I want to talk about women's bodies. Bellies, boobs, butts, even thighs, arms, and backs. It's all affected by pregnancy, nursing, a...
I'll be the first to admit that looking at my body after each baby was totally depressing. Each time there was that shock, oh my god will all this skin go away? My boobs, belly, and thighs were covered in bright pink stretch marks. Would they fade? And after weaning both times, staring in the mirror at tiny, deflated flaps of skin that used to be boobs was horrible. I allowed myself a moment to grieve each time. And then I kept going. I bought bras that fit and shirts that were looser around the waist to hide my "mummy tummy", and I exercised. Oh man did I exercise my ass off. After Sebastian, I did P90X until I injured my shoulder and was unable to do a single push-up. I ran so much after having Oscar, that I hurt my knee to the point I couldn't continue exercising (see previous posts). Now I firmly believe that if I'd taken my time getting in shape then I would have avoided those injuries. All of my joints and ligaments were still way too loose from hormones to be exercising as much as I did. I knew it was happening too because each workout meant pain, either during or after, in every joint, especially my pelvis after Oscar. But I ignored it. I would not use having a baby as an excuse.
In reality, a little baby weight should be the least of our concerns after having our abdomens stretched to the max and giving birth. Whether you birthed vaginally or by c-section, you have some serious healing to do! And what do the doctors tell you? 6 weeks! You'll be fine, you can do anything after 6 weeks! LIES! Such a harmful fucking lie. Instead they should be saying, rest! Go for walks, do gentle yoga. Spend time with your newborn, who in the blink of an eye will be all grown up and you'll be wishing for another baby just for those precious baby moments. 6 weeks needs to be at least 6 months. And they should give you a list of physical therapy exercises to help strengthen your hips and pelvis. And if you experience any pain in your joints when you try to workout, you should wait! Carrying around a couple extra pounds of flabby skin for a few more months isn't worth a bunch of injuries. Trust me on this. Not to mention, your body will still not be exactly how it was, so if that is your expectation, you'll still be disappointed.
So I have to ask you momma, do you like feeling this way about your body? Do you enjoy that society or whatever has made you feel so shitty about what's happened to your body, even though what happened was a completely natural part of life? No, of course not. No one likes feeling like crap about themselves. So don't you want it to change? I know I do! So how can we change it? By one smart decision at a time. Don't make your decisions about your body so rashly. Give yourself time, and I mean years of time, to heal. Remind yourself that what you went through gave you a beautiful human being that was well worth the damage. And try to feel proud instead of depressed. So what if you're saggy and have stretch marks everywhere? You have a child! Do you know how many women can't even have a child, or struggle to do so, and we're bitching about some loose skin? Think about that for a moment. Next time someone you know makes a comment about post-baby bodies that makes you feel shitty, don't be afraid to speak up. Remind that person that there is nothing wrong with the fact that our bodies change from having a baby. They should change. And we should be proud of that change instead of sad. Changing our view of ourselves is the first critical step. Then we really should be trying to change society's view on this. After all, do you want your sons and daughters to feel like shit about themselves? Of course not, you want them to be confident individuals who take good care of themselves and don't listen to the bullshit from the rest of the world. If you want them to learn that, you have to model it. It's the only way.
So mommas, take care of yourselves, that includes being nice to yourself, in all of your thoughts and actions. And significant others, be supportive. I'm so thankful to have such an amazing human being like Brian as my support. He's never once said a mean thing about my body, and has always encouraged me to feel better about myself. If you're eating healthy and doing gentle exercise when you can, nothing else should be expected of you. Especially not your own unrealistic expectations.
About author: Melanie
Mother, wife, web developer, writer. I blog about my life as an anorexia survivor, depression battler, being a mother to 2 boys, 1 with NF1, living healthy, and much more!