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More Like “Me”: 3 Tips For Reclaiming Your Pre-Baby Body

Having a baby is like becoming a new person. Before, you lived for yourself, but now another human being’s life depends on your care. The shift in identity is dramatic, but for many women, it’s easier to adjust to than the physiological impact of childbearing.

Bearing a baby results in significant bodily changes that go beyond baby weight, and it can be hard to bounce back from the experience, especially if you’re also dealing with post-partum depression. That’s why, if you’re a new mom, it’s crucial to take some time to focus on yourself.

These three strategies, big and small, can help you feel like yourself again as you care for the new life you’ve brought into the world.

Be Patient

The number-one thing every new mother should remember about her post-baby body is that it will take time to look like your old self; much more time than the media would lead you to believe.

After all, you’ve just put your body through nine months of serious physical stress. You need to be patient with your body it as it puts itself back together.

If your body has still not bounced back from pregnancy after several years, and your self-esteem has taken a hit, you might consider getting an abdominoplasty, breast lift, or other cosmetic surgery. After breastfeeding, for example, the breasts can lose fullness or begin to sag because of skin stretching, while the pregnancy created fat deposits that make you self-conscious.

It’s best to wait at least a year after your pregnancy to pursue abdominoplasty or liposuction, because it takes time to lose weight and tone your body, and the natural route is safer. Breast surgery can take place three to six months after you finish breastfeeding or three to six months after your pregnancy if you aren’t breastfeeding.

Eat Well

Delivering a baby is exhausting. You’re sleep-deprived, visitors stream in and out of your house, and maybe you’re breastfeeding.

Though there’s not much you can do about sleep during the first few months, eating right can help counterbalance some of the effects of new motherhood. Focus on nutrient-dense, high-protein foods such as nuts, yogurt, and eggs; and of course, make sure you eat plenty of fruits and vegetables.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help. For example, many new mothers are greeted by casseroles and other quick meals brought by friends and family who want to be helpful. Don’t hesitate to be specific about your food requests. Your friends really want to bring food you’ll eat and enjoy.

If you’re trying to balance getting enough calories with losing the baby weight, let your friends know. Cutting back on fats and carbs in favor of protein and veggies?

Request healthy meals like veggie frittata or easy-to-eat snacks like nuts and mini carrots instead of traditional comfort foods like lasagna or mac and cheese. They’ll be happy to comply.

Get Dressed

It’s tempting to stay in your pajamas for weeks after a new baby arrives. It’s hard to leave the house, you’re constantly tired, and you’ll probably get spit up on your clothes anyway.

However, getting dressed can boost your confidence and make you feel more like yourself. Don’t worry if you have to buy a few new outfits. Your maternity clothes may be too big now, but it will take time before your old clothes fit again.

Pick up a few outfits that make you feel confident and comfortable and embrace those new curves for now. You might be surprised how much better you feel once you’re out of your pajamas.

Hardly anyone looks like a supermodel right after giving birth, no matter what the post-baby pictures of celebrities suggest. But that doesn’t mean you have to be a pajama-clad slug on your couch with the baby.

Find a middle road that gets you dressed, moving, and back to your life. Just because you’re a mom now doesn’t mean you no longer get to be a vibrant, beautiful woman.