Women experience a slew of physical and emotional changes during pregnancy. With all of these happening, it’s possible that pregnant ladies fall into a world of negativity and self-deprecating thoughts which might then lead to a negative body image. Unfortunately, this goes on even after pregnancy.
If you have just delivered your baby and is experiencing this kind of emotional downfall, do not worry too much. That is normal, and most women at this stage usually face this situation. To help you get out of this emotional slump, we have listed some ways on how to be body positive after pregnancy.
1. Get enough sleep.
It’s pretty typical nowadays that most of us are sleep-deprived. All those late night works, and caffeine overloads are usually brought about by the considerable amount of time that school and work demand of us. Add to this the stress and anxiety pregnancy has brought to your table.
Believe it or not, sleep deprivation leads to overthinking. You think about your problems, you think about the lives of the people around you, and you think about what you’re going to do the next morning—basically, you think about EVERYTHING and EVERYONE.
Setting a regular time of sleep is the best way to go about this. Once you have set this time, make sure to keep your gadgets away at least an hour before so that this won’t distract you from getting enough sleep.
2. Eat healthily.
Many people say that the easiest way for someone to feel gross is to eat gross as well. So, it is important to stock your cabinets with healthy ingredients to make your mind and body feel good.
Don’t worry; you don’t have to eliminate eating dessert completely! The best version of a healthy diet is the presence of balance.
Here’s an essential guide for a healthy eating plan:
- Include fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
- Eat low-fat or fat-free dairy products.
- Limit the consumption of sodium, sugars, and saturated and trans fat.
- Add nuts, fish, lean meats, eggs, and poultry to your diet.
- Control your portion sizes.
- Eating plans should contain 1200 to 1500 and 1500 to 1800 calories for women and men, respectively.
Take time to plan your diet weekly. You may opt to use the help of online websites and applications as a guide for your daily meals. However, the best approach for this is to seek the advice of your doctor and dietician. Make sure your diet plan is in line with the realities of your post-pregnancy.
If you’re looking for additional ways on how to be body positive, the best way is to exercise. However, experts advise that physical activity is more about improving your fitness and not focusing on fatness.
Exercising while pregnant and after pregnancy will not necessarily change how your body will look. What it will contribute on is your change of mindset and how you feel about pregnancy.
The four aspects that you should focus on when creating your first workout session are the following:
- Class Format - There are two types of classes: individual classes or group classes. Some people prefer going to the former so that they are more focused and receive more attention. On the other hand, the latter is for those who feel less awkward when performing with a group of people.
- Type of Exercise - You may opt to choose whether you’ll focus on cardiovascular endurance, body awareness, flexibility, or strength development. Consult your trainers first so that you’ll know which one is the best for you.
- Instructor - It is crucial for you to find the best instructor. Make sure that you are comfortable working with them and that they give you a positive training approach. Do not choose a coach who will punish you and will create negative images of your body.
- Location - The workout environment also makes a huge difference. Look for a gym which will give you positive vibes and where you’re most comfortable with people.
Exercising can be a bit intimidating, but once you find the right workout strategy for you, you will see yourself on a positive light more frequently.
Just a note, however, to consult your doctor first before enrolling yourself in a gym. Sometimes exercising is not advisable, especially for those who have just delivered their baby. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
4. Study your body history.
Think and write about your relationship with your body. After establishing these narratives, make sure to study, question, and challenge them as a way of expanding positive experiences for yourself. Identify your triggers as well so that when these come up after the course of pregnancy, you will already be ready on what actions to take.
Studying your body history can be a way for you to establish concrete action steps on how to be body positive.
For example, if you analyse your narratives and notice that there is this one person who always makes you feel bad about your body, you can then proceed with planning. Come up with specific steps which will answer the problem you have noticed.
Most people overlook the practice of self-care when creating their body-positive journey. If you fail at this, there is a huge possibility that your mental health will struggle as well.
Self-care does not mean letting yourself go and eating all the chocolate and burgers that you want while assuring yourself that it’s okay. It is more on the lines of exercising, attending regular check-ups, sleeping eight hours a day, and eating healthy food.
Self-care also refers to appraising your mental health. If you feel your mental health is not at its best, make sure to set an appointment with a psychiatrist or therapist so you can address it appropriately.
If you’re not comfortable with this setup, the best thing to do is to look for a support group which you can talk about what you’re feeling.
6. Take pictures regularly.
You might feel great at one point, but the moment you see your picture, you’ll probably think, “What have I become?”
