Ramblings on my postpartum body

This post is long, long overdue. But, here goes nothing…
-I lost all my pregnancy weight, and then some, while breastfeeding Van. The same happened with Hooper. I know that many struggle to lose the “baby weight” and while this is not a problem of mine, I do feel emaciated. My face looks deflated and I feel like a pole. Hate me for being thin all you want, but I feel far from sexy. And my muscle tone is for shit.
-If I could have any body, I’d love to have hips and butt. Curves are so feminine and beautiful.
-Despite the weight loss, I have a pooch. It feels weird to be so scrawny everywhere else, but then have a protrusion. I hesitated doing any sit-ups in the beginning because I have diastasis recti and read that doing sit ups could make the separation/protrusion worse. I waited for that gap between my abdominal muscles to close, but thanks to my 9+ pound babies, that has yet to occur. I’m not convinced sit-ups would help anyway. Nor am I currently even able to do a sit-up due to my restrictions following back surgery.
-Speaking of working out, I used to think doing some push-ups and sit-ups here and there would be beneficial but now-a-days it seems that people have it down to some complicated recipe of doing a variety of exercises and drinking weird drinks and putting powdered shit into their gross smoothies. I can’t seem to bring myself to board that train. So for a long time after giving birth, I did nothing and felt bad about that too.
-I’m not sure if it’s related to my scoliosis, but I’ve had more back pain since becoming a mom (I’m talking pre-surgery). I’m sure there’s many factors to this (working as a nurse, picking up kids, carrying heavy loads) but, without a doubt, I’m at a greater risk of back pain due to the lack of abdominal support I now have. With my abdominal muscles separated, my back has poor support. I felt very unbalanced prior to my surgery and my spine felt very unstable.
-I battled bad skin for the first part of my pregnancy with Van and had a few bouts of the same prior to starting my period. One pimple is enough to put me in a bad mood some days.
-My boobs feel like balls you can wobble to and fro now that they’re empty.
-Not entirely postpartum related, but my legs are always bruised from something toddler or toy-tripping-over related.
-I grew up doing gymnastics. I spent everyday in the gym, Monday through Friday, for four hours for several years of my child and adolescent years. Even in my college days, when I was coaching competitive gymnastics, I’d mess around and tumble or flip around on the trampoline. Now, I’ve never felt so stiff. I don’t feel flexible and I’m pretty sure that if I jumped on a trampoline, pee would come out. Surgery has made this even worse. It took weeks before I was even able to lift my arms above my head.
-Even before pregnancy, if I could kill for a head full of thick luscious locks and you have a head with thick luscious locks, locking your door at night would be a good idea. I would have starred on one of them 48 Hour Mysteries a long time ago. Leave it to postpartum to take something you hated beforehand and make it worse. Nothing chaps my ass worse than postpartum hair loss. I’m still growing in the bald spots.
-Then there’s the post-surgery shit to add to it… like the scar running all the way down my spine, the burn mark on my left shoulder I sustained after laying on an unwrapped part of a heating pad and could not feel due to the complete (as in, are you touching me?) numbness that covers about half of my back, the fact I cannot work out at all (not that I want to, but it would be nice to strengthen my core to help my back along), my inability to bend (you know how good it feels to twist in such a way that stretches or pops your back? I have that itch constantly but never scratch it… sometimes I think my pain would be substantially less if I could just stretch properly)… but still, there is the good too… Like having a straight spine.
I’ve read other mommy bloggers complain about their postpartum bodies and then end the post with a reminder of all their bodies have done and all our motherly bodies are capable of. Sure, it is pretty spectacular. I still struggle with self-acceptance.
How do you feel about your postpartum body?

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33 Responses

  • le sigh.

    Yep. I’ll be the first to raise my hand. I hate my pp body. Hate it.

    And hate isn’t a word I like to use. But it’s true. I’m nearly 20 pounds heavier and look 4 mos pregnant {but I’m not}. None of my clothes fit well. I don’t like having boobs {always flatchested}. Every morning getting dressed is torture.

    My sweet babes love to pat my tummy and lovingly say, “fat little belly” and it takes every ounce I have to put a smile on my face and say, “yep. mommy’s tummy is a sweet reminder of my babies and aren’t bodies beautfiul in all shapes and sized?”

    I’ve tried diets and exercise and celebrity cookbooks, but nothing works.

    It’s been 4 years since my son’s birth and sooner or later i just have to accept that I will not love the way I look in a bathing suit. The growing cheese on my legs will only worsen with time. And this pudgy belly I have will only be gone by a slice {knife, not pizza // #toobrokeforthat}.

    My 42-year-old body and its metabolism is different now. And every day I struggle to be kind to myself and my self image. But I’m failing.

