bit like a pregnant old lady?


When you're tired, run down, puffy, stretched out, in pain, swollen and squidgy? . Can you feel OK about your body? Can you not feel shame about your belly? Can you talk to yourself kindly? Can you just be in this postpartum body?


You don't even need to feel good about it - just observe it. See it. And not freak out. Can you remove the charged emotions? Can you notice the discomfort and longing for something else? Can you observe that sinking twinge of "fuck, what have I done?!" That fear that it will be this way forever, that you have ruined your body?


Because it can be hard to see yourself like that. If you had a c-section, seeing the scar for the first time can be very scary. Seeing stretch marks that you didn't know you had can feel crushing.


Every woman goes through this on some level. . It doesn't mean that you have to accept that it will always be this way, that this is the new norm. You're allowed to not always want this body, but can you be OK with it being what it is now, while knowing that one day you want it to look different? Can you feel confident while feeling motivated to change? Can you be patient? Can you know that this is just temporary? Can you just accept that after giving birth you are supposed to still have a belly? . And can you sit with a body that you DON'T want before it's a sensible time to work towards change? Those first 4-6 weeks postpartum are about healing and recovery, and NOT about weight-loss or other aesthetic goals... can you be OK with that?


**Although, there's a lot you can do to help your body heal in that time. . Can you see what value your body has other than it's appearance? Can you feel like a badass mother fucker for GROWING A HUMAN, pushing it out (or having it cut out) of you and keeping it alive (however you choose to feed)?


Our mums didn't take pictures like these after giving birth and it is a cultural norm to hide our bodies under baggy clothes until we "get our body back". Most women won't agree to be in a photo, even with said baggy clothes on them. Look back at your family album - how many photos are there of your mum in the first few weeks postpartum?


We're just not exposed to postpartum bodies. But the truth is, most women look pretty rough after giving birth! Even celebrities, we just don't see any of those images. We only see the "after" pictures". The result is that pretty much every woman in the history of the world feels like they are the only one that looks "this bad", and that is false.


We don't have to sugar coat it, or put a positive spin on it. You don't have to tell yourself it's amazing and wonderful and beautiful. In my opinion, bypassing the topic and associated emotions like this is unhelpful and silly. We can call it what it is, be honest and candid about it. A lot of postpartum sucks. Your body will likely feel unrecognizable - but can you be OK with that? Can you refrain from labeling it neither good nor bad and just be?


The fact of the matter is, even if you do nothing, it does get better, it is temporary. If you want to actively work towards healing, there is a lot you can do, even in the early stages. But what I hear from some women is that "I'm letting myself off the hook for X amount of time, and then I will lose the weight/start working out/get back in shape". It's like we have an on/off switch - we either don't care, we just ignore it and numb the feelings of being uncomfortable in our skin, and then we flip the switch and hate our bodies, using that hate as motivation for change.

A lot of women will say "our bodies are amazing!" and focus on what they DO. If that works for you and is genuinely how you feel, then that is amazing (and none of this post applies to you). BUT, this isn't how I felt. I felt in awe of everything my body did, at it's ability to grow a human, survive over 20 hours of pitocin-induced contractions and a c-section, at the fact that it was now producing milk and feeding my little baby, producing everything he needed to be healthy (apart for vitamin D - how weird is that?!) I felt all of those things, but at the same time I did not like the way my body looked, at all, not one bit. BUT I was OK with not liking my body. I knew it would change and I knew there was a lot I could do to help it along. One does not rule out the other.

I predict that many women are like me, they think it's amazing, but they also don't like the way their bodies look. I also think many of them will try to bypass those feelings, block them out, shove them down, ignore them and try to "think positively" and talk themselves out of it. Again, if that works for you, that's great, keep doing it, but I don't think it's a good long-term strategy for many.

I like the truth. Honesty. Then I can accept, digest, process and move on with my day. I don't like kidding myself or telling myself elaborate stories or denying my feelings. It just doesn't work for me or make me feel good, or feel right.

It's OK to not be OK with your postpartum body.

I guess what I'm REALLY trying to get at in this post is that EVEN THOUGH it's amazing what our bodies do etc etc, lots of women still don't like the way their bodies LOOK, and that's OK! We don't have to like the way our bodies look at this stage (even if we are in awe of what they DID and ARE DOING)... It's OK to want them to look different... but can we still feel good about ourselves even if we don't like the way we look. We don't have to "positive thinking" our way out of it, sugar coat it or focus on the amazingness of our bodies. We can be OK with not liking the external aspect of our bodies . You're worth so much more than your looks... and so am I. You have so much to offer this world, to give to your children, to share with others. Explore that for now and let yourself be postpartum...

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