Society and the media often view our postpartum bodies as weak and flabby. It is not only expected that we WILL “get our bodies back” but it is also expected that we want to get our pre-baby bodies back right NOW. Lifestyle magazines devote entire editions to watching and tracking new celebrity moms for weight loss and speculate how quickly they will return to their pre-baby body. If any celebrity mom should take a little too long to get back into screen-worthy shape after childbirth it becomes headline news. I want you to see your body as more valuable than a commodity and front-page fodder.
It doesn’t matter if you’re 200 pounds or 130 pounds–bodies are beautiful, strong and multifaceted. I’ve always had body issues, but been very confident on the outside. After children, I felt like I had completely let myself go. It’s very hard to make yourself a priority when you have kids. With my daughter I was induced on my due date and labored for 47 hours and 41 minutes before she finally arrived. With my son I labored for 60 hours. I kept begging the midwife to let me go a little longer… a little longer… a little longer. She let me go another 10 hours and at 6 am on his birthday, she said I had to go for the C-section. Best thing we ever did. I was very impressed with my body! However, while not making it a priority, I let it go. Now, it’s my turn for rebirth! –Amy, mother to two ages 6 and 4.
Every time you catch a glimpse of yourself in the mirror and turn the other way or you hide out from the camera, I want you to remember your body is a powerhouse. Embrace it. Don’t ignore the newness of it–how it looks and feels. This is the skin you are in now. You aren’t who you were last week. Let the camera capture where your child came from. Show how much you loved them with your whole body, not just your heart.
I didn’t gain too much weight while pregnant. I was active the whole time doing yoga and walking and went back to my pre weight almost right away. I’m 41 and in a great place in my life where I don’t care much what other people think. I have one boy, born three days early. It was a fast labor—he was in a hurry and still is. He was walking at 10 months. Some heart distress at birth and there was talk of an emergency C-section but in the end he came out on the third set of pushes with suction. I love my body after childbirth. It was the first home of this incredible little person—it made him and fed him. I have new respect for it and will never abuse it again, only nurture it. –Linda, mother of one age 1 year.
Use kind words to describe your body. Not just in front of your kids, but to yourself. In that early morning hour before you step into the shower and you look down, please think loving thoughts about what you see. Remember to be grateful to those powerful legs that helped you carry the extra weight as your body grew. Give thanks for the way your hips shifted to make more room. Nothing and everything may look the same. Your child is a part of the beautiful body that created it. Would you ever look at your child and say or think they are less than gorgeous? Please don’t think that about yourself.
Being photographed “naturally” scares me. My inner critic feels ashamed that I haven’t kept up the shape I had two to three years ago. So my thoughts of myself get pretty wicked: “stop eating so much”; “your arms look awful in those pictures”; “need liposuction on those thighs of yours”; “if only you didn’t like food so much”.
I have boy/girl twins. They are our miracle IVF babies. My husband and I went through a lot and we were finally blessed with my son and daughter. After hating my body and being so heartbroken and devastated at not getting pregnant, I totally fell in love with my pregnancy. I was so healthy and happy while pregnant. I know it’s vital that I show inward and outward love for my body because I have a daughter. I don’t want her to see or hear me getting down on myself. I want her to always feel beautiful and confident and I know that starts at home. –Melissa, mother to twins age 3.
I want to show my children and myself how amazing the female body is–also to view my body in a different way. [I felt] pressure to get back into shape quickly. Though it took nine months to gain weight, I should be more gentle with myself. [It’s] pretty amazing how your body can swell, organs move, ligaments become stretched and loosen all to accommodate a life and create a placenta and cord to feed it. Only to return to a somewhat normal version again after birth–and multiple times! Also, to provide nourishment, protection and antibodies for months afterward is amazing. My body is pretty strong, capable and amazing. -A.S., mother of two boys ages 3 and 8 months.
If we can see the power within ourselves, perhaps it will start a movement. Maybe together we can shift the perception of the mom bod from being a flabby, worn-out body to an intrinsically competent being. If we can celebrate in awe the amazing feat of childbirth and what our bodies can do then perhaps our children will look at their own bodies with awe and wonderment. And thus starts the movement.
The Whatever Mom
Body Beautiful Part I
The Whatever Mom is a twin mom learning to let go of perfection. She shares her real life struggles with parenting through her blog and contributes her time and talents as a writer to Hudson Valley Parent and Masshole Mommy. When she isn’t writing you can find her chugging coffee, folding laundry and not judging other parents. Don’t forget to subscribe via email so you never miss a blog post again! You can also find her work featured on Mamapedia and The Novice Mommy.