Our advice? Take the picture regularly.
You can use pictures as a way to normalise the rapid body size changes you are experiencing. Regularly seeing these images can stabilise your inner thoughts easier. You can also be less alarmed when you observe this body growth over the next weeks.
7. Think about your baby.
Whenever you are struggling with a negative body image, remind yourself that there is an incredible baby that is growing inside of you. It is one of the best ways to practice how to be body positive.
There may be times when you’ll feel that something is hijacking your body or your body is not even yours anymore. However, always keep in mind that behind all of these discomforts and weirdness, the consequence is an amazing one.
8. Unplug from social media.
Admit it: you browse all of your social media channels before you go to sleep. Most of us do. My advice, however, is for you to stop this habit.
Constantly immersing yourself with social media deprives you of maintaining a sense of mental balance. Visiting other people’s accounts leads us to compare our lives with theirs, and if we feel that we’re not at par with them, we drown our lives in misery.
To avoid this, we have to control how we manage our time online.
Here are some ways how to be body positive by limiting the use of social media:
- Create a social media schedule. It means that you have to set time slots where you’re only allowed to open your accounts.
- Avoid going online an hour before sleeping.
- Use social media avoidance applications. Some let you set foot on your accounts at specific time slots while other applications automatically close your browsers once you have reached a certain time limit.
9. Hydrate regularly.
Remember, your baby is drinking from you too. The effect? You might feel dehydrated and thirsty most of the time.
If your body houses only a few amounts of water, there is a significant tendency that your skin will dry out and you might also feel weaker. These side effects might result negatively with regards to your body confidence.
To counter this effect, the best way is to drink water regularly. Make sure that you take in at least one to two glasses per hour.
If you feel you have not yet registered this habit within your hourly and daily routine, you may seek the help of an online tool. These hydrating apps will remind you to drink water hourly until this habit registers in your system.
10. Ditch the scale.
Everyone gains several pounds of weight during and after pregnancy. You might feel tempted to regularly check the scale to see if you have lost all of those extra weights.
Excessively checking the scale will make you feel more devastated. So, make it a habit to avoid it and just set weekly weigh-ins as a compromise.
11. Say your affirmations every day.
Try to keep your affirmations on your phone or wherever you can see it daily. If you don't have any yet, make sure to spend at least 15 to 30 minutes to reflect on whom you want to be, what you want to do, and how you want to spend your time every day.
Having affirmations will remind you of how you see yourself and how to be body positive. You don't have to think about what others would say about you. You have to focus on who you want to be. Make sure that your affirmations will only reflect what's really inside your heart.
12. Throw yourself some compliments.
Saying a compliment to yourself is a habit you should develop. It's free, and you don't have to wait for anybody to tell good things about you. Just look in front of a mirror and say anything, I mean ANYTHING you want. You can be your own cheerleader. Here are some compliments you can tell yourself:
- I am beautiful.
- I am sexy.
- I am smart.
- I am healthy.
- I am strong.
- I am confident.
- I am funny.
- I am humble.
- I love the environment.
- I care for other people.
- I love myself.
- I can land my dream job.
- I can take the weekend off and travel somewhere nice.
13. Set goals and reward yourself.
Waking up every day without goals is like trying to get out of quicksand by struggling. You want to move forward, but you can't help yourself from sinking deeper and deeper. Setting goals will help you to have a vision for the future. They will serve as your direction on finding your purpose in life. But of course, you can't just set any goals. You have to set SMART goals. By smart, we mean:
Having SMART goals will allow you to work on small, yet steady steps. You'll be more likely to achieve them and feel good about yourself. Make sure to celebrate with a reward every time you accomplish a goal.
14. Write an entry on your journal daily.
A lot of us may think that keeping a journal is a tedious task, but it's a very therapeutic activity. When you write a journal entry, you have complete control of your thoughts, feelings, and emotions. No one can judge you beside yourself.
If you don't know how to write an entry, you can start with the things you're grateful for the day, what will make your day terrific, and what you need to accomplish during the day. You may even write about the amazing experiences you have with your newborn!
By writing your answers on paper, it will validate your decisions, and you will be more likely to accomplish them. If you make this a habit every morning, you'll be surprised by your new found clarity. Believe it or not, this is a simple way on how to be body positive.
15. Establish a support system.
Surround yourself with people who have a constructive influence on you rather than those who reinforce your bad habits.
