Post-Birth Body Image: Celebrating Self Acceptance, Daring for Self-Love
Every woman comes to pregnancy with a body that is uniquely her own, and with a mind and personal history all her own. Some women come into pregnancy with a body that they love being in. Some begin with something a little less than love; maybe with a strong like for your legs, or another part of your body that you are proud to highlight. Some women enter pregnancy with long-standing shame around aspects of their bodies, discontent with their weight or shape; a little too much of this, and not enough of that. Some come with bodies honored and loved, some with bodies that have experienced abuse and domination by others, or by our own means. But no matter how you arrived to your pregnancy, you are immediately part of something tremendous. You are doing holy work, you and your body. Your body is made sacred with every moment of this shared journey between you and your child.
For myself, and for all the women who I am lucky enough to share my heart freely with, none of us are simply this or that. Our hearts, bodies and lives are varied and nuanced with goodness and successes, with difficulties and failures. Lessons learned from, lessons still in practice; lessons taken deeper for the next opportunity for evolution. We are changed by our pregnancies, labors and births. Our bodies grow to support the baby and the internal environment of the womb; and these changes will be reflected in the external landscapes of our bodies.
Many women share a fear of how their bodies will change to accommodate a baby and the many physical changes that will be part of their pregnancy. The collective of mothers is marked and changed by labor and birth. Many of us will be challenged in self acceptance at some point, whether it is weight (too little, too much), stretch marks, extra skin, Cesarian scars or laboring injuries. Our blessed bodies are our witness, silent or not, that we have made this journey into motherhood.
There is no shortage of resources on, “How to loose those last 10 pounds” (at any cost!) out there, but there are also more and more post-birth celebration resources too as woman continue to honor their own changes, and honor other women by witnessing their bodies as they are, in their post-birth glory. Birthmarkings is a documentary film that features tight close-ups of the torsos of 10 women as they share in their own voices about their own post-birth bodies. The website, The Shape of a Mother, allows women to post photos of themselves and their stories, while giving other women the opportunity to offer support, praise and the chance to commiserate if that is needed; but self-loathing isn’t possible for too long in the good company of these women.
How has your own body changed? Are you at a point of self-acceptance, and dare we even ask, self-love? You are in good company here, please share if you feel moved to.