1. Celebrate your scars and stretch marks
Many new mums can struggle to feel confident when the skin they’re in feels different. That’s why the My Skin My Way campaign by Venus is all about real women learning to love their real bodies, and sharing their stories on how they achieved acceptance. Real women like Kyisha, who absolutely didn’t want a Caesarean section scar – you can see her story above.
It’s all too easy to focus on what you might think are flaws, be they stretch marks or a Caesarean scar. But instead of thinking of these as imperfections to be hidden away from the world, learn to celebrate them as badges of honour that show both how amazing your body is, and what it’s been through.
So instead of worrying about stretch marks, think of them as ‘tiger stripes’ instead. You’ve earned every single one of them in the heroic task of growing a small human and safely getting it out into the world. Or switch to thinking of a Caesarean scar as a magical doorway to your baby’s first home!
This a basic Cognitive Behavioural Therapy technique, which can help you manage problems by changing the way you think and behave – you might not be able to change the situation, but what you can change is your attitude to it.
2. Don’t cover up
When your body confidence has taken a beating, the temptation is to cover up – out of sight, out of mind and all that. When everything feels different, one of the first steps towards learning to love the new you is getting to know what it looks like. You might want to keep a wobbly mum tum or sagging breast-feeding boobs under wraps, but letting it all hang out can be a fast-track to confidence.
So instead of getting undressed in the dark, or deliberately avoiding the mirror, let the light in. See yourself, and you’ll soon teach yourself to embrace the body you have now.
3. Give it time
As with many life-changing things, getting used to your post-pregnancy body will take time. Try not to put pressure on yourself to shift baby weight or look a certain way. Your body has just achieved something incredible so it might feel different for a while.
Get to know what makes you feel pressured or bad about yourself and take steps to manage it. For example, scrolling through Instagram is rarely going to make you feel better, so delete the app for a while and instead read a book or watch a feel-good film.
4. Speak to REAL mums
Some people are absolutely brilliant for building your confidence, while others really aren’t, and this applies both online and off. While there are absolutely loads of supportive groups on social media – and they’re particularly useful during those lonely middle-of-the-night feeds – there are also plenty of trolls out there who seemingly love nothing more than telling you just how wrong your parenting is.
If you’re finding you feel worse after a quick scroll through your news feed, then resist the urge to open the apps when you’re in need of human connection – text another new mum mate instead, or give them a call.
5. Make the best of your best bits
Pregnancy and childbirth can leave your body feeling absolutely ravaged. But instead of focusing on this, identify the parts of yourself that do make you feel confident.
You could also treat yourself to a new bright shade of lipstick, a flattering pair of jeans or a new haircut. A little bit of something new can give you a whole new lease of life!
6. Talk to your partner
When you’ve already had nine months of a growing body that is still going through changes after the baby is born, it’s easy to feel less like yourself. A partner who knows the pre-parenthood you, and has been by your side throughout, can really help you feel more like yourself.
Confide your feelings in your partner, and actually listen to their reassurances. And while sex might be the last thing you fancy, you can still be intimate by sharing kisses and cuddles to keep you feeling close to each other and know that they still find you sexy.
7. Go shopping!
It’s called retail therapy for a reason! If all your old clothes just look and feel a bit wrong, treat yourself to some new pieces that make you feel good and fit this new phase of your life. You don’t need to spend loads – in fact, it’s probably best not to while your body is still settling into its new post-baby shape – but even a couple of bits from a charity shop or the supermarket can boost your mood.
We’d love to hear how you embrace your post-pregnancy bod. Let us know in the comments section below!This article was brought to you by Venus, which is working to empower women to celebrate their skin and its “imperfections”. To feel confident, beautiful and empowered to do whatever you want with you skin. It’s up to you how you shave it and show it (or not). To find out more, click here.