How to Start Loving Yourself So Your Child Can Too

Posted on in Healthy Living by Judy Tsuei

Why Mothers Need
to Be Mindful of Their
Body Image Talk


The three of us walked up Sleeping Giant mountain on Kauai in Hawaii. We each held a baby girl in a front pack. As I stepped over an exposed root under a lush canopy of trees, one mother announced, “I am having such a hard time losing this baby weight.” The other mother chimed in. “Me too! I’m trying to watch what I eat, but I also want to keep my breast milk up.”

They looked at me. I subtly covered my daughter’s ears. “What have you been doing to lose weight?”

I shrugged. “The weight just kind of came off naturally.”

Except, here’s what I really wanted to say, yet didn’t quite know how to express: “Please, please let’s be mindful of what we’re saying in front of our daughters. How we talk about ourselves becomes how they talk to themselves. Having suffered from an eating disorder for over 15 years, I do not ever want my daughter to spend one day suffering the severe body image issues I went through. Instead, I want her to feel empowered to live her fullest light in this world.”

Since that hike, I’ve become much more adamant about speaking up for new mamas—and young girls—everywhere. My hope is that by empowering mothers to develop a healthier inner dialogue, we can also cultivate stronger inner voices for our children, their friends, and the generations to come.

Unfortunately, these are all-too-common quotes from a recent stream on Facebook:

I’m the heaviest I’ve ever been since being pregnant, and I hate it.

I’m afraid I’m going to be ginormous before my third trimester.

I feel disgusting and shameful. I have such low self-esteem. I spent 20 minutes crying like a teenage girl in the bathroom.

“I have a mixed experience with these groups,” says nutrition therapist, author, and founder of Jenna Hollenstein. “Anytime you have women coming together and serving as resources for one another, it’s a wonderful thing. And then sometimes, I see these threads of people trying to lose those stubborn last 15 pounds without affecting breast milk supply. How can these wise, talented, funny women have this blind spot that makes them work against their bodies?”

How do we move from body loathing to body love?

“One way could be to start to surround yourself with messages and images that are consistent with [this new way of being],” Jenna advises. “Every body responds to pregnancy, breastfeeding, and the postpartum period differently. Rather than being at war to manipulate our bodies, we can see what a miraculous feat our physical selves accomplished by creating and giving life, however that unfolded, and all that it continues to do.”

For many, meditation is the key to loving ourselves when other modalities fall slightly short. Glennon Doyle Melton, founder of, shared that while she relied upon books and extensive therapy to achieve self-love, nothing has helped her so much as the simple exercise of going to a little corner in her house, sitting on a pillow, breathing, and being quiet.

“That’s what meditation teaches us,” she said, “to just to stay in our body and every time our mind drifts off, we bring it back, and we bring it back. . . . Just like there’s a life of the mind and a life of the soul, there’s also a life of the body. Before, I was just missing out on a whole third of my life, and I just don’t want that anymore.”

Meditation can play a substantial role in fostering healthy self-esteem during this evolution of womanhood in pregnancy and the postpartum time, especially as women are experiencing a powerful transition in life and body. By nourishing presence, grounding, and connection to an Infinite Source within and around us, we become more attuned to humility, grace, gratitude, and loving-kindness—especially for ourselves.

Meditations for new mothers must fit into our days, because if it becomes a practice that you beat yourself up about, then it becomes counter to helping. Here are additional ways to integrate meditation into your moments. Sometimes, a moment is all you have:

Realize that a meditation can happen in a parking lot, waiting at a stoplight, in the few minutes of solo time before bed, or even while pushing a stroller.

For new mamas especially, cultivate a meditation practice while your baby is nursing or feeding. By relaxing, you can also enhance breast milk production.

If you’re feeling isolated and need connection, make time for that. Begin setting healthy boundaries now to model for your baby. Even a few minutes of mindful conversation with a friend can make a substantial difference in your mood.

Motherhood is the ultimate yoga practice. What better opportunity to grow beyond what we believed capable of to inspire unconditional love for ourselves as much as for our children.

Judy Tsuei is a new mama, author of Meditations for Mamas: You Deserve to Feel Good, and whole-hearted coach empowering new mamas to love their bodies like never before.

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