After pregnancy, it can feel difficult to get used to the changes your body has gone through over the last nine months. Your belly, hips, breasts, skin, and even hair may look different from before you were pregnant. Plus, you are likely more tired and have less time for yourself, which can impact your mood. It is totally understandable if you are struggling with your self esteem and/or body image.
Much of what people believe about body image finds its way to use through societal messages communicated through channels like social media. Many of those messages are about how you need to change to fit a certain ideal and they can leave you feeling like you are not good enough. We are here to tell you that you are good enough, exactly as you are.
Fostering negative thought patterns about body image impacts your mental health, social confidence, sex life, and even how you eat. Luckily, there are a lot of tools you can use to support this change as you transition from pregnancy to motherhood. Keep reading to find out tips for boosting your self esteem as you begin this new chapter.
Reframing is a technique that allows you to change how you think about a person, situation, or relationship by altering your perspective. You can do reframing exercises by yourself or with a therapist. Reframing involves looking at things from a different angle. For example, instead of seeing stretch marks as undesirable, reframe them as a beautiful reminder of the strong mother that you are. Put your “inner critic” in check. When they come at you with thoughts of self doubt, ask why. What is the deeper fear you are trying to protect yourself from? If you were actually your best friend, how would you respond to the thoughts that are coming up for you?
Change up the messaging
If you have social media accounts, do a quick review of the accounts you’re following. Unfollow or delete the accounts that encourage you to question your self-worth. Seek out and follow those who celebrate all bodies and different shapes and sizes. Representation matters. Regularly seeing images of people who look like you can be very validating to your existence as you are right now. Every body deserves respect. And you have every right to set boundaries around body talk. Even compliments on the shape or look of your body can be triggering. So it’s perfectly fine to respond with something like, “Please don’t comment on my body, I’d much prefer to talk about how I’m feeling.”
Make time for yourself
While parents typically do not have a ton of free time, you may need to ask for help from your partner or a family member or friend so you can find some peace and quiet in little doses. Whether you use that time to sleep, soak in a warm bubble bath, or listen to a podcast, try to focus on yourself. Sometimes it might just feel best to watch a show on Netflix! In need of some more ideas? Check out Ovia’s Daily self care checklist.
Try to be patient with yourself
Whether you’ve got a newborn, four-year old, or multiples, you’re likely in a hard, tiring stage of parenting. Remind yourself that this stage isn’t permanent. There will be times when you’ll have more energy. Now probably isn’t the time to start a new hobby or pick up an old one. You’re in the midst of making ends meet and that is enough.
Surround yourself with healthy relationships
With limited time as a parent, it’s even more important that your time is spent with people who lift you up. Surround yourself with family and friends who accept you and are a positive influence. If you feel comfortable, consider opening up to a safe person about how you’re feeling. Social support and encouragement can go a long way and may make you feel better and less alone.
Reach out for additional support, if necessary
Try to remember that you aren’t alone. Friends, family, and professionals are here to help. Postpartum Support International is a fabulous resource for those who aren’t sure where to turn if they’re feeling really down after having a baby.
Reviewed by the Ovia Health Clinical Team
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