This was my postpartum body just after delivering my 4th baby last summer. I posted it on my personal Instagram last year to remind me of how I felt in that moment, when I was filled with amazement, emotion and love for the magical moment I had just experienced as a mother giving birth, so as to resist the urge to feel the postpartum pressure of not looking like I just had a baby, after just having a baby.
July 31st, 2015. “You’d think after 4 babies, the mystery and amazement of a woman’s body recovering from childbirth would be old news to me, but it never disappoints. I took this photo at the hospital Wednesday, just 24hours after Lily was born to remind myself that on the day I felt the most beautiful as a woman, the most strong as a mother, the most loved by an adoring husband, my physical body appeared the most out of shape, ‘ugly’ and ‘disfigured’ to worldly standards that it’s ever been. I wish for myself and for my daughters to always remember that true beauty is living in the truth of what beautiful really is. #postpartum #selfiestrong #BLANQIbeauty ”
There can be an expectation that immediately after having a baby, our bodies should instantaneously go back to it’s pre-pregnancy weight. I believe that this pressure is a real thing. Not just a figment of our female imagination, but a real cultural expectation that is placed on mothers.
If you’re not one of those mamas who has ever struggled with this postpartum pressure, it is a wonderful thing that you have lived without it, but I felt it. I felt it after my first baby, when I felt like I had to prove to myself that motherhood was not going to ‘change me’. (hahahaha) I felt it after my second baby, when I felt I had to prove that I could control two boys and still retain my girly self. (hahahhaha) I felt it after my third baby, because clearly I just had my third baby and people expect you to go downhill from there. (hahahaha) But, by my 4th baby, I didn’t feel it. I felt the most secure in my motherhood, my marriage, my life– I felt like I didn’t have anything more to prove with my body. At this point, I made the purposeful decision that postpartum body shaming was not going to influence my thoughts and decisions this time around. Those unknown fears were not going to be what compelled me to make decisions in my life.
It’s been just over a year since I had Lily and I’m still carrying some postpartum baby weight. I have a fairly flat stomach, but those last 10 pounds seem to hold onto my hips like a kid holding a cookie until I stop nursing. It’s happened every time, so this fourth time around I’ve not stressed over it as much as I have in the past. It doesn’t matter really what I do– eat less, eat more, exercise less or exercise more. Until I stop breastfeeding, there is no pre-pregnancy body coming back.
And in my life now, I’m okay with that. I’m okay with having a little more squeeze if that means my child is still wanting and needing to be breastfed. I feel lucky it’s lasted so long and been so easy this time around. Lily seems to be one of those babes who would prefer to be a lifetime nurser, so having to gently wean her will come soon enough, but I’m just not in any rush.
That doesn’t mean I have days when I don’t look in the mirror and try to remember what my boobs looked like pre-pregnancy when they didn’t need a support bra. Or what my abs looked like with some definition instead of a defined stretch marks or what my bum looked like without these support leggings for lift. There is nothing like trying to put on a pair of jeans from my pre-kid days of ages ago to get a real dose of reality. I may fit into them, but the ‘fit’ has changed.
So I wanted to share this as a visual reminder that pregnancy changes our bodies. It makes us gain weight, and lose weight, some bellies get stretch marks, while others have them on their chest, butt and hips. Our bodies can get red, rashy, itchy, shot up with progesterone, swollen, sensitive, cut open, torn, ripped, and stressed to the max.
But, with time and support they heal. It doesn’t last forever, and the scars that do were earned for a love that lasts a lifetime.
Above I’m wearing my BLANQI Highwaist Postpartum + Nursing Support Leggings just after delivering Lily. I packed them in my hospital bag to help secure my belly with just the right amount of compression so that I was still comfortable. I’ve heard about binding your belly tight just after having a baby, but it never felt comfortable and didn’t work to wear for daily life. Like how can you go to Target wearing a bellybinder?! I would rather enjoy the moments with my new babies, than feel like I couldn’t snuggle them up from the tight and constricting binders. I feel like they make breastfeeding difficult to do and enjoy—and it’s challenging enough those first days, so I prefer these first ever, breastfeeding gamechanger support leggings. The higher waistline, on average, sits about 2 inches higher than typical ‘highwaisted’ leggings, so when I lift my shirt up to breastfeed, my jiggly after-baby belly stays secure and covered. Which always helps when the lactation nurse comes by and I’m all falling out of my gown. Having some coverage helps with feeling a bit more normal in a stressful situation when I’ve had challenges with my baby latching on at first! Just my experience. 🙂