Congratulations, mama. You did it. You grew a human (and an organ). You birthed that tiny human (in whatever way he or she was meant to enter this world). And now you get the awesome opportunity to raise that human. What a lifetime of opportunity and what an incredible responsibility. It is now up to you to show this little one all the good that the world has to offer, all of the incredible things he or she is capable of, and all of the ways love can show itself in the everyday moments. And do you know where your babe will seek that information first? From his or her perfect mama. That’s right. You. Are. Perfect. Exactly as you are now, in whatever shape or size you are now. No matter how sleep deprived you are. No matter how emotional you feel on a daily basis. No matter how much baby weight you put on. No matter how quickly society tells you that weight should drop off. No matter what size jeans you want to get back into.
If you take anything from the following words, please know that you are perfect, and that you have an opportunity to see and love yourself as your baby does, and to take the same care to NOURISH yourself as you nourish your sweet new baby. And with that, sweet mama, here are five oh so crucial reasons why it is imperative that you nourish yourself in this postpartum period.
- If you are trying to lose weight, let’s make it metaphysical. Somewhere along the line, women were taught that to be worthy, we need to take up less space, be smaller, suck it in, lose weight. What if we took a moment to focus less on losing the physical weight shown on a scale, and instead, to lose the metaphysical weight of a constant concern with our size or the food we put in our body. Imagine for a moment that when you eat a meal, you breathe, sit down, and enjoy each bite filled with nourishing ingredients you crave. When that meal is done, you move on. You enjoy the moments between meals without guilt, shame, or stress about your physical size or the number of calories consumed. You rid yourself of the weight of constantly carrying around the burden of viewing food and the weight it does or does not add to your physical body. It’s freeing. It’s lightening. It’s magical. When we see our bodies as more than the physical, when we decide to allow ourselves to take up physical space, when we love ourselves at whatever weight we exist at now, we lose so much of the negative weight that comes with needing to be small, needing to fit someone else’s standard, needing to be less. Be more, mama. You. Are. Magic.
- Micronutrients matter. Healing takes time, energy, and FOOD. When it comes to the foods we choose postpartum, quality does matter. Every time we eat, we have an opportunity to love ourselves with food. I challenge you to look at swapping out sugars, processed food, and vegetable oils for nourishing fruits and vegetables, real food fats, and high quality protein not through the dense of restriction but instead, as a gift to yourself. Our bodies are so wise beyond what we give them credit for. We crave for a reason: namely, malnourishment. Can’t cut the cookie habit? Instead of shaming your body for asking for a cookie, tune in. What is it really asking for? When we eat processed foods day in and day out, it can be so hard to listen to our bodies’ wisdom because we’ll just reach for what we know, and sugar is as addictive as a drug. When we start swapping that cookie for real food, deeply nourishing foods, allowing plenty of high quality fat to be a part of every meal (think coconut oil, butter, avocados, grass fed meat, pastured egg yolks), choosing real food over processed marketed junk (think fresh, local fruits and vegetables), we can tune in, listen up, and serve ourselves from a place of love. And you know what happens? Our bodies take note. Cravings subside. We find energy. We find bliss. And we’re so much more likely to see food as love and to be in alliance with our bodies, not at war.
- Food is a daily chance for self care. And sometimes, it’s one of the only ones in those early postpartum days. Imagine that each bite you take in a day is actually an opportunity to love yourself, versus a moment to judge your body, feel guilt, or simply take no notice. We get a choice with every bite: love ourselves, mind and body, with nourishment, pay no mind at all, or worse yet feel remorse. Why not choose to love? From the time we are little, so many of us as girls are taught to count calories, choose low fat, feel hungry, fear food, and be small. It is time that changed. It is time we take up space, nourish ourselves deeply, and love ourselves with the food we put in our bodies. Choose real, delicious foods. Seek out nutrients. Refuse to count calories. Savor the flavors. Nourish deeply. Better yet? Ask others to cook for you. I can assure you others want to jump in and love you too. It’s ok to say yes to help. It’s ok to eat until you’re content. It’s ok to hand the baby to your partner, mom, sister, friend and take time to nourish yourself. It’s necessary for you to love yourself NOW more than ever, because how can you love on that new little soul if your cup (and belly) isn’t filled up first?
- You are quite literally your baby’s entire world. Your child comes into this world seeking one thing: love from you. In the quest to find your love, your baby soaks in your energy. Ultimately, in time, your baby will see you the way you see yourself. And the reality is that this will someday play into how your baby sees him or herself. Restricting food, crash dieting, shaming your magical body, or under appreciating all that your body is NOW will impact the way your baby sees you. To your baby you are PERFECT right now, moments after birth, you are his or her everything. Weeks after birth, you are his or her everything. Months after birth, the same. What more important judge of character could we ask for? Not yet jaded by society’s opinion of beauty. Not yet exposed to the crash diet industry filled with foods and advertisements to make us feel less-than inside and out. Not yet exposed to anything aside from his or her own mother’s energy, life force, and opinion of herself. Why not take an opportunity to maintain your self-worth and act as a mirror for that little one for not just months, but years to come, focusing on holding space, not shrinking in it? Some might see this as extra pressure, but perhaps the perspective can shift to an opportunity: an opportunity to show our babies how important it is to love ourselves. An opportunity to show our babies how to cherish themselves not in spite of society’s judgement of our bodies, but rather because of what our bodies are capable of in all of their beauty and magnificence.
- Finally, remember that you have just created magic. I mean a magic unlike any man will ever know. Celebrate that. Own that. Replenish that magic into your body with nourishment. When you birthed that baby, it was magic yes, but it was also VERY hard work. Your body did something great, something incredible, but also something oh so depleting. Now is the most imperative time to rebuild those stores so that you can show up for yourself and for that new life. Now is the time to revel in the magic you’ve created. To eat all of the foods you crave. To continue with that prenatal. To eat nourishing foods. To let others love you with gifts of food. To rebuild the magic inside with the foods that nourish deeply and fully. The thing is, mama, that you will never get your pre-baby body back. It will now and forever be better than ever before. And one way to celebrate this new body is to feed it.