Loving Your Postpartum Body

To the mothers who don't like what they see in the mirror:

I can't say it enough.

Your body is amazing.

Amazing. Awe-inspiring. Perfect even in its imperfections.

Your body grew a baby. Stop and think about that for a minute. Your mother grew you. Her mother grew her. Every single person in this world grew inside of their mother. It's ordinary and every day, but in every way this is extraordinary and once-in-a-lifetime.

You grew a baby. Somehow, magically an egg met a sperm and from that moment you were doing the most important thing in the world. Your uterus, which is normally so small, grew to be the biggest, strongest muscle in your body.

Somehow your body delivered this baby. It worked and stretched and let the baby out to take its first breath, to experience this life.

Loving Your Postpartum Body

It is so easy to feel sad about how your body has changed. Stretch marks. Loose skin. Weakened abdominal walls. Looser, softer breasts. That line that may run the length of your belly. That cesarean scar that will fade but always be there. Some extra fat around your middle. Your hips that widened to make more room to deliver a person into this world.

I know it sounds cheesy. I know you probably know all of these things intellectually. But try to really know them. Because, really, your body is amazing.

When your baby was born, not only had your body just done a very physical feat, your mind and your heart grew to accommodate this little person. Your belly was still large but infinitely softer now. A perfectly lovely pillow for your baby to lie on.

Days later, your breasts probably reached epic proportions and milk began flowing. Your breasts and your body are still nurturing your baby. Even after your baby grows and weans, you can still celebrate that your body did that.

Do your best to thank the work your body has done to provide for you and expand your family. Look at those stretch marks and remind yourself that they are proof of the work your body has done. Give your muscles time to grow back together and strengthen. They might never be the same, but nothing about your life is the same as it was before, and likely, you wouldn't want it to be.

When your milk is gone, your breasts may never be the same, but they have served their most important purpose. They have swelled and shrunk repeatedly, filling with milk and then filling your baby with milk. This is amazing.

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Your body is amazing. Do your best to love it. Do your best to be healthy. To honor the work it has done.

Your babies will always love you. They've never known your taut, unblemished belly or your perfectly perky breasts. They love you as you are. And so should you. And so should your partner. And so should every other mother you come across, who knows the work you have done. And so should we all.

Your body is amazing.

Your body as it is now is how it should be. A little softer. A little more lived in. A little more loved.

Your body is amazing.

Center photograph taken by Lauren Preti