I remember the virgin experience of seeing my very first postpartum body in the mirror of my hospital room's bathroom. I was in my hot pink maternity tank top, those wretched net shorts (complete with a maxi-pad stuck to them) and was like, "What the hell just happened here?!" My legs looked and felt like sausages. My C-section scar stung and it was equally painful to look at the bandaged slice on my belly.
But right then I made a choice to screw it all and 'bounce back' despite what my eyes were seeing. Because bouncing back after baby isn't all about the body (I can say that for sure now, two elementary school aged kids in). No, for me, 'bouncing back' meant I was going to feel better in my postpartum body come hell or high water. Or, as my mentors in the entertainment biz used to tell me, "Fake it 'til you make it."
So below are a few tricks to fool yourself into feeling better after baby, from the inside out. Sure, the tactics that made me feel better might not work for you... but don't knock 'em 'til you try 'em. Because when it comes to anything involving babies, you never know what wacky tactic is going to work until you give it a shot. Once you find what works, do not let it go.
Early in my pregnancy, I remember watching some random video online where a celebrity swore that a postpartum belly wrap would shrink inches from the waist in days after having a baby—or something along those lines. I figured, why not?, and I tried it.
I can't speak to solid scientific findings about this (ie: whether or not my mid-section compressed faster than it normally would've had I not worn the wrap) but I will absolutely tell you how in control and secure and supported it made my body feel—not mention how it oddly comforted my C-section belly post-surgery. It was like a back-brace and tummy-hug all in one.
Wearing it (for 40 days & nights, I kid you not) made my body feel stronger and more capable of moving without pain. Wearing that wrap also fueled my energy and movement as a brand new mom because my insides no longer felt 'floppy.' You know how weightlifters wear those belts to help them do their thing? That was me as a new mom. Will it work for you? I can't say—but it worked for me.
No, I didn't do anything crazy like use a tanning bed, but I knew firsthand about the undercover power of tinted lotions, creams, and powders: Let's just say an old-school pageant trick to help one look more fit in a swimsuit involves being heavily bronzed.
Fun Fact: Bronzing makes your arms look 10 lbs thinner and your face look more defined—just ask a Kardashian. I nabbed a Jergens tinted lotion that first trip to the grocery store post-baby and never looked back. It seems so shallow, but using a self-tanner made me feel a bit more healthy, sexy, and happy in those early days. (And hey, don't judge the pageant thing—my senior year of UCLA tuition was paid by pageant scholarship money.)
Do not underestimate the power of making your joints feel good on a daily basis. Forget heels (even though you might be tempted to slip them on to prove you've still got it post-birth—I get it), a new mom's body needs soft cushion and full-on support.
Putting on my sneakers every day—especially in those first few months—to get the job of motherhood done around my house (with baby, household duties and beyond) made me feel grounded and capable. You can't run a race in heels, and I sure as hell wasn't going to try! Comfortable, supportive shoes boosted me physically and mentally. And if you can move faster around your house, that totally counts as cardio.
Celebrity stylist and fashion designer Rachel Zoe once told me in an interview that wearing all black became her go-to wardrobe choice post babies.
"It doesn't show stains and if something spills on you, you can just wipe it up fast!" I took her advice to heart, and she was right. Wearing all black made me feel edgy, modern, on-trend and sleek... even though most parts of my body still felt foreign and/or in pain (hello, C-section scar). And, feeling like I was even a little bit chic—just like Rachel!—didn't hurt my postpartum ego either.
Even though I wear lots of makeup for my job (on TV) I really don't bother with makeup for the days I'm not working—and I certainly didn't bother with makeup after I'd just had my first baby! However, I soon noticed that not seeing myself with lip color or mascara was starting to subconsciously take its toll on my self-regard.
So, I hung a huge mirror in my kitchen and started keeping basic makeup (lip gloss, powder, mascara) in my kitchen's junk drawer for easy access. Taking one minute (literally) to swipe on gloss, mascara, and powder in my kitchen made me see myself in a whole new light instantly. "There I am," I remember the lift in my spirits that first time I made the effort.
Keeping the basics in the room I spent the most time in, so I had them at immediate reach, made me smile from the inside and feel more like myself from the outside. So if cosmetics were a big part of your pre-baby routine, try this tip.
Dr. Kat Van Kirk, clinical sexologist and marriage and family therapist says many women suffer from irrational thoughts, anxieties and worries after baby, primarily due to hormones. From fear of getting pregnant again right away to experiencing postpartum depression or even jealousy over the attention your husband gives to your baby and not to you, not only are these thoughts normal, but something to forgive yourself for, Kirk says.
"Try to let it go," she advises. Remember that many of these stressors will not last forever, and the more attention you give them, the bigger they will feel. "To feel sexy again, you have to get out of your head and into your body."
Your mother-in-law has been begging you to take care of the baby for an afternoon—so let her. You might be feeling uneasy about leaving your babe alone, but remember: you have to make time for yourself again. With those sleepless nights and tightness from stress and worry, a massage will do wonders mentally, and sensually.
"Self-care that will help you relax and remind you that you're not just a mom," Kirk says. Plus, you just carried a baby for nine months, then delivered it—you deserve it.
Jill Simonian is Founder of TheFABMom.com and Author of the new book for first-time pregnant moms, The FAB Mom's Guide: How to Get Over the Bump & Bounce Back Fast After Baby. Connect with her on Twitter &;; Instagram.