If you are anything like me when I was pregnant, I’ll bet that you’re taking great care of yourself! There’s something about growing a whole new human being inside of you that motivates women to stop drinking beer, smoking cigarettes and going to drive-throughs for a Big Mac and fries. Women start drinking more water, eating better food, exercising more, attending Yoga classes, taking vitamins, napping on a regular basis. When we’re pregnant we’re motivated to stop all the things that we know are not so great and start all those things that we know are good for us, but never seemed to be a priority before.
Isn’t that interesting? It took getting pregnant before we really started to take good care of ourselves. But here you are now, being really really good to yourself. You should be so proud! You’re doing all of the things that are necessary for your baby to thrive. Because of the way you’re treating yourself, you’re giving your baby the best start possible. Good for you!
Guess what happens after the baby is born? All that love that you were lavishing on yourself, all those excellent habits that you developed over the long nine months while your baby was growing inside of you? They all go away. And they go away at a time when you so desperately need them.
Your baby is brand new and requires so much from you – everything, in fact. One of the most important things they require you to do is make their food. And the crazy cool thing about it is that it comes for your body.
After my first birth, I thought I was the coolest person on earth. I couldn’t believe how strong I was. For hours after that delivery I basked in this glow of what my body was capable of doing: I co-created a whole new human being in my body and then I pushed this new human into this world through my own body! But that’s not all – my body was going to produce the most perfect food in the world for my baby.
This was the same body that I had waged war with in my youth. Maybe this was true for you, too. We might have spent years loathing our bodies because our thighs were too big, or our breasts were too small, or our belly was too squishy. And it might have taken pregnancy to allow us to see our bodies with new eyes – or maybe not.
I have to reframe for my students continuously that they are not getting “fat” as their bellies expand to make room for their babies. They’re creating space for this new little person to grow and develop. They’re providing their body as the host and pathway for this new little person to come from – where? – to here.
These bodies of ours deserve loving care and attention before, during and especially after we give birth. But as we push our babies into this world, it’s like we forget all the hard work that our bodies have gone through. We forget to feed our bodies good nutritious meals, and we forget to drink water. We forget to step outside for a quick walk and a breath of fresh air. Sometimes we even forget how to breathe. We fail to care of our bodies. We don’t honor them at all. We place our baby’s needs in front of our own and skip meals, and steal sips of water here and there, and even deny that we have to pee because our baby is crying for our attention. We have to take care of them.
But we can only take care of our baby’s needs if we’re taking good care of our own, first.
It’s like the safety message on airplanes, “In the event that there’s a sudden loss of cabin pressure, place the oxygen mask on yourself first before helping small children or others who may need your assistance.” See the airlines know that if you waste precious seconds trying to get a mask on someone who needs help before you put one on yourself – you’re both going down. As new parents, we need to put our oxygen masks on first in order to be able to care for our babies.
What does this look like? Set up a space in your home that will be your nursing/feeding nook. It will have a comfortable place for you to hold your baby while you feed them. It will have a water bottle filled and ready. It will have some snacks that are on hand and easy to reach and eat.
Decide now what your bottom line is for a clean house – only the essentials – and let everything else go, or find someone else that is neither you or your partner to do it.
Have your best friend set up a meal train food delivery service so that at least a few times a week you can count on someone else making you delicious food and bringing it to your door.
Be gentle on your body and not make many demands of it in the first 6 months. Have some “big girl” clothes that are 1-2 sizes larger than what you wore before you got pregnant (not Maternity clothes!) that will allow you to look and feel stylish, but not rush you into getting your body back. Find ways to exercise that make you feel strong but stop looking at the number on the scale.
Have a babysitter or two on speed dial so that you and your partner can go out and reconnect.
Recognize that your body is ahhh-mazing! and deserves to be well taken care of. Vow to give your body more tender, loving care now than you did even while you were pregnant. Because if it weren’t for that body of yours, your baby wouldn’t even be here.
You are incredible. Your body is incredible. And there’s never been a better or more important time to take good care of it than now.
How did you feel about your body before you were pregnant? How about after you gave birth? What, if anything, changed for you? Did you give your body the TLC that it deserved?