Do not spend time with people who body-shame you and who always talk about the negativity you feel in your body. These people only add to the negative thoughts you have.
The best support systems are those individuals who eat healthy dishes with you, whom you can exercise with, and who gives you the best cheer whenever you are making progress. These people are your instruments in establishing the best strategies on how to be body positive.
16. Walk around naked.
“Walk around naked? How can this help me?”
It might have been your first though the moment you read this. Believe it or not, this strategy helps!
Walking around naked after your pregnancy can help you appreciate your body more. You’ll see that your pessimism and anxiety are what brings about the imperfections you see.
Some C-section moms even share that walking around naked let them see their pregnancy scars on a different light. If they see this as a burden before, regularly viewing it changed their perspective. They believe these scars as a sign of braveness and a source of their amazing babies.
Their accounts proved that walking naked can teach you how to be body positive after pregnancy.
17. Practice gratitude.
“The more you treasure what you have, the more you have to be thankful for.”
We usually hear this sentiment as a way to bring positivity on to the table. Being thankful with what you are receiving is a better mindset than being stressed with everything that is going wrong in your life.
Practising gratitude starts with having a gratitude list. Add things that you are thankful for before you go to sleep and the moment you wake up in the morning.
It can be as homely as eating a delicious breakfast or appreciating the sunny weather. You can even include how thankful you are in seeing the smiles of your family, especially your newborn’s.
This simple practice will ensure that you start your day with a positive vibe and eventually, a better mindset will follow.
18. Educate yourself.
Educating ourselves can help us understand the realities of both our internal and external environment. We will also be able to learn the proper response when it comes to our emotions, judgments, attitudes, and beliefs. Knowing how to manage these things appropriately will continually shape our mindset and how we deal with body positivity.
The best approach to educating ourselves is by reading. Here are some books on body positivity that will help you with what you are going through:
- Body Respect by Linda Bacon and Lucy Aphramor
- The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli
- Beautiful You by Rosie Molinary
- Undead Girl Gang by Lily Anderson
- Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman by Lindy West
- Biology of Belief by Bruce Lipton
- The Romance Diet: Body Image and the Wars We Wage On Ourselves by Destiny Allison
- Gabi, A Girl in Pieces by Isabel Quintero
- Big Girl: How I Gave Up Dieting and Got a Life by Kelsey Miller
- Molecules of Emotion by Candice Pert
- Body Outlaws: Rewriting the Rules of Beauty and Body Image by Ophira Edut and Rebecca Walker
- The Summer of Jordi Perez by Amy Spalding
- The Earth, My Butt & Other Big Round Things by Carolyn Mackler
19. Wear what you are comfortable with.
Rather than dressing up to impress other people or just focusing on designer labels, why not just wear what you are comfortable with. Don’t think about whether the people around will judge you because you’re not on the #TrendyList or you don’t have an #OOTD that is the same with theirs.
Wear something that you love and that fits your personality. Take note that it does not have to be expensive. If you feel more comfortable wearing the combination of short-shirt-rubber shoes or a little black dress, then go for it. You can even wear mother-baby twinning outfits if you like!
Remember: do not go for something that you feel is not you.
Your choice of clothes will make you feel more secure and more confident about your body. It can also be an answer on how to be body-positive after pregnancy.
20. Do something good for others.
If you are pushing for a more positive outlook on life, it is not enough for you to focus just on yourself. Instead, you can use this time and energy into doing something good for others instead of wasting it on counting your meal calories or worrying about your body.
It does not have to be grand as paying for their airfare going abroad or buying them a new laptop. It can be simple acts that you can accomplish with just using a small amount of energy. If you still feel lost on how to go about this, here is a list of possible tasks you can take part in every day.
- Take a friend out for lunch
- Buy a toy for your baby
- Call a friend or family member in need
- Bake cupcakes for your children
- Accompany your friend in buying groceries
- Volunteer in a shelter
- Create artwork for someone
- Read your child’s favourite book
- Send an inspirational text to friends in need
- Cook a meal for your loved ones
If you continue doing good for others, it will most likely foster the personal connections you have with them. This kind of positive mentality will then help improve your mindset in whatever aspect of your life—especially with regards to your body.
These are only 20 ways on how to be body positive after pregnancy. There are still countless other strategies on how to go about this problem, but the aforementioned daily habits can be your foundation. What’s important is for you to find the best practices which fit you the most to be able to create a healthier relationship with your body.