Thanks to the rapid period of pregnancy with fluctuating hormones and weight gain, it's an inevitable fact that our bodies will change, in some ways permanently.
Women might feel dread as they read that sentence. Not only does it imply falling out of the social limits of beauty and losing control of our own bodies, but it also means shopping for new clothes that fit and look nice on us.
|I can hear the screams now.|
|Lauren even ran a 3 mile before her c-section!|
This back and forth has women confused. It IS, actually, presented somewhat as a debate. Should a woman accept her body as it is, stay where she is at and learn to love her body? Should a woman feel obligated to exercise and/or diet soon after birth until she has returned to her original weight/shape?
They seem opposed, don't they? And each one carries a nugget of truth:
First, we should accept our bodies. This means we should acknowledge where we are on the beaten path. Our journey right now, the way we are right now, is an experience, whether we like it or dislike it. Openly looking at our bodies and learning all we can about ourselves is definitely beneficial to our personal development.
|Nearing 42 weeks|
|One week after birth|
Second, we should respect our bodies. It's something moms need to hear frequently. We have needs, too. Our bodies are important, too. If mamas still shake their heads while reading this, then think of it this way: if you aren't healthy, that will impact your child, too. You and your baby deserve a healthy mama-body! You deserve to feel good, to look good and to achieve the right health and shape for you. This in turn will battle against depression and anxiety during and after pregnancy, assist with the baby's weight in utero and overall prevent or decrease the risk of complications and interference.
|Eva is 8 months pregnant and nursing her toddler on a nature hike.|
|Getting in some exercise with a munchkin on the back and in the belly.|
The way to resolve the seeming opposition between these two "sides" is to keep it personal. In other words, when you want to exercise (or don't want to exercise) what is your intention? Exercising and eating to feel happy, healthy and prepared for motherhood is going to put you on a balanced path. Exercising and eating to set a goal and feel the accomplishment or to keep you connected in a supportive community is going to benefit you. If your goals for exercising are not realistic and healthy, then the exercise itself will most likely become unhealthy.
Similarly, taking a good, honest look in the mirror to learn about your experience and to feel the inherent strength and beauty of your body is an indescribable step towards self-actualization. Seeing yourself completely, without wishing any different, is an acceptance that most people yearn for and never find. Recognizing where you are, where you want to be and finding peace in that will benefit you. If your goal is to hide from problems in your life or inner fears and feelings of inadequacy, then this process itself will most likely lead to unhealthy living.
To all the women out there, looking at their bodies in the mirror, smiling, frowning, squishing fat or flexing abs...You are beautiful, Mother. Vous êtes Belle, Mere.
|Six months after birth, and after 2 c-sections.|
|One year after birth|
|Feeling accomplished after a race|
|After two kids|
|About 9 months after birth|
|About one year after the 2nd child, still nursing both.|
And my favorite video that shows exercising as part of an intense journey of self-discovery:
To learn more about motherhood and to see more photos and read stories of women who have walked the journey of being a mother, please visit The Shape of a Mother.