Would I like to go back to my pre-baby size and shape? Hell no. Here’s why…
Soft, plump and round, my stomach tells the story of how I was able to carry and nurture life for 42 whole weeks. It reveals how after experiencing pregnancy loss, our rainbow baby boy grew safely in my womb, cradled and comforted 24/7 until he was ready to make his earth side debut. It is a far cry from the tiny waist and defined abs of my twenties, but that’s not only OK – it’s beautiful. It reminds me of the power of my matrescence and I don’t wish to erase that in a hurry.
The stretch marks on my droopy boobs illustrate how I have nourished our son with my body for almost three years. They paint a picture of the determination of motherly love in the face of stigma and adversity. Once we stop breastfeeding they will remain (saggy!) pillows for his ails for many years to come. They’re about a foot less perky than my pre-baby B cups and that’s just fine with me. They have been full of life-giving liquid gold, a magical milk that has helped my baby grow in mind, body and spirit. It is an honor and a privilege that not every mother has and it is one for which I am immensely grateful.
My arms and legs are much bigger and stronger than they ever were pre-pregnancy, because since the moment of my boy’s birth, they have carried him daily. Through Illness, injections and an operation, they have been his safe place, day and night. Fueled by my breastfeeding appetite, my legs are covered in cellulite from my knees, upwards. Dents and dimples shaped by life-giving fat and flesh which makes me proud of my womanly form. Their size and strength is sublime and I will not be told otherwise by anyone. Ever.
My postpartum body tells a love story and one which I am grateful to share. Whether I gain or lose weight in future, it will be through loving actions that prioritize the health and happiness of my family and I. I will not ever exercise purely to lose weight or change the shape of my body. When I can, I do exercise to keep my heart and mind healthy, so that I can love my nearest and dearest for as long as possible.
If you are struggling to love your breastfeeding body, take a moment to tell your own story. An inspiring tale of the evolution of your motherhood. Start by taking a pen and paper and writing down the story of your body. Focus on the way that you feel and the things that you have achieved with your body’s help. You are, in every sense, awesome so remember that in the words that you use to describe yourself. We are all so much more than the skin we are in - but the skin that you’re in has brought pretty bloody far, actually and it deserves love and respect.
The company that we keep can have a profound impact upon the way that we see ourselves. If there is someone in your life who makes negative or derogatory comments about your body, tell them that they do so and ask them to stop. If they do not, you may want to reconsider how much time and attention you pay them. If you use social media, streamline the accounts that you follow and stop following any which have a negative impact on your self image. Remember that life online is filtered and photoshopped and not an accurate reflection of reality. Give yourself permission to unfollow any accounts which make you feel anything but inspired and perhaps follow some who do help you appreciate your form in all its glory.
The message of self love and self care in this blog is reflected in my debut book, ‘Self Care: The Breastfeeding Edition,’ available here, now: www.thebreastfeedingmentor.com/book