Honouring your body is a practiced art.
Honouring your body is something many women struggle with throughout all stages of life (whether you’ve been pregnant or not); largely due to the cultural narratives and the commonly harmful objectification of the female vessel.
Therefore… Honouring your body in postpartum has almost become somewhat of an enigma.
As modern mama’s we are in a unique time where the toxic “bounce back” culture is ever-present and yet the information era we find ourselves in, exposes us to the beautiful and often intricate complexities of other motherhood journey’s around the world.
We are in a unique time where the prevalence of contrasting postpartum experiences feels louder than ever.
However, as a doula, women’s circle facilitator, yoga teacher and a relatively new mother myself; I’ve found that more women than not, really struggle to honour their postpartum body at one stage or another.
Even as someone who considers themselves body positive and frequently implements practices of self-compassion… It’d be untruthful for me to say that I have always found it easy to honour the new stretch marks, softness and changed shape of my postpartum body.
Even as someone who recognises and creates awareness to the wider community, about the significance, service and strength within the rite of passage that is Matrescence; I too, have had days where honouring my postpartum body felt harder than I expected it would.
I believe learning to honour your body after giving birth, is a rite of passage on its own and a stepping stone to feeling empowered as both a woman and a mother.
So as you read this blog, please know my intention is for these shares to be a gentle nudge on your own rite of passage and becoming. My intention is also for more of these real conversations to be had in online communities, so that maybe one mother reading this feels less alone in her experiences and feels a sense of curiosity as she explores what helps her to honour her own postpartum body too.
No matter what headlines you’ve read in magazines about celebrities after they give birth, no matter what your antiquated health/wellbeing practitioner has stated or what society insinuate… There is no such thing as “bouncing back” after giving birth.
Birth changes you on a physiological, mental, emotional and spiritual level. Modern science even supports us with the evidence to show all the multi-faceted ways that Mothers are changed on a cellular level after pregnancy/birth.
So why do we as women, expect ourselves to go back to a version of us that no longer exists?
Postpartum is forever, my loves, and the fact is that our bodies are meant to change, grow and adapt to the different seasons that come with being alive. Your body is innately intelligent and is doing exactly what it needs to right now, in this season.
There’s nothing to “bounce back” to; rather there is a newfound power within and purpose for your body, that is waiting to be witnessed and honoured.
Early postpartum is such a sacred yet blurry time in our lives, that also leaves little space for intimate moments alone with our body after giving birth. For some women, just the idea of looking at their body feels too overwhelming in itself (and that’s so ok – all in your own time mama).
However, if you feel ready to, I invite you to actively carve out time to look at your body. Maybe that looks like taking a moment before hopping into the shower each day; to instead glance at your vessel, exactly as it is. In all of its perfect imperfection.
Why? Because how can we truly begin to honour our postpartum body if we do not yet know her.
To feel neutral about your body and focus your energy on reframing the negative/harmful internal dialogue you may have about your body, is BIG progress.
Neutrality is worth celebrating.
Despite what some body positivity movements may say, sometimes it’s easier to work on feeling neutral towards your body before you feel comfortable enough to love your body and see the beauty that has always been there. Just like I say to the women I work with… “It’s all about moving at speed of which feels safe and nurturing for your nervous system. There is no race or deadline, so take your time and invite self-compassion into the process”.
Women do not need another thing to feel ashamed about when healing and in such a liminal space within their lives… It is more than ok if your energy is focused on feeling neutral and taking the time to simply notice all the ways of which your body is currently serving you, rather than the ways it is not.
As time moves on and neutrality becomes your new normal versus negativity; then from here, we can begin to invite gratitude and self-love into our internal dialogue/how we view ourselves.
No pregnancy is ever the same.
No birth is ever the same.
No postpartum experience is ever the same.
There no vessel is ever the same as another after such monumental journey through the birth continuum.
We are all bio-individuals, that have had unique life experiences, that have an irreplaceable genetic makeup and access to different resources. There is no purpose in comparing yourself or your body, to another. There is also no purpose in comparing your present self to a version of you that no longer exists or a version of you that isn’t here yet.
Be here, mama.
Your body is forever changing, aging and adapting in every single moment of every single day. May you allow yourself to be with this version of you and may you even allow yourself to feel joy in the fact that your body is supporting you in this season of life in the best way it can.
