It’s Okay Not to Like Your Postpartum Body

By: Shannon Fisher, And Now I’m A Mom

Alright mamas, it’s time to talk about it. We face it every day. It’s amazing, it’s magical, it’s maddening, it’s stretched, it’s different, it’s life-giving, it’s wonderful, it’s earned, and it’s frustrating.

That’s right, it’s our postpartum body. Nobody gives birth and then immediately looks like they did pre-pregnancy, so we’re inundated with two types of articles as we’re spending our few free moments scrolling the depths of social media. The first, is that your new body is basically an eyesore and you must diet and workout constantly until it returns to it’s original state.

Yeah, sure. In the words of Ariana Grande, Thank U, next.

The next type of article is that we need to love and cherish every inch of this large, stretched out squishy belly, because, well it gave us our baby. And let’s not forget the “other women would dream of having a postpartum belly, be thankful what you have” posts (Which yes, is true, and I am in no way taking away from that. But that doesn’t mean we’re not allowed to not be happy with ours).

Now, I get it. I’ve been a strong advocate for body positivity for years, and yes, you should love your new body. I truly believe we should work on and focus on self-love and self-care every day, but that’s just not always the case, is it?

I love what my body has done for me, and I am eternally grateful. But. That doesn’t mean that I’m thanking my stomach every time I have to lift it over the waist of my pants to pretend they fit.

I am thankful that I was able to carry my beautiful healthy daughter for 9 (or 10?) months, but excuse me if I don’t weep with joy when the sweat pools between my delightful belly rolls.

Thank you belly rolls,  for you are a product of my daughter. Thank you, entire wardrobe that no longer fits, because now I don’t need you anymore, for now I understand why moms wear leggings and sweatpants- and I’m so grateful to be a mom that it’s totally ok. 

I’m sorry, but no. Absolutely fucking not. I can love and be thankful for my daughter while simultaneously missing my old body. I can be grateful for the pregnancy I experienced while mourning a large portion of my self confidence, which seemed to disappear around the same time as my ability to wear backless dresses. (Also, where the heck does a new mom wear a backless dress?)

Would I love to feel nothing but love as I squished my handfuls of belly in the mirror? Sure, who wouldn’t? But let’s be real. It’s hard to feel a lot of love for your new belly when nothing in your wardrobe fits you anymore and your silhouette has much more, shall we say… shape? Alternatively, would I love to be doing yoga and exercising regularly, while maintaining a healthy, calorie reduced diet? Yes, I would. Am I going to? Probably not.  Like my first thought after pushing a watermelon out of my vag and then not sleeping for months is exercising, and not, you know- sleeping. Nope. I’m going to nap. I’m going to eat snacks. And I’m going to enjoy my ice cream after a long-ass day, and I’m going to indulge in that creamy pasta because goddammit I want it and I deserve it.

It’s  lovely thought, to be able to either start exercising right away. Or to just love and cherish this new body that gave you your child. But I don’t think it’s realistic. This shit takes time. It takes energy, and it takes commitment. You know what we’re spending that time, energy and commitment doing? Being a new mom.  And you know what we don’t hear enough? It’s okay not to like your postpartum body. Gasp!

There, I said it. And I’m going to say it again.

IT’S. OKAY. NOT. TO. LIKE. YOUR. POSTPARTUM. BODY.

Not liking how you feel in your new body does not mean you love your child any less. It does not make you any less grateful, and it sure doesn’t mean you feel any less sympathy for women who can’t carry children.

It simply means you’re not this saggy, stretched out belly’s biggest fan right now, and that you also don’t really have the energy or great desire to do anything about it for the moment. That’s life. Own it. Vent to your mom friends about it, and how your belly jiggles in so many new ways that it could take someone’s eye out. And do it, while treating yourself to that ice cream sundae and loving every. Single. Bite.

Did you know there are Mermaid fitness classes in Toronto?

Aqua Mermaid Toronto – Review by resident Mommy Blogger – Shannon Fisher, And Now I’m A Mom

I’ve said many-a-time, to many-a-people, that if I could perform my day to day tasks while being in water, I would. And I meant it. So when I was offered the opportunity to try out a mermaid fitness class with Aqua Mermaid, there was absolutely no hesitation before saying yes, and then quietly humming the Little Mermaid song to myself. I was vaguely familiar with the concept of mermaid fitness, but I couldn’t have told you anything real about it, and I didn’t know something like this was possible here in Toronto, especially for newbies like me. I was super excited about fulfilling my lifelong dream of becoming a mermaid. 

