Just after giving birth to my third child, when the nurse finally gave me the go ahead to use the restroom, I did what I have done now twice before. I closed the door, stood in front of the mirror, and lifted my hospital gown to take a peak at my belly.
Having been down this road before, I knew, all too well, what to expect. I was aware that there was no chance that my belly had magically shrunk back to it’s pre-baby state, and what’s more, I knew from experience, that it likely wouldn’t anytime soon… but still I had hoped for a miracle.
I have now carried, and given birth to, three beautiful babies in less than four years time. My belly has been stretched to capacity, shrunken down, and then stretched to the max again. The number on the scale has fluctuated in ways that I never thought possible, and my body has changed more than I ever could have imagined.
I know deep down, that in regards to my postpartum self, I should have that “tiger who earned her stripes” mentality about the faint lines that now meticulously line my belly from the stretching and contracting that it has endured over the last few years. I know that I should embrace that fact that my hips have grown wider in order to birth my children. I know that I should accept my softer tummy for what it is… but when I look in the mirror now, I don’t exactly get excited about the added weight that I currently see upon my frame. The amount of hard work that I know all too well is required to lose it, seems daunting at best. Feeling proud about the body that I have been left with at this point isn’t always easy.
So many people preach about how you should love your body after having a baby. That you should go easy on yourself. I don’t disagree one bit, the thing of it is though, I don’t dislike my postpartum body, but I’m not necessarily in love with it either… and that is totally okay… I don’t have to love it, what I do need to do is accept it and embrace it.
My body may no longer be what it was before I became a mother, but here is what I know…
My belly is softer because it has housed, nurtured, and sheltered my three beautiful blessings.
My now less-perky breasts have fed and nourished three children, two of them beyond their first year of life, and one who is currently still going strong.
My thicker legs have become stronger in order to endure the extra weight that comes along with being pregnant.
My hips are now slightly wider, because thanks to the miracle of life, three children have made their way into the world through them.
If I look in the mirror after all of this and don’t appreciate my body for what it has done and what it is capable of, then shame on me. I may not love the way that it looks in its current state, but I most certainly love it for the job that it has done and for what it has given me. Sometimes when you stop to count your blessings, you realize that little things like having a flat tummy or fitting back into your favorite skinny jeans, aren’t really what’s important. What’s is, is knowing what you are now capable of as a mother, and loving that about yourself instead.
As hard is it might be at times, give yourself a little bit of grace… What you have done is remarkable, and regardless of what you see in the mirror, YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL.
In the spirit of honesty and learning to accept and love our postpartum bodies, I have asked a few of my friends to share some of their feelings about their own postpartum bodies, and I would love for you to join in and comment too!
“I knew there would be changes. OF COURSE my body wouldn’t be the same after carrying my beautiful girls. I gained over 50 pounds each time, but the weight was distributed so differently the second time around. The aftermath is my mom belly. I jokingly call it my ‘melly’, but it’s hard some days. I look in the mirror and I have a gut. I now dress to disguise it, because sucking in doesn’t always do the trick. As I slowly get back on track with working out and making healthier choices, I try to remind myself that there was a baby in there, and it doesn’t make me less beautiful.” -Patricia, Life of a Minister Mom
“One of my least favorite things about my postpartum body is my hair. After my first child, it wasn’t so bad, but after my second there was lots of postpartum hair loss, and zero regrowth. My hair is really thin now, and I’m totally self conscious about it. Otherwise, I’ve always been at an okay place with my body. Never loved it, never hated it, just an okay place. I always had good hair though, it was long, and thick, and pretty, and now, not so much.” -Chanel, Life with Henry and Evie
“Oh the postpartum joys… Most will dislike what happens to their body after birth, others will embrace it as battle wounds and stripes earned. I would have to say that after having two kids (my first at 34 and my second at 36), my skin is not as ‘supple’ as it used to be when I was in my twenties. As a woman who had her children at an older age, I would have to say that my least favorite part about my body now is my tummy. I still have that line that goes down it, and some loose skin that I am hoping to work off this summer. My favorite part of my body at the moment would be my legs. They seem to have stayed strong and lean, thank goodness!” -Kim, The Lavender Ladies
“I don’t like the extra skin in my tummy area after having a baby, but I’m trying to embrace my new mommy look. No matter how hard I work on it, it isn’t going away… so I have been working on my legs, because they are showing improvement and muscle tone. It’s all about little celebrations an successes!” -Jenna, Espresso Ever After
“My least favorite part of my body after having kids would have to be my tummy. The extra skin that still seems to be there even though my youngest is two now. My favorite part of the postpartum phase, would have to be the breastfeeding boobs. Not only did they nourish my babies, but they looked pretty awesome during those months of nursing. Now that I am done nursing, they don’t look quite as nice, but I do like my arms. Before having kids, I never considered myself to be strong. I’ve always been lanky with long, kind of awkward arms, but carrying around two almost 35 pound toddlers makes me feel strong, and I love to show off my arms now. -Jessica, A Monkey and His Mama