Every woman's journey through pregnancy is unique. However, along with sleep deprivation, almost all new moms experience diminished levels of body confidence after giving birth. Psychological studies have identified a tendency in many women to continue attaching to pre-pregnancy appearance standards during pregnancy. Doing so may can be stressful since getting the body back to pre-baby fitness levels can take anywhere from a few months to more than a year.
Such body confidence issues, if left unaddressed, can led to more profound mood disturbances and imbalances. With recent health research concluding that the longitudinal relationship between depression and self-esteem in postnatal women was affected by weight gain during pregnancy, let's consider some simple ways to restore body confidence after having a baby.
Fitness First - Move for Mood
Exercise has a significant impact on body confidence. It combines physical strengthening, toning, and weight-loss benefits, with increased production of endorphins, dopamine, and endocannabinoids, or the brain's feel-good neurotransmitters. Exercise promotes neuroplasticity, akin to a literal rewiring of own brains to create new pathways of thinking, and thus shifts in perspective of how we may view ourselves or others. Rigorous physical activity also increases oxygen supply to the brain, to aid this increase in positive thought processes.
The key is to do post partum workouts that you enjoy, and not to place too much emphasis on the potential weight loss results. Look for exercises that stimulate the pelvic floor muscles which are often weakened during pregnancy and childbirth. You may also wish to consider a moms and babies approach, with a variety of different exercise options such as yoga classes now catering for this. Exercising with your baby can be a wonderful way to bond through movement and close skin contact, and can also help to soothe babies towards sleep.
Have Time for Self Care
Self care can be administered in many different ways, and is always a step towards enhanced body confidence. For some new moms it could be as simple as taking a bath with some soothing music, aromatherapy oils or scented candles. For others, self pampering may take the form of a nap, a massage, or a walk in nature. Devoting some attention to one's appearance can be another form of self care. While you're undoubtedly run off your feet attending to the new love of your life, now may in fact be the perfect time to book that overdue hair salon appointment, or to shop for some updates to your wardrobe, makeup or fragrance collections.
Self care is a go with the flow, whatever makes you feel good, type of affair. It rests on the notion that the more relaxed we are in ourselves, and with the present moment, the more we are able to accept things as they are, which reflects as a feeling of confidence, in ourselves and in life.
Take Your Time
Changes take time, sit with this and reflect on your journey to motherhood so far. It took nine months for your body to miraculously grow another being inside it. The alterations to your shape, the weight gain, and any other niggles and pains, were all a part of this trip, and your body now needs time to recover. Confidence is instilled in us when we celebrate the positive aspects of what our body has achieved, rather than judging it for how it has morphed to accommodate the process of pregnancy.
Don't strive too hard to look any way other than how you are, and take comfort in the knowing that change is always inevitable. Tune in to the ways in which you can best foster a renewed sense of body confidence through subtle lifestyle choices that can be sustained over the long-term.