Don’t ever Google “post-baby body” and expect to find something uplifting.
Also, I shouldn’t have Googled my weight and height, what’s “normal” weight-loss post-baby or anything else along these lines, like I did.
The reason is simple: I’ll never have my pre-baby body back—thank God.
Right now, I’m 11 weeks postpartum and my linea nigra is fading, but still going strong.
I’m one of the lucky women who have a linea nigra, a dark line, running across my skin from my pubic bone to up between my ribs. I use the word “lucky” with no sarcasm whatsoever.
Having this kind-of-thick dark line running along my skin is one of the most beautiful things that happened to my body during pregnancy. My mother’s line faded from my first pregnancy and I do expect it to fade completely after this one too, but it’s a dead giveaway that I just gave birth, no matter how taut or tight my belly appears to people looking at it through clothing.
Yet I can’t say that I’ve been in love with my postnatal body. (I did, after all, honestly Google the things mentioned above.) And I’m not proud of that, but I’m not ashamed either—because many women want their “pre-baby” bodies back, but we feel either guilty for admitting it out loud as we cradle a gorgeous new life within our new-mother arms, or we unhealthily obsess over it.
My yoga practice has actually been pretty amazing since giving birth.
But the first time I attempted crow pose—a posture of strong spinal flexion and abdominal lift that I couldn’t safely perform during pregnancy—I felt “clunky.”
I felt “clunky” and heavy as I tried to shoot my feet back into chaturanga.
Gone was the quiet floating of my pre-pregnancy days and, here, were the new ones of big toes kind of plopping down as I tried to get back in touch with my abdominal muscles.
And I mean that: my yoga practice after having a baby was all about “getting back in touch.” It was like a friend I hadn’t spoken to in months and we were catching up, but instead of talking about work or my kids, I was listening and communicating with my intercostals and my obliques.
And I’ve been getting on my mat every single day since about four or five weeks after I had my baby. I’ve been arriving for at least five minutes of daily core work and, typically, 20 or 30 minutes of some sort of flow sequence.
Yet the reason I’ve been doing these things isn’t related at all to my aforementioned Google searches, but to the simple fact that every time I get on my mat I breathe away not only my life’s stressors, but I realize that I love my body so much, exactly as it is.
I love my linea nigra.
I love my slightly loose skin.
I love the fact that my crow to chaturanga is getting lighter and stronger and I love that I can feel my body as it regains both flexibility and strength. But I don’t love these things every day.
Some days I just feel ten pounds heavier than before I had my baby.
Some days I can’t stand the slightly loose skin.
Some days I feel clunky in general, not just in crow pose.
But that’s the thing: my daily yoga practice has given me the power of getting in touch with where I am, right now, regardless of whether or not that’s where some silly celebrity blog says I should be or whether so-and-so still has ten extra pounds.
Because, when I’m on my mat, there are no arbitrary numbers—only me, Jennifer, new mother, strong-super-woman-who-attempts-crow-pose-after-pushing-out-a-baby.
On my mat, I’m all alone, like on a deserted island, while simultaneously being connected to the larger theme of life that makes anything coming up on a “post-baby-body Google search” a complete waste of time.
So, yes, I’d love to pretend that I’m perfectly content in my postpartum skin. I’d love, too, to imagine a world where women don’t feel some form of pressure to be fit. However, we live in a world where “post-baby body” is a completely normal catchphrase (and Google search).
But that’s not why I get on my mat.
I get on my mat because I want to feel good—and a huge part of feeling good is taking care of my body, because it houses my new-mother soul.
And I’m raising two girls now—I’m raising two little human beings who depend on my teachings for how they will look upon their own bodies some day.
I want them to know they can talk to me about concerns and insecurities, but I also want them to know that our bodies are so much more than numbers on a scale, or how strong or how flexible we are.
So, thank you, yoga practice for reminding me that I’ll never, ever “get my post-baby body back.”
Nope, it’s gone—because, actually, after I had my first daughter, I was healthier than ever before, having a brand-spankin’ new reason to get on my yoga mat every day, and her name was Gemma.
And now, as a new year dawns, my resolutions aren’t anything like, “lose that ten pounds of baby weight,” or “practice yoga every day.”
My new year’s resolutions are more like, “remember to breathe through the hurt and frustration,” and “fall in love with myself all over again every single day.”
And I do fall in love with myself every day.
Every day I fall in love with my willingness to embrace my flaws—especially the flaw of caring so much about my imperfections—and I fall in love with where I am right now.
And right now I’m a writing, blogging, stay-at-home-yoga mama machine who needs her yoga practice—and who is learning to love her body, without labels.
Photos: Author’s own.
This article was first published by elephant journal.