I didn’t really know what to expect in terms of class size or structure, but when I packed my bathing suit and towel and headed out, it turns out I also didn’t know how much traffic I should have predicted. Refreshing my google maps every 5 seconds while my husband took as many side roads as possible, I started to panic that I was going to be late, and I wouldn’t get to wear my tail. I awkwardly changed into my bathing suit in the front seat of our SUV, and waved at a guy who couldn’t stop staring at me while I was changing into my top. Angry at myself for not leaving earlier, I called the number for AquaMermaid and asked how bad it would be if I arrived just at class start time, instead of the recommended 15 minutes early. I was happily reassured that it wasn’t an issue at all, and I breathed a sigh a relief knowing that I hadn’t messed everything up. (But this doesn’t mean you should also show up late- that 15minutes would be key with a larger class!)

We pulled up with two minutes to spare, and I rushed through the change-room, whipped off my clothes and headed out to the pool deck, expecting to see a full class of women waiting for me in their tails. Instead, there was simply the instructor, and two gentlemen happily chatting away holding onto what looked like flippers, but would unroll to reveal the tail. I was originally taken aback by the small size of the class, but it didn’t take long for me to appreciate the ability of the instructor to be able to keep the class personalized to our wishes and capabilities. I also loved the fact that is was men, and not just women who wanted to be mermaid for a day. One mentioned it was his goal to be like Zoolander, and he instantly got my respect. 

I got the fin on, and boy, was I excited! I stuck the fin in the water as I sat on the edge of the pool, and eagerly smiled at my husband as he snapped away with the camera, my daughter playing with a small floatie in her car-seat nearby. We then had to take the fins off again to learn some of the basic moves before adding the extra difficulty of essentially, having only one giant leg. Brianna, the instructor, made her fin-less dolphin kicking look graceful and flawless as she used her entire body to glide through the water, and when I tried, felt- and looked- more like a dolphin who had somehow made it’s way onto land and didn’t know what the hell to do. Luckily for me, there were only a couple of manoeuvres like this, because I sucked at them all and I just wanted my tail on. I got my wish and the three of us shimmied back into the long, glorious tails- mine pink, of course. Repeating those same initial manoeuvres but with the tail made a world of difference, and getting to glide so swiftly like that under water is something I have never experienced before, and I loved it. I felt like I just wanted to swim under water forever and never come up for air. If I had regular access to a pool, you better believe I’d be buying a tail. (You can actually own your own mermaid tail!) We were casually taught a few basic moves, like using our arms to propel us (which turns out to be a major arm workout), and swimming with our tail both face up, and face down, before moving onto some enjoyable (and instagram-worthy) tricks, like handstands and fin-high-fives. 

Everything was pretty relaxed, and the instructor just followed our lead to allow us to learn skills we wanted to, have fun, and have pictures taken all the way throughout. I felt like I was super unskilled, but afterwards in talking with Brianna I learned that many of the trial classes don’t attempt some of the stuff we did, or even venture out into the deep end- which we did almost right away. In my attempt to do a dive off the side into the water, I thought I would never even make it pulling myself out of the water, and flinging my body beached-whale-style up over the side. I made it though, it was amazing, and I’m sure it was super graceful. We ended our class with a group-choreographed synchronized routine that was completely random, but also awesome.  Once the class was done, I chatted with Brianna a bit to find out more about the classes they offer, and what they’re like. There are drop-in classes, for people like me who are new and looking for something cool to try, and there’s also packages for weekly classes, which are geared more towards the fitness aspect. AquaMermaid has been around since early 2015, combining the love of water, exercise, and all around fabulousness. The founder, Marielle Chartier Henault has done an incredible job of bringing forward this wonderful and unique option for a workout choice, and AquaMermaid is now offering classes not just in Toronto, but Montreal, Ottawa, Quebec, Edmonton, Chicago Las Vegas, Fort Lauderdale and Phoenix. Classes are offered for kids and adults of any gender, and just about any age- as long as you can swim independently. But if you’re looking for a new way to spend some time on a Saturday, or are trying to add some flavour into your workout routines, I highly suggest giving these classes a try, no matter what your age or gender- as long as you can swim, you’re good.  Worst case scenario? You get some cool photos wearing a mermaid tail at the end of it, because let’s face it- if it’s not on Instagram, did it even happen? 

For more information and to sign up for classes, go to www.aquamermaid.com