Improving body image and self-esteem in the postpartum period

Poor self-esteem and body image can affect us all. It can be triggered at any time and when we least expect it. While it may be an intermittent experience for some, others might experience it for prolonged periods, which in turn can impact our mental health and how we perceive ourselves.

Women going through postpartum are particularly vulnerable to this due to the immense changes causing the body to change. It’s important to understand why you might have these feelings towards your body and seek out methods that can help you deal with it healthily. Here’s what you need to know. 

About postpartum 

Postpartum refers to the time after having a baby. This period can be critical to a woman’s wellbeing after giving birth and it’s important to look after yourself and seek the support you need. 

The likelihood is that you are tired and sore, which can lend itself to not feeling like your usual self. Add the responsibility of looking after a newborn and it’s fair to say that postpartum is tough for many women.

During this period women are typically in pain and experience bleeding. Alongside this, there are hormonal changes to contend with, which can cause mood swings. Once the bleeding subsides, it’s common to experience itching and discomfort while healing occurs.

Some women experience ‘baby blues’, also known as postnatal depression, during this period. According to the NHS, one in every 10 women is affected by postnatal depression in the year after giving birth. Fathers and partners can also suffer from this, so it’s important for everybody to look out for one another.

Some symptoms to look out for include:

  • Persistent sadness and low mood
  • Lack of energy
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Withdrawing from other people
  • Struggling to look after yourself or your baby

It is important to flag these symptoms sooner rather than later to prevent them from getting worse over time. Having open communication with your loved ones can be hugely beneficial. Fortunately, there are projects, support groups and other resources for women experiencing postnatal depression.

Body Image and self-esteem after giving birth

Something that can result in women having a tough time during postpartum is body image and self-esteem.

Some changes you may experience after giving birth include:

  • Weight gain
  • Changes to skin
  • Hair loss 
  • Leaking bladder

To help with this difficult period, you should limit the amount of time you spend on social media, which is known to have an impact on people’s self-esteem. 

Simply getting up and ready for the day can make a big difference to people’s moods, to the extent that many people treat it as an act of self-care. Some women who experience hair loss also decide to use hair thickening spray to help cover up patches of hair loss while their hair regrows over time. 

Ultimately, it’s important to acknowledge how amazing your body is – dealing with pregnancy and giving birth isn’t something that should be underestimated. You could integrate wellness activities into your daily routine so you don’t lose sight of how incredible your body is. For example, you might write down daily affirmations or write in a journal to help you navigate how you’re feeling.

On top of this, look after yourself by eating well and doing gentle exercise where feasible. This will help you feel better and simultaneously boost your mood and how you perceive yourself.

The most important takeaway is to not be too hard on yourself. You and your body have brought a new life into the world!