Love the Woman Within

"No scars to your beautiful, we're stars and we're beautiful.” -Alessia Cara

I am a c-section mother.

I struggled with this for a long time.

I felt inadequate, unsuccessful, scarred.

I was told that I didn’t know what real labor felt like, even though I gave it my all with my first-born.

I had no idea the trials that postpartum would entail for me both physically and emotionally.

After an induction, due to health-related complications, my first-born daughter got stuck in my pelvis, face up. I labored for 3 days and actively pushed for over 3 hours, all to wind up in the OR undergoing a cesarean section (c-section).

It’s funny, I had this beautiful birth plan all laid out, and then when reality hit, everything I planned went out the window and the only thing that mattered was getting my baby girl out safely.

After having my c-section, I was faced with an onslaught of opinions, judgements, and feelings about the whole situation I had been placed in. Even though I really had no other choice, (that’s the only way she was being brought earthside), many assumed I chose the easy way out.

But let me tell you, recovering from a c-section, and any delivery for that matter, is anything but easy. What we ask our bodies to do and accomplish is truly amazing, and as women, we are really the only ones that can carry such an amazing, gift-giving burden (sorry guys, you’re just not cut out for the job).

Failing a vaginal delivery left me feeling defeated and weak and the physical recovery sent me into a bout of postpartum depression. I was fortunate enough to have a strong support system through my husband and my mother to help me on my path of recovery, both mentally and physically.

Photo Credit Bushel and a Peck Photography

After my c-section, I took that outside judgment I was receiving and inadvertently channeled it into my self-image, and so a difficult but beautiful journey ensued on replacing my negative perception of my body with one of love and acceptance.

I found a few mental exercises and tasks that helped me reach this point of strength and self-love. Each day is a challenge, but if you set your intentions to adopting a positive self-image, I hope that you will be on the road to loving YOURSELF the way you deserve:

Loving Yourself Physically

I struggled physically for a long time, but came to find the following tips helpful in my journey:

  • It All Takes Time

I quickly realized that my postpartum journey was going to take time. I wasn’t going to “bounce back” like many women claim.

I was going to struggle standing, walking, coughing, laughing, holding my child, every physical act, until fully healed.

(Tip: If you’ve had a c-section, use the “pillow” rule, which means whenever you need to cough, sneeze, or laugh, hold a pillow over your incision to relieve the pressure!)

I will also say each labor is different. With Ava, I was induced, labored for a long period of time, then had a c-section. With Mia, I went into labor, noticed complications arising with the prior incision, and immediately had another c-section. Two completely different labors, which in turn, means two completely different recoveries.

With Ava I struggled for weeks, with Mia just a few days, every recovery is different.

Photo Credit Bushel and a Peck Photography
  • Have a Good Support System

My husband was very helpful during this time and pretty much just took over the parenting role until I could get back on my feet, literally.

I was so hard on myself initially for lacking in the mothering role, but then realized something: I LITERALLY had all my organs on a table next to me during delivery. I mean, it’s MAJOR surgery.

So, I realized I should stop kicking myself, accept the help that was given to me, and take the time to heal like my body was begging me to do. (If you’ve gotten to know me through my previous articles, you know patience isn’t a big virtue of mine, but I’m trying.)

So, call your mom, yell for your partner, text a neighbor or friend, and just get someone there to support and assist you through your recovery journey.

Photo Credit Bushel and a Peck Photography
  • Find a Good Accountability Team

After I had Ava, I just stopped going to the gym, mostly because that small child was so demanding of my time. So at 9 months postpartum, I joined a home-based workout program and became a coach and eventually created a team of my own: Motivated Mamas Society.

I lost that 70+ pounds gained during my pregnancy with Ava (and went on to only gain 40 with Mia), which did wonders for my attitude. Losing the weight I had been carrying during pregnancy and postpartum helped me physically. I had so much more energy, and I began to like what I saw in the mirror!

Everyone tells you that home-based fitness is lonely and lacks accountability. I would say this is normally true, but only if you don’t have the right support system and team to hold you accountable. My team checks in consistently, reminds me to hold my head up high and persevere, and to appreciate how amazing I am!

It’s a rewarding thing to have such an amazing team to turn to when the going gets tough.

Photo Credit Bushel and a Peck Photography
Loving Yourself Emotionally

This one I struggled with WAY longer than physically.

On the exterior, I have the scar, I have some stretch marks, but inside I was carrying a whole heck of a lot more.

Within these tips, I could mention all that the outer forces did for me emotionally, but the REAL work was what I had to do for myself on the inside, because your own personal thoughts often dictate how you feel about yourself:

  • Positive Affirmations EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.

If you tell yourself nasty, hateful things, you will begin to believe them. Try saying out loud what you say to yourself internally. Sounds horrible, doesn’t it?

What you tell yourself is pivotal in loving the woman within. Take care of her, tell her she’s beautiful, tell her she did great today, tell her she’s the best mom around, tell her she deserves a break.

We live in a self-fabricated world of guilt, telling ourselves we aren’t enough, but flip the script and start telling yourself you are just ONE person and accomplish great things all the time!

Look in the mirror each morning and say: “Today is going to be a great day and I am worth it. I am beautiful. I am loved. I am needed and appreciated. Today is going to be a great day.”

Positive affirmations positively impact your emotions.

  • Remind Yourself What You’ve Accomplished

Repeat after me: I LITERALLY GREW A PERSON INSIDE OF ME AND GAVE BIRTH.

That’s pretty phenomenal, right? You have literally created LIFE.

No matter how your child came earthside, you gave birth, and there’s so much to be said for that.

So, when you are looking at a few stretch marks on your body leftover from pregnancy, know what you accomplished and who you’ve accomplished it for.

Those little stinkers that destroy your house, eat everything in sight, and argue with you about the silliest things, well, they are worth it (even if they do drive you insane, daily).

  • Dress and Act How You Wish to Feel

I tend to wear sweatpants more than any other type of clothing. But then I started to feel like the clothes I was wearing: baggy and worn out.

So, I make a point of taking a shower every single day, putting on REAL pants, and even applying a little makeup to feel more like a human being.

Those that work within the home often take the ability to go unseen for granted. Put on some real pants, woman, and tell yourself you look FABULOUS.

We act how we feel and look, so look good!

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Each day will be different. Some days, you will be totally in love with yourself. Other days, you will feel beaten down, but making the effort through positive affirmations, dressing up like you’re a real person, and seeking the support of a welcoming tribe will help you to lead a life of self-love and accomplishment.

My scar is a daily reminder of the amazing things I have done. I created life and brought it into the world. I am raising it and get to make wonderful memories with that life. And for that, I am extremely lucky.

My scar is a beautiful reminder of what I am in this world and what I strive to become.

Your scars don’t define you; they define an amazing moment in your life.

Photo Credit Bushel and a Peck Photography


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