Becoming a mom does crazy things to your body and mind, but here's how to fight back.
When I got pregnant, I was bound and determined to look good and sexy after the baby was born. I admired those moms in my Facebook news feed whose hospital pictures showed them smiling with makeup on as they cuddled their newborn. That was totally going to be me. I even imagined all the comments people would make in on those first few pictures. "Congratulations! Baby and mama look great!"
In retrospect, this was a crazy notion. (Can I blame that the hormones?) None of those things happened. Oh sure, people congratulated me on my baby, but I did not look good (or sexy). Not at all.
I was completely unprepared for the world of hoo-ha hurt and for all the things that come in the weeks after birth, like the oozing and not being able to control your bladder very well. Gross, right? Tell me about it. So, putting on makeup in the hospital never happened. And all those pictures of me with lipstick on, cuddling my newborn? Those never happened either.
In fact, despite the euphoria over having my daughter nothing about being a mom made me feel good. I felt gross (see bladder issues above), tired, fat and very unattractive. Losing the weight was taking forever. I was too tired to work out and nothing fit. One night, when my daughter was two months old, I was trying on pants. "Nothing fits!" I wailed to my husband as I lay prostrate on a pile of jeans.
"Well, maybe you could go buy something?" He suggested. The idea floored me. "But why would I buy something I'm only going to wear for like two months?" I asked.
"So you can stop whining and feel good about yourself," he said. One nap and one shopping trip later, I felt better about my new body and myself. I hate to admit it, but my husband was right, when it comes to feeling irresistible after becoming a mom, sometimes you have to just indulge your bulge.
Check out this photo gallery to find out the ten things I learned about feeling good and sexy about my postpartum body.
Buy a bra
Go to your local maternity store, get your ladies measured and then buy a really nice nursing bra. I don’t even want to hear any objections. Not only will this help you feel better about yourself, but in my case, when I went from an A to an E, it helped reduce some back pain I had wearing my cheapo nursing bras from Target. Also—I learned I was an E! Previously, I had been wearing a D! Like my mom says, “Your underwear are the foundations of your outfits, choose them wisely.”
Listen to me right now. Stop Googling “weight loss after baby” and chill out. There is no magic pill for looking how you used to pre-baby. And all those celebrities? They have personal trainers and chefs and nannies and if you had a bazillion dollars, you could look like them too, but you don’t. So, calm down. Stop holding yourself and your body to ridiculous standards. Stress only makes it worse, because stress leads to overeating and lack of sleep. Go easy on yourself. Your body just went through the wringer and you’re getting no sleep. Losing those last 30 pounds is going to take some time. If it makes you feel better here is a picture of me right after I had my kid. At least you look better than this. Now, go take a nap.
Enjoy your new body.
Don’t listen to yourself. You are tired. And all those voices that tell you how gross you are? They’re lying. Listen to your partner when he say you look good or compliments your giant knockers; don’t contradict, just say “thank you.” One year after giving birth, after I’d lost 50 pounds, I proudly showed off my ability to wear my skinny jeans and my husband looked at me and said, “You know, I didn’t ever think you looked fat even with all that weight on.” Guys aren’t noticing your fat rolls. They’re noticing that you just produced a human and you have big boobs! They’re in awe of you. So, take a tip: be in awe of yourself and know that at least one person in your house thinks your sexy. Try and make that two!
Get some help.
We can’t all afford nannies and we don’t all live near our parents who can pop in and mop our floors. (Not that mine would do that, but I like to live in denial.) But that shouldn’t stop you from asking for help. You know those people who are stopping by with food and asking to help? Take them up on the offer. They’ve all been there, they know you need help, so just admit it. Have them hold the baby for 20 minutes while you take a shower, run to the store, or brush your hair. Or ask the nice old lady down the street to pop in and help you while you run the vacuum. Or that little girl next door? Pay her $10 to help you with the dishes. Don’t try to do it all. Sure, you can do everything, but you’ll go nuts. Take a breather.
Take a nap
I always hate it when people tell new moms, “Sleep when the baby sleeps.” Because when else are you supposed to shower or eat or Google “how do you make your baby sleep?” But I get what they mean, and that is: “Take a nap or you’ll go crazy.” And in that, they’re right. I guarantee you, sleep helps you feel better about yourself. Don’t worry too much about developing bad sleep habits or making dinner. Those things are easier to sort out when you’ve had some rest and aren’t feeling batty.
I wanted to get back to my pre-baby weight so badly that I beat myself up about every extra calorie I put in my body. So, I often found myself avoiding snacks and then pigging out on meals later. Be ye not so foolish. Eating good meals is hard when everyone is bringing you fatty casseroles and your baby refuses to let you have any free time to eat, so stock your house with low calorie granola bars, nuts, dried fruit (I love me some dried cherries), dark chocolate and lots of ice water and low-calorie beverages. Eating a high-protein snack will help you feel better and you won’t over indulge on those awfully delicious lasagnas.
Snuggle that baby
When you start feeling dumpy and tired, just look at your baby. I know it sounds cheesy, but that little pooping ball of cuteness is your reminder that someone loves you no matter what. In fact, that baby is grateful for all of your stretch marks, bulges and dark circles, because without them they wouldn’t be alive. Or, at least, they are grateful now. When they’re teenagers, that might be a different story, but you’ll be better rested by then.
Buy something that fits.
No one likes to spend money on new clothes, especially when you only plan on wearing them for a few months. But listen carefully, you have to do it. Not just for your sake but for the sake of your partner who has to watch you whine about how all your clothes make you feel awful. Go out there, get yourself some pants and a couple basics that will help you transition. My favorites postpartum item was the Snug Camisole, because one size fits all and they aren’t kidding. Plus, I can still wear it now that I’m back to my normal size.
Get some Spanx
I have a friend who is a super-skinny mom of two and frankly makes me feel jealous every day. When I asked her how she looks so good she told me she wears Spanx under most of her clothes, because “they smooth out the bulgy bits.” Get thyself to TJ Maxx, and buy yourself some Spanx. I don’t care if you are back to your size 2 at one week postpartum (though I do hate you). But your body isn’t ever going to be the same. Pushing something the size of a watermelon out of something the size of a lemon is going to mess you up, and I don’t care if you’re Gisele Bundchen, you’re gonna have some bits that need some reining in. So, go on and get yourself some nice Spanx and smooth out some of those lines.
Take a walk
After you have a new baby, you may feel like you’re trapped in the house with your boobs hanging out of your shirt like some crazy National Geographic special. So, give yourself a reason to shove those ladies inside your nice new bra and go for a walk. The physical exercise will make you feel better (that’s just science), plus the fresh air will help you feel human and it's good for your baby, too. Even just once around the block can improve your mood. And as a bonus you’ll burn some of those extra calories.