How to Love Your Post-Baby Body: Celeb Mum Alison Canavan Shares Her Tips 6 years ago

How to Love Your Post-Baby Body: Celeb Mum Alison Canavan Shares Her Tips

‘We all need to learn to love the body we are are in because it's the only one we have.’

I have to be honest, after I gave birth I felt like an imposter in my new body, waiting for my old body to return. I naively thought that as I was a model and had never had any weight issues, my body would pop back into shape post-birth. My Mum had five kids and always seemed to shed any baby weight pretty easily, so I should have nothing to worry about, right?

Wrong! The body I had handed over for nine months as a baby-making machine was now all out of shape and I felt a bit like playdough that needed to be molded back to its original form. I had stretchmarks and cellulite where there was previously none. It can be hard to accept, but just remember that your new body has created a miracle, given birth to a miracle and, believe it or not, left behind a miracle and that miracle is you. You need to respect the miracle in all its glory, big, small, stretchy, not so stretchy anymore and give yourself a break!

Just think about what our little miracle machines do:

  • You share your energy
  • You share your life with your baby
  • You create a heart to love
  • You create little lungs to breathe
  • You create your baby’s first home
  • You’re creating the future
  • You’re creating a mind that can change the world

I lost the initial baby weight quite quickly, but I really struggled with the last 10 lbs or so. We are all different and we will all have different stories, but one thing remains the same: we all need to be kind to ourselves. After I gave birth it was the first time in my life I really cursed my career choice because as a single mother my income depended on my body size (not on my feelings) and with no maternity pay, I had to get back to clothes-horse size pretty quickly. I use the term clothes-horse here because during this time I really began to realise how ridiculous my job can be sometimes and how much pressure I place on myself. But please listen because I was the crazy new mum that did crazy things so you don’t have to.

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Learning to love my post-baby body was the first time I had ever consciously loved my body. I now respect my body, which was something I certainly never did before. I thought about how much I cherished and nurtured my body with a baby growing inside it and wondered why I didn't feel that way all the time, especially when the baby came out. The fact that I would always put someone else first, especially my baby, was very telling about the nature and journey of motherhood. Just look at how any animal protects its young – there is simply nothing you wouldn't risk or do to protect your newborn, even when it's inside you. It’s natural to protect both your unborn child and your newborn, but we have to make the space to protect and mind ourselves too. If you don’t create that space for yourself, you’ll become exhausted and resentful and those feelings will threaten you and your family’s happiness. It benefits everyone when you take a sensible approach to parenting and ‘me time’.

It took time, baby steps and a lot of hard work but I have now learnt to love and respect my new body. It was difficult, but I think it’s probably difficult for every woman. It’s all too easy to wear the slouchy clothes, eat the sugary foods and tell yourself it’s for the good of your baby. That will be fine for a few weeks, but inevitably it will catch up on you and you’ll find yourself with low energy, up-and-down hormones, bad skin and weight gain. Those things will in turn make you feel awful about yourself, and you might well try to drown those bad thoughts in ice cream, chocolate or wine. It’s a truly vicious circle. The good news is, you have the power to smash through that circle right now and change how you feel. So I’m giving you permission to congratulate your body and give it some R&R, feel free to take it for naps, rub cream on it, wear comfy clothes and you can even take it out for a few hours or on a day trip to a spa for some treatments. Why? Because you deserve it!

I often hear mums say (and indeed I said it myself), ‘I wish I had my pre-baby body back’, but can you honestly tell me you didn't moan about your pre-baby body, too? Once you have given your body time to really heal and recover, then you can begin getting used to your new body and learn to love and accept it.

Alison Canavan is a health and wellness expert, parenting columnist and motivational speaker who has devoted her career to nutrition, health and wellness, with a strong focus on mental health. Her new book Minding Mum is about making the choices that suit you and that make you happy. With chapters on nutrition, exercise, post-natal depression, mindfulness, beauty tips for busy mums and much more. Buy a copy here

Main image via Mango