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Navigating the Complexities of Postpartum Body Image: A Guide for New Moms

In the latest episode of the Coffee Witching Hour, I took a deep dive into a topic that holds a special place in my heart – postpartum body image.  Check out the transcript summary below, and listen/watch on YouTube or Spotify.

Navigating Life's Phases: Unpacking the "Maiden," "Mother," and "Crone" Archetypes

In this episode, I mention the "Maiden", "Mother", and "Crone", three archetypes that represent the distinct phases of a woman's life. Let me explain the Maiden archetype signifies youth, innocence, and the beginning of a woman's journey, whereas the Mother archetype is the embodiment of fertility, and nurturing and symbolizes the transformative experiences of childbirth and motherhood. Finally, the Crone archetype represents the wisdom and maturity that comes with age.

These archetypes are obviously oversimplistic and not a perfect representation of all women's life stages, but I've thought about them a lot, especially in my second postpartum experience. Because the words have been on my mind so much, I've used the language here.

Embracing the Sacred Journey of Postpartum Body Image

So, before I get deep into the complexities of postpartum body image, I want to emphasize a fundamental truth – the transition from the Maiden to Mother state is nothing short of sacred. Society has conditioned us to fear the changes that come with pregnancy and childbirth, but it's time to reframe our perspective. These changes are not just okay; they are to be respected, revered, and honored as part of the miraculous journey of creating and nurturing life.

Prenatal and Postpartum Body Image After An Eating Disorder

Let me share a bit about my personal experience. As someone who battled an eating disorder for years, I understand the pressures and stigmas attached to body image, especially when it's tied to the culture of competitive sports. For a long time, I believed my worth was tied to how fast I could run or how little I weighed. It took years to unlearn these damaging beliefs and discover that my true worth runs far deeper than the numbers on a scale or a stopwatch.

Challenges of Weight Scrutiny in Pregnancy: Breaking Societal Norms

Entering my first pregnancy, I knew body image would be on my mind. The constant weighing at OB/GYN appointments triggered memories of weigh-ins for track and cross country. The emphasis on weight gain during pregnancy, whether too much or too little, added a layer of shame and scrutiny that I found unsettling. Despite my best efforts to let go of these damaging expectations, my weight seemed to be constantly on my mind during pregnancy. It made me wish OBs and midwives had been trained to better understand the dynamics of respectful care when body size or weight falls toward the edges of normal ranges.

Silver Linings of Pregnancy during the Pandemic: Escaping Unsolicited Comments and Touch

Fortunately, my journey through my first pregnancy was during a unique time – the pandemic. This allowed me to avoid some of the unsolicited belly rubs or comments on the size of my growing body, offering a reprieve from the external pressures that many expecting parents face. However, the narrative of "bouncing back" after childbirth loomed in the background, a pervasive myth that deserves dismantling.

Defying the Norm: Creating a Culture of Respect for the Postpartum Body

Now, postpartum is where the magic truly unfolds. Contrary to the dominant narrative, I find myself in awe of my postpartum body. This podcast has been a long time coming because the prevailing discourse tends to focus on the struggle to regain a pre-pregnancy body.

I'm here to share a different perspective – the profound appreciation and love I feel for my body after bringing life into this world. Postpartum brings changes, both physical and emotional, that I didn't fully grasp until I experienced them firsthand. The realization that my body can nourish a baby and that breasts are for anything other than the male gaze were ones that I thought I should have known but that I didn't truly internalize until seeing the changes in my own body.

Unexpected Realities – Internalized Ageism and Insecurities in Postpartum

A surprising aspect of postpartum for me was the aging process. The lack of sleep, hormonal shifts, and the demands of motherhood made me look and feel older. This brought up insecurities and fears, not just about the physical changes but also about entering a new phase of life – my thirties.

Rediscovering Beauty Rituals: Self-Care or Just Harmful?

Amid these revelations, I rediscovered the importance of self-care. The revival of wearing makeup, dressing up, and indulging in beauty rituals wasn't about conforming to societal standards but a return to practices that make me feel good from the inside out. It was a journey back to self-love and acceptance.

As I continue this postpartum journey, I am mindful of the transitions that lie ahead – from Mother to Crone, the archetype of the older woman. Internalized fears of aging and the unknowns of this transition are challenges I am navigating with curiosity and an open mind.

Postpartum Beyond the Myth – Forever Changing, Forever Respected

Postpartum is not a phase that we leave behind three months after giving birth; it's a state we carry with us forever. The societal pressure to "bounce back" to a pre-pregnancy body is unrealistic and ignores the profound changes and wisdom that come with motherhood. Our bodies, having birthed and nurtured life, deserve reverence and celebration.

Celebrating the Miracle of Life – Embracing Postpartum Body Image

Thank you for joining me in this exploration of postpartum body image. I hope my experiences resonate with some of you and inspire a shift in perspective. Let's collectively embrace the sacredness of the postpartum body, celebrating the incredible journey of creating and nurturing life.

If you liked this episode of the Coffee Witching Hour, please like and subscribe if you watched it on YouTube. If you listened on Spotify, please like the podcast and give it a 5-star rating. You can support all of my creative work through my new Patreon page. Thank you all for following me on this journey, and let me know what you'd like to hear next!

Friendly disclaimer: This transcript summary was co-authored by AI. To hear my real human voice and emotion, please give the podcast a listen!



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