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April 4, 2014

5 Ways to Love a New Mommy Body. ~ Tessa Chittle

pregnant belly flowers paint blue

My body seemed very foreign to me—for one thing I hadn’t really been able to see my lower body for the last month of pregnancy because my belly was too big.

One week before I was due to give birth to my first child, little Azalee, and after reading the blog of my amazing client and friend Jamie Wagner of The Blissful Kitchen; I committed to a daily body love practice for my New Mommy Body. This is what I commented on her blog:

“Thank you for the reminder to send love to my body because two days ago, in the last week before my due date of my first baby girl, I got my first and only signs of stretch marks.

Since I had thought I had escaped these body scares of pregnancy, I felt disappointed to see them suddenly appear this late in the game—pretty big red streaks up my lower belly. And for a moment I did in fact hate my body, hated it for these new scars as well as the huge amount of pain it has been in for the last two years. So right now I will send love: to the body that has grown my first little girl, a magic miracle of life that will profoundly change my whole experience of living.

I send love to the scars and even the painful back and pelvis that reminds me of the effort my body went through to bring this little girl to life. I love you body. And I set the intention to show you love even in the post baby stage of flab and weirdness and newness.

My body and I are about to be on another exploration together. A post baby love affair and getting to know each other again. ”

As a recovering diet addict, emotional eater and being body obsessed, here are my five tips for loving your new mommy body:

Pre-birth:

1. Actively meet hatred with love.

In the last week of my pregnancy, my “Loving My New Mommy Body” practice looked like being more present and loving to my belly and body as I applied lotion to it after the shower—even caressing my stretch marks and noticing their beauty.

I took time to look at my pregnant belly, to feel it, to thank it—knowing that any day now it would no longer be pregnant and knowing how profoundly important this belly was in bringing my baby into the world.

2. Picture your body as a young child to increase your compassion and care.

When my body ached and I noticed my body judgment or hatred rising up, I pictured my body as a child hurting. My heart naturally softened and I found myself taking actions to soothe and show love.

Post-birth:

My body seemed very foreign to me—for one thing I hadn’t really been able to see my lower body for the last month of pregnancy because my belly was too big.

Secondly, my belly literally looked fake. I told my husband that it felt like I had one of those fake fat suits on my belly since my belly button was still sticking out and the excess belly flab looked plastic. I completely didn’t identify with the belly I saw that first week after birth.

As the uterus returned to normal, this fake belly became more real looking and somewhat recognizable as my own—now with purple stretch marks that stretched from my pubic area up and around my belly button. And of course, I am slightly more curvy then I remember.

3. Replace your “shoulds” with curiosity and explore what your body tells you it actually needs.

Looking in the mirror I waited for the familiar judgment of this round pouch that I now had at my waist or the disappointment in the stretch marks and the fear of ever wearing a bathing suit again.

The judgment never came. I am waiting for the “shoulds”—I should eat less and I should start doing belly exercises ASAP. But it has not come up and I eat whatever my body tells me that it needs. I trust my body’s natural wisdom.

4. Praise your body for its amazing abilities and cellular wisdom.

After giving birth, my body now seems like a vessel with a clear purpose of supporting new life and oh how strong and wise this vessel is! My body, the fat and the skin, is simply made of cells doing exactly what they are supposed to do.

All I want to do is listen and honor my body because she got me through birth—a process my brain never could done through willpower, control, or analysis. My body did this miraculous thing through the innate wisdom that I have tried to ignore for years in my battle with food.

5. Shift your interpretation and make new meanings.

After being completely naked and exposed in labor, the modesty or embarrassment about body imperfection was gone. The meaning of extra fat on my body was no longer “lack of control/willpower,” “ugliness,” “imperfection,” or “hopelessness.”

That little layer of fat means food for my baby and is a reminder that I am a beautiful feminine mother with curves and imperfections that are all perfect and beautiful.

The focus on my newborn baby makes worrying about the roll on my tummy seem completely ridiculous. And the love and attraction my husband has shown to my new mommy body makes it seem even more ridiculous.

My old obsessions with food and body just don’t even make sense anymore—a perspective I never could have imagined a few years ago amidst the constant full blown war I waged with my body and food.

It has been a long journey to find freedom from food; I now feel at home and at peace with myself in this body. With this peace I sense that getting back to my strong pre-baby body will happen naturally with ease when it is supposed to. I will start moving my body when it feels ready in ways that feel good for it—without suffering and self-hatred along the way.

Just one more shift in my lifelong journey of letting go.

Surrendering.

Choosing Love.

 

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Apprentice Editor: Richard May/Editor: Catherine Monkman

Photo: Jerry Ludig / Pixoto

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