The “mum bod”: How to improve your postpartum body image
Is the “mum bod” good or bad? Body image is one of the biggest negative changes for mums after giving birth. Lack of time for self-care and being in “mum mode” mean 30% of mums don’t see themselves as sexual because of negative self and body image. Family members’ needs and desires, and even housework, are prioritised over their own wants and needs.
Not to mention popular social media adding to mums feeling the pressure after childbirth to quickly return to their pre-pregnancy body. It’s unrealistic.
FACT: Your body can take 12 months to recover from temporary pregnancy and childbirth changes, and some are even permanent.
Common body changes after pregnancy and childbirth:
- Skin discolouration
- Weight gain
- Sagging breasts
- Stretch marks
- Abdominal skin sagging and low muscle tone
- Wider vaginal canal and changes to sensations, lubrication and incontinence
- Varicose veins and haemorrhoids
The “mum bod” we imagine often includes a number of these common changes which we don’t associate as good or sexy.
As a world traveller, I’ve seen how beauty standards differ. I’ve seen larger women flaunting their assets in skimpy bikinis, confident to let it all hang out. Rolls, cellulite, thighs that touch, saggy breasts and all! But in Australia, we hide our bodies as soon as we have half a “roll”. I’ve seen the rise of fake beauty in Australia that doesn’t extend to other parts of the world. Fake eyelashes, fake nails, tattooed eyebrows and eyeliner, botox and lip fillers.
FACT: For those with a partner, there is extensive research that your partner’s view of you is completely different to your own! I’ve spoken to dads who love their partner’s post-baby body and some prefer the extra weight.
Is your body image creating unnecessary hurdles in your sexual relationship?
Low body image affects individuals and relationships. Girls are taught not to be overly sexual to keep themselves safe, leading us to hide our unique femininity and sensuality. Sensuality is something mums struggle to redefine after having a baby.
Sensuality is not embarrassing.
FACT: Owning your sensuality, body and self-image improves your confidence, productivity and energy. All things mums need to survive a day!
How to improve your body image after childbirth
1. Know your worth
Believe that you are desirable because you are. Every day stand naked in front of a mirror, give yourself a good look over and tell yourself something positive about what you see. Start with the easy areas of your body you already accept before moving to difficult areas.
2. Push the endorphins
Get moving and release endorphins through your body. You don’t need to rush out to a gym, just move freely. Do yoga, dance, chase the kids or even play twister. If you are in a relationship, and you and your partner have put on “comfort weight”, get off the couch and do something more active together at least once a week.
3. Buy shapewear and body support products
Some mums buy postpartum support products and shapewear for body image, and others to aid recovery. As much as I advocate for accepting your body as it is, I also advocate for wearing clothes that make you feel good about yourself. So wear whatever you like to support your body and mind as you heal and reclaim your positive body image.
4. Sensual Solo Play
Learn what your body is capable of and what you enjoy sexually to feel confident in communicating your pleasure needs to a partner. Boys are taught this at a young age, girls…not so much. Self-confidence is an aphrodisiac and comes from understanding who you are, what is important to you and taking ownership of getting what you want.
Make “mum bod” a positive reference to the amazing ability of female bodies to create and birth a human AND repair itself. Celebrate your body for its achievements and ongoing ability to support you and your family!
Written for Bubba Bump by
Vanessa Tarfon, Mmed(HSSH) - Sex Therapist and Founder -www.authenticawareness.com.au
IG - @authenticawareness