Body Image after Baby
Since the birth of my daughter in late November 2020, I’ve been trying to take a few minutes every few days (or at least once a week) to journal and write out what I’m feeling. When I became a mom for the first time with my son two plus years ago, it was imperative and so helpful for me to read other mothers’ postpartum journeys and feel like I wasn’t so alone. My goal in sharing my thoughts and feelings during this period is to hopefully do the same thing for other new mamas. Below is an excerpt that I wrote down yesterday. Thanks for reading and please share with any new moms that may need to hear they aren’t alone!
1.10.21: There is so much “body after baby” talk on the internet – on both sides of the spectrum. Half of the noise being that “you too, can bounce back and here’s how…” or “you need to appreciate your body because it just created a life and don’t worry about non-important things such as your appearance…”
Well, what if what I feel is neither of those…but somewhere in the middle? A body after baby purgatory you could say.
Being that Scottie is my second baby, I feel like I am better prepared for how my body will respond postpartum and when I can expect my physique to get closer to where it was before I became pregnant. Based on my first pregnancy, I’m expecting it to take at least one year. If I’m being totally honest, I actually didn’t even lose all of the pregnancy weight by one year with Shep, but at one year, I did feel more comfortable and confident in my skin and most importantly felt more like myself than I had the prior two years.
One the one hand, I do have moments of giving myself grace and truly appreciating my body for what it has done and is still doing. I am grateful that I was able to carry and deliver our two children. I’m grateful I was able to become pregnant. These things I do not take for granted, and many days I’m able to see past the new tummy rolls and not give them another thought.
On the other hand, there are definitely days that I find myself really bummed with the appearance of my body. That feeling of disappointment later morphs into guilt for feeling that way, and that I’m selfish and conceited for caring so much about it. I look at myself in the mirror each day and see how much wider my hips are, how much thicker my stomach is, and I hate getting dressed in anything other than yoga or sweat pants. I bought jeans two sizes up after about five weeks thinking that’d be a safe bet – but they’re still really tight and feel super uncomfortable. I weigh myself once a week to see where things stand, and the number stopped moving down as of a couple weeks ago. Now I’m at the point where I’ve lost the bulk of what I was going to lose post-delivery naturally, and I know that if I want to lose more I’ll have to make changes to my diet and exercise regime (which is virtually non-existent). I should be grateful, because I have lost a majority of what I gained with the pregnancy – but I’m still ten pounds up from my starting weight. Ten pounds doesn’t sound too bad at six weeks postpartum until I remember that my starting weight was ten pounds up from what I weighed pre-kids..so now I’m looking at twenty pounds up from my “usual.”
But what is my “usual”? Is that even a number that I should be trying to attain? Is that a fair benchmark I’ve created in my head? The answer is, I’m just not sure. I know it sounds like I’m a debbie downer when it comes to my body image – but I’m just trying to be honest about the thoughts that come and go – because I have to imagine most women feel the same way at some point after having a baby.
I guess what I’m trying to get at and what I’m trying to tell myself is – it is okay to feel both ways. It’s okay to feel good about yourself one moment and not so good another. I’m working on getting my inner dialogue to be kinder to myself during those moments in the mirror, while at the same time working to come up with a realistic plan to help myself feel strong and healthy. I’m trying to be better about eating more nutritious food and being active a few times a week. In the past I’ve tried the endless cycle of getting into an extreme diet and workout plan that I would eventually burn out on. My hope is that if I can treat my body in a more healthy way – my mind will follow.
If you’ve had a baby – did you feel the same way? What helped you overcome those thoughts in your head? Please share below if you’ve had anything work well for you and we can share with our MFM community!
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