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Body Image in the Postpartum Period

 Women’s Health Occupational Therapy O’Connor (Fremantle area)


Body Image Struggles Women Face in the Postpartum Period

Women are more likely to struggle with body image in the postpartum period. Pregnancy related weight-gain and weight loss during the postpartum period can be a major concern for some women.

Postpartum pressures

Unfortunately for many women, getting back into shape in the postpartum period can be a real struggle. .This is why getting more support in the postpartum period is essential for women to be able to attend to their self-care and feel better in their bodies.

As a mother of a new born it is common to be chronically sleep deprived, being time poor can mean not eating, exercising or resting enough. These stressors do not help the post partum recovery journey. A good reminder is that it took nine months to grow a baby, and we are starting to realize that it can take up to two years to fully recover from carrying and birthing children. That’s a long time, and for some women that healing process can be really challenging. You are not alone. 

Love and Acceptance

The reality is, a women’s body will never be the same after birthing babies; it literally cannot go back to ‘pre-baby status. What can change is how we view ourselves and the type of pressure that is put on “getting one’s body back”.

Loving our post-baby body is a journey and requires self-acceptance. If you goal is to lose weight for a health reason, then absolutely, go for it. But when that goal becomes an obsession, it is time to seek help from a qualified professional like a women’s health occupational therapist. If you struggle with anxiety, low mood or post natal depression it may beneficial to see a mental health occupational therapist or a psychologist.

Ways to support self-acceptance

Suggestions for self-acceptance in the postnatal period would be to;

  • Surround yourself with like-minded people that promote positive body image.

  • Find health professionals that can help you to achieve realistic health and fitness goals within realistic time periods.

  • Follow social media influencers who post real images about what a postpartum body actually looks like – the excess saggy skin, the stretch marks, the cellulite, the no longer perky breasts etc. This is a real-life Mum-bod. There’s nothing wrong with these so called “flaws” either – they are part of being human. 

You are not alone

Body image can affect our self confidence and happiness in life. It can affect relationships, work, exercise and leisure. Feeling empowered after birth is an essential part of post partum recovery and beyond. If you’re wanting to embark on your health and fitness journey but don’t know where to start, a womne’s health occupational therapist can get you started and support you along the way.

Carleen Ginter provides Pilates OT, stress management, help continence and more..

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