Nurture and nourishment is going to look different for everyone. Especially depending on what stage of your postpartum journey you are on (because postpartum is forever – not just the first 6-12 weeks during the fourth trimester).
However, honouring your postpartum body can be as simple and sacred as eating meals made with wholefoods that are life-giving and nutrient dense. Postpartum is not a time for restriction, for excessive processed foods or skipping meals.
Postpartum IS a time for nourishment (in every sense of the word).
May you remember to come back to the basics in moments of overwhelm or disconnect and ask yourself these questions…
Have I drunk enough water today?
Have I eaten a nutrient dense meal?
Have I taken a moment to deepen and slow my breath?
Have I put my feet on the earth or basked in fresh air?
Have I showered or bathed today?
Have I allowed myself to rest?
Sometimes the basics, don’t feel so basic when you are in a season of overwhelm and disconnect; if that’s the case for you right now, ask yourself one question at a time and ask for help as you need it too.
I believe in you.
Your body is so much more than what meets the eye.
Your body is the vessel for your heart, mind and soul to co-exist.
Your body is the home of which your baby grew.
Your body is strong, resilient, powerful, poetic, life-creating, intelligent and most importantly… Your body is ALIVE!
As cliché as the saying goes.. “Never judge a book by its cover”?
Well, that applies to you and the changes within your postpartum body that you are still getting to know. If honouring your new squishy belly, scars, stretch marks, widened hips and ever-changing breasts feels too much for you right now… Then I invite you to begin honouring other parts of yourself first.
You are so much more than what meets the eye.
You are a force to be reckoned with.
You are a creator of life.
You are magic.
I also want to share a little list of things that have supported me to both honour and fall in even deeper love with my postpartum body these last 2 years… It’s not all inclusive of the things or experiences that awakened my awe for my human vessel but it is a list of things that I didn’t expect to have such a large impact on my own journey to self-love as a new Mother.
1 - Sensual and intuitive movement or dance. Any time I find myself being too self-critical or in my head, I pop on some music that makes me feel alive and start shaking what my mama gave me. I often start this practice by feeling SO much resistance to even getting up but after a few songs of movin’n’groovin, I shake off the energetic heaviness that I was feeling and finish feeling playful/empowered (endorphins play a big part in this)!
2 - Accepting that sometimes body neutrality is more than enough on the days that feel harder (I notice sleep deprivation and being self-critical tend to go hand-in hand for me).
3 - Booking in for a regular wash and blow-dry at the hairdressers. I always leave feeling so cute and sexy with a head full of soft curls.
4 - Beginning to learn boxing! I began this form of exercise (at about 1yr PP) not because I wanted to look different or change my body, but because I wanted a practice to lean on that reminded me of my strength and fierceness. I now go about 2 x a week (not a lot) and it’s a part of my week I look forward to every time.
5 - Listening to my body’s needs rather than projecting the needs I think I “should” focus on or be doing. E.g. taking a nap with my baby girl instead of cleaning or catching up on emails.
6 - Buying clothes that actually feel comfortable for my new and ever-changing body (that were also breast feeding friendly because that saved my sanity haha). This was a big one for me in those early days of postpartum and was the catalyst for body acceptance/self-love as a new mama.
Be gentle on yourself, my love.
Listen to your intuition and body.
Take this journey of honouring your postpartum vessel as slow as you need and know that by welcoming grace on this journey home to loving yourself, you give other’s the permission to do the same.
“There is nothing,
nothing, you need to change,
in order to be worthy of love.
There is only the act of remembering,
that you are love,
as you are, right now, in this very moment,
and you always have been,
always will be”
- Tania Hart @iamtaniahart
I am a doula, yoga teacher and women’s circle facilitator based on Bundjalung land (Southern Gold Coast, Queensland). My passion is supporting birthing people and their families throughout pregnancy, birth and postpartum. I believe in every woman’s right to birth in a way they intuitively desire. It is my greatest honour to bring nourishment, nervous-system focused support, education, skills and reverence to the rite of passage that it is to birth new life. Whether you’re live locally or across the seas, I’d love to connect with you and support you on your own journey through Matrescence.
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