Unless you have genes worthy of supermodel status, you’re going to have a belly pooch those first days (or even weeks) after your baby is born. You can’t expect something that was stretched that far to snap back like a rubber band overnight. Even though this is completely normal and expected, it can bother a new mom to no end. (Who wants to still look pregnant after all those months?) To make your belly less obvious, hold your baby front and center. A newborn works as a great shield against tummy views.
A baby carrier can also mask the muffin top—even if you pull the baby out for a second to visit with Aunt Suzy, you can leave her sling or pouch hanging casually over your shoulder (and tummy) until it’s time for her to slide back in. Plus, any time you’re holding a baby, regardless of where she’s positioned, that’s where the attention is going to go. You could have horns growing out the sides of your head, and very few people would notice if a cute infant is cradled in your arms.
[tip:] Comfort counts.
Yes, we all want to look good. But even more importantly during this time, you’ll want to be comfortable. You’re tired, hormonal and probably a good bit overwhelmed—the last thing you need is a pair of jeans cutting you in half. Even if you’d rather give birth naturally to quintuplets than slip into another pair of maternity pants, you’re not doing yourself any favors by forcing your body into too-small clothes. All you’re really doing is setting yourself up for a miserable day.
Repeat after me: There is nothing wrong with wearing maternity jeans for comfort’s sake. In fact, today’s hip, modern jeans completely mask the fact that the denim you have on is made for growing mamas. It’s also made for shrinking mamas. So find a pair of non-maternity-looking maternity jeans and wear them happily. Nobody will ever know—and even if they did, they wouldn’t think any less of you. We promise.
[tip:] Take care of yourself.
Ever heard the saying “nine months up, nine months down”? In spite of the dramatic celebrity weight loss that splashes the cover of tabloid magazines every week, most real moms don’t lose their baby weight in a matter of weeks. And no matter how much those extra pounds drive you crazy, there’s no reason to diet for at least six weeks after you’ve given birth.
We’re not saying to sit on the couch with a bag of Doritos—healthy snacks like fruits and veggies, moderate exercise when your body is ready for it, and lots of rest are the best way to help your body naturally recover its pre-baby shape.
[tip:] Keep your head up.
True story: Three days after I gave birth to my son, my 5-year old daughter had a softball game, and it was her turn to be team captain—an honor that rotated between players at each game. And of course, there was no way I could miss that game. So I swallowed my pride, pulled on my least offensive maternity clothes, and limped my way to the bleachers (which were complete agony three days postpartum, but that’s another story).
Surprisingly, no one cringed when they looked at me or commented on the size of my rear, which was considerably larger than it was 10 months before. The truth is, people understand pregnancy is a process that continues its effects beyond the birth of the baby.
Give yourself time and don’t let it get you down—you’re just like every other mom in the world, adjusting to the massive change that your body has just gone through. You may have more weight on your frame than ever before, marred skin and hair loss by the handful, but you know what? You’ve never looked more beautiful. Motherhood simply brings out the best in all of us.
[tip:] A little effort goes a long way.
I’ll be honest—I sometimes go days without putting on makeup. (Not because I have an infant, just because I don’t have a girly gene in my body.) But the days that I do take the time to throw on some mascara and lip gloss, I somehow feel a lot better. Particularly if someone shows up at my door, which happens quite often when there’s a new baby in the house.
It might not be a universal rule, but for the most part, you feel better when you look better. So spending a few minutes to put on some makeup might make you forget all about those 15 pounds you’re carrying around. Makeup definitely doesn’t make the mom, but it sure can make the mom feel a lot better.
[tip:] Take 20 minutes of “me” time.
There are 24 hours in a day, and every single one of those revolves around the new baby in your life. In the name of your sanity, you must take a minimum of 20 minutes every day to do those things women take for granted before giving birth—like showering and brushing your teeth. It’s also perfectly acceptable to ignore the growing pile of clothes in the laundry room and check your e-mail instead of washing while the baby is napping. Squeezing in some time just for yourself every day leaves you refreshed and ready for the rest of the day. You have a big job, so you deserve a break that’s just for you. Take one!