Like many other stages in the perinatal journey, there is great variation in how our bodies physically adjust to pregnancy, and similarly adjust in the days, weeks, months and even years following giving birth to children.
Following birth, our bodies can take some time to adjust and recover. It is important to give yourself time to allow this to happen and try not to place too much emphasis on it.Your priority in the early days and weeks is to look after yourself – and not put too much pressure or expectations on yourself and how you may look.
As you begin to move along the journey into parenthood, the whole adjustment to parenthood lifestyle in itself can lead some parents to changes in their patterns of eating, sleeping and leisure time - as well as most other facets of life. You may find yourself eating more – due to there being less structure in your day or possibly comfort-eating, whilst for others parenthood can bring stress and lack of time for oneself to make time for eating. Breastfeeding also can impact on women differently, leading to weight loss in many women but not in others.
As a result, whilst some people may remain similar in size and/or shape following having a baby, for others having a baby can lead to significant weight loss or weight gain. These changes in our bodies and body image can impact greatly on our energy levels and sense of self-esteem.
There is certainly a lot that we can do to look after ourselves during and following pregnancy as well as work towards regaining some of our ‘pre-baby’ body. In particular this includes eating well and exercising – both of which are great for not only our energy levels and self-esteem, but also for the prevention and even treatment of mild postnatal depression.
For many women however, depending on your other commitments, priorities and available time and resources – this may not be possible, nor your highest priority. Adjusting to your post-baby body is likely to require some level of self acceptance – that there may be short, medium or long term changes in the way that your body looks and feels.
Whilst your body may not feel like yours, in time it will. Like other aspects of the journey to parenthood, give it time….