Your Post-Baby Body – Positive body image and “the bounce back”

I’m a Pilates teacher specialising in postnatal recovery and strength. A key element that you’ll never hear me stressing in my specialism is anything to do with “getting your body back after baby”, because…well, you have your body, it didn’t go anywhere.

When we’re pregnant we tend to revere the awesomeness of what our body is doing and celebrate the changes we see. Sometimes these changes bring with them anxieties and trigger latent insecurities, feelings of lack of control of how we look. But the prevailing social language tends to celebrate the bump, the brilliance of what you’re concocting inside.

When baby is out of its nurturing home inside you, however, the respect for the body seems to be immediately replaced by criticism and negativity. Quick, get back into your pre-pregnancy jeans now!! Make sure you can show no trace of there ever having been any alchemy and transformation inside otherwise….otherwise you’ve failed?!

This is such a bonkers narrative that has had us in its grips for too long. We need to reframe this by focusing on how we FEEL inside rather than the look of our jeans on the outside. Can you laugh and cough without peeing yourself? If not, that’s more important for your long term physical and mental health than any size label on your jeans.

I think we shy away from properly rehabilitating the body due to lack of awareness and support from our postnatal care system: the postnatal check currently doesn’t remotely focus on the physical recovery in any real way. But there’s also the fear of “having to do something” extra than the huge amount you’re doing every day with a new baby in the home: whether that’s your first or fourth.

Gentle daily attention is what’s needed: to your body aches, tending to yourself by stretching out after feeds and nappy changes. Drinking enough water. Breathing properly, consciously, deeply and slowly at least once a day – to soothe your nervous system and to heal your pelvic floor. Being conscious of your daily movement habits and posture as this has more impact on your pelvic floor than any half hearted pelvic floor squeeze. Paying attention to how you lift your baby out of the bath and pick up the car seat: THIS is fundamental exercise in the first year of a new baby.

Mostly though, we need to view our body with curiosity rather than criticism. How do I want to feel? How am I feeling now? What could I do to get closer to how I want to feel? More rest? Better nutrition to heal your collagen from the deepest level? More movement? More fun? More water? Taking a magnesium bath or a vitamin D supplement? Rather than feeling low and critical, focusing on the external aesthetic. Look inward, ask yourself: how do I feel?

How do you feel today?

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