There seems to be a rampant obsession with regaining our ‘pre-baby body’ as soon as possible after we give birth to our babies, and is a phenomenon that seems to occur mostly in Western society. It’s almost as though we feel the need to erase all evidence of pregnancy and child labour that remains within our bodies. This whole obsession is exacerbated when we compliment our friends on how ‘ahhh-mazing’ they look since they have lost that ‘extra baby weight’; even though, all we are trying to do is make them feel good.
What we need to be doing, to ensure the mental health of our friends, is compliment them on how well they are doing as a new mum, and how healthy and radiant they look just as they are; even better, not comment on how they look at all, which is difficult because we have become accustomed to doing it. It is common for new mums to post Facebook posts about how much weight they have lost to recieve a boost from friends; however, in reality this is when we need to assure them that it isn’t healthy to hasten weight loss and that they don’t actually look any better than they did two weeks ago (maybe not with that exact sentence).
It has been so deeply engrained into all of us, subconsciously, that a body type within certain parameters is beautiful. Maybe we think that we will no longer be desirable to our mate if we don’t look the way we did when they fell in love with us. So we rush to get our body ‘back’, as though we have somehow lost it, when in actual fact they have been patiently waiting for us to be happy with them the way they are. If this idea sounds strange to you, I am not surprised, we are not taught that our bodies respond to our love and gratitude – but they do.
In yoga we are taught to listen to and talk to our body. We need to hear her needs to go slow in this journey, thank her for diligently executing our desires, for allowing us to experience pleasure and for teaching us lessons. In a book called Asana Pranayama Mudra Bandha, Swami Satyananda Saraswati explains, “The mind and body are not separate entities. Although there is a tendency to think and act as though they are. The gross form of the mind is the body and the subtle form of the body is the mind.” So with this understanding it becomes clear that we need to treat our bodies with loving kindness rather than demand she be thinner and less new-mum-like.
Another imperative point to remember is that we need extra weight after we give birth to be able to produce milk and make it through the nights filled with activity that weren’t there before. During my first pregnancy my weight didn’t change at all, so by one week postpartum I weighed ten kilograms less than I did before becoming pregnant. You can only imagine the compliments that poured in, some of them with an obvious tinge of envy. What everyone didn’t realise that I was struggling, badly. I was not in good health physically or mentally. I barely had the energy to do what I needed to do and I had to eat constantly, which isn’t great for digestion (including postpartum poo time!). I understood now why women had evolved to put on a minimum of eleven kilograms during pregnancy and I wished that I had.
We are being brain washed every minute of every day into thinking that we have to conform to a specific image to be attractive, and worthy of love when the truth is, we are always attractive to someone who truly loves us and we are another (mini) person’s entire world – flab and all. With this in mind, doesn’t it make sense that it really doesn’t matter what the rest of society thinks? Logically yes, although it isn’t that simple obviously. We have decades of ideological standards to undo and that can only happen if we start asking the question, “why?”
Why is a flat tummy more desirable than a round one? Why are large full breast more attractive than small saggy ones? Why are stretch marks not okay to show? It’s when we start to ask these questions that we begin to realise that there is no satisfying answer. When we stop seeking approval from outside sources, these questions become null and void. Our subconscious is simply sorting through our blue print, the information that has been imprinted on us through out our lives; therefore, it is calling upon what we have learned from the outside world. We must be grateful for what we have, for only then will we start to experience the warm sensation of feeling truly beautiful, from the inside out.
For more on how practicing gratitude and mindfullness promotes physical change –