It's okay not to be head, over heels
When that warm, squishy bundle of baby finally arrives you may find yourself more in a state of shock, than one of love or admiration. It's ok. She’s your baby, but she’s also a little stranger. Many moms feel intense pressure to immediately express their undying love, but it’s alright if you just need to pump the breaks. When my daughter was born I thought she was an amazing, alien creature. I was in awe of her, but I didn’t love her. I just needed time. I promise when the dust settles, when you have the time to heal and the space to get to know each other, that love will grow rapidly and develop roots so deep that they wrap around your heart and squeeze it just tight enough so that you will forever feel a little out of breath.
If you're planning a vaginal birth, take a "before" selfie...
Growing baby bump photos are a popular phenomenon. It just feels natural to want to document the incredible shape shifting female body and the seemingly magical feat of that always growing baby. I'm all for cute bump selfies. And amid those cute shots, I also strongly advise you to take a picture of your vagina and store it away on your hard drive. Many of us don’t survey the equipment down south often enough for us to really KNOW what we're looking at. Vaginal births require healing and oftentimes, closer observation then you were anticipating. Having a “before” photo for reference will keep you from scratching your head, or asking your clueless partner; was that red spot, dangly bit, or bumpy area there before? A pre-birth vagina pic will assuage your concerns! Or, it may alert you to something that hasn’t healed right. Armed with confidence and visual proof you can get help from a healthcare provider. Oh and a bonus tip: before you give birth, schedule an appointment with a pelvic floor physiotherapist 6 - 8 weeks after your due date and keep the appointment, vaginal birth or not.
Loving your body doesn't have to mean liking your body
This is a tough one. Certainly it's no shock to anyone that our bodies should look different after pregnancy, and yet we moms still have a rather difficult time adjusting. I was caught unawares at how soft and jiggly my stomach felt once its tiny boarder had exited, and my organs began the slow migration back to their former posts. Although I dodged stretchmarks with an obsessive moisturizing routine, it did not prevent the flaccid skin from gathering at my midline. My breasts looked different depending on the hour. First swelling to unimaginable proportions and then bagging out like misshapen socks retired to the hamper. No, in the aftermath of baby I distinctly did not like my body, in fact I hardly recognized it.
We are quick to shout messages of body positivity at new mothers, but that strategy feels as though it misses the mark. We forget that it takes time to adapt to the newness of just about anything - be it a new city, or a new job, and so it should be with a new body. So I say, continue to be shocked about the way it all looks, but don't stop showing it love. Your body has grown another body, AND more than a temporary house to your children, it has been a forever home to your soul. My body nourished and protected my daughter for 273 days and safely carried me through life for 11,400 more. It deserves all my love. Loving my body meant honouring it with slow and tender care as it healed. It meant nourishing it with the best and healthiest meals I could muster. It meant carving out time to soak my tired muscles in the bath and do a gentle oil massage afterwards. These small acts of kindness to my foreign body are what brought her back to me and helped me inhabit her again.