  • I’m definitely not a fan of my PP body, and while I do appreciate what it’s done for me… it doesn’t change the fact that I have never felt more unattractive in my life. My belly is soft and squishy and wrinkly from extra skin (I got huge during both pregnancies) and my belly button sticks out due to a hernia that I’ll need to have fixed one day if I ever want my belly button to look at all normal again. I have spider veins galore on my legs, and my breast are flat and saggy and smaller than ever. I try to find time to exercise and eat better, but that can be hard with an almost 2 year old and a 4 month old and a full-time job. I feel defeated at times because I know that no matter how much work I put into it, I’ll never look like I once did, so right now, I’m trying to accept that my body is forever changed, but I’ll feel better about myself if I can at least lose the pouch and some of the jiggle and tone everything. I have to get to a point mentally where I’m not trying to acheive the impossible, and be happy working towards a new shape.

  • I know this post wasn’t meant to be funny, but you do make me laugh. PP bodies SUCK! I only have 1 kid and he is 3 now, and I’m still fighting the weight I want to lose. I even teach ballroom dancing in the evenings, so I’m very active, but my body still needs help! I had an emergency C-section and already had an old scar running up and down from my appendix, so they just used that to get the boy out. And boy oh boy do I understand where you’re coming from about your stomach muscles. You can actually feel the separation… it is depressing to think that this little muffin top isn’t going to go anywhere, but I’m starting to get a grip on it. Side note: Ballroom dancing is a great activity. It’s even better if you can get your husband to do it with you, but if not it is still LOADS of fun. Maybe that is something to think about:)

    • Oh ya, I can poke my fingers inside my seperation. Gross, I know. But true. Ballroom dancing, a? I’ll have to give it a twirl one of these days.

  • The grass is always greener right?
    I would sell a chunk of my soul to be as thin as you!

    I have struggled with my weight for about 15 years now. I was obese in high school, emaciated and never eating after high school, semi normal in my early twenties, and overweight my mid twenties. While I was pregnant with my daughter, I gained almost 40lbs.. since she was 6 weeks old I have lost 58lbs but I am still wanting to lose another 25 (at least!)
    I do weigh 10lbs less than I did when I got pregnant, but my belly is more round… I have that pooch and it’s so hard to get rid of! I also read sit-ups are not helpful for postpartum bodies so what can I do other than accept my body?

    My husband and I are talking about trying for another baby this summer but I am wary because I want to lose that 25lbs first. I want to have a healthier pregnancy this time around and I want to make better exercise and food choices.

    I think women have a hard time accepting their bodies no matter what. Blondes want to be red heads, curvy girls want to be thin, thin girls want curves.. it’s vicious.

    when life gives you mellin’s

    • You nailed it, we’re all manipulated into thinking what someone else has is better than what we have. It makes it hard – but not impossible – to be happy with what we got. Making healthy choices is hard; it’s a change in lifestyle for heaven’s sake. Congrats on how far you have come and I hope that you – and all of us – can find peace and acceptance.

  • This is something I’ve wondered about–how I’d feel about my body after having a kid or two. I’m SURE it would bother me–not so much appearance-wise as just feeling not as strong as I used to. You have the back surgery to compound things… You’ve always been active, so I’m sure you’ll get back to doing things that make you FEEL better. I’ve tried to really focus on how I FEEL and now how certain parts of my body LOOK. You’ll probably roll your eyes at this, but I’d love to do yoga with you when you move down here–and when your back is ready! That has made me feel stronger and more aligned than ever. Ok, stepping down from yoga soap box now…

  • I have to say that I’m so glad you didn’t do the sugar coated bs “our bodies are capable of so much! What a gift!” barf. I’m sorry but the reality is that although it’s pretty damn rad what our bodies can do, that doesn’t make your other thoughts just vanish and you magically except your body! So, thanks for that. It’s actually refreshing! Also, if you jumped on a trampoline, you would totally pee. My son is 13 and we went to a trampoline park the other night. MISTAKE. One jump and I learned to never, ever do that again. Yay motherhood!

  • I’m so glad you posted this!! I have been feeling so insecure lately and I was feeling really crazy because I know I’m blessed in so many areas of my life!!

    I used to have a decent sized butt and now it is just gone! I lost all the weight I had from pregnancy and more from breastfeeding my daughter but just like you I feel like a pole! Like I’m flat as a board and there isn’t much there! I loved having boobs for the while that I had them (always been small chested) but now that they are empty I feel worse about them!! Etc etc. the list goes on!

    I once saw this person that made a blessings jar and everytime she was feeling insecure or down about something she would write a blessing and throw it in the jar so if she ever needed it she could go back and look at all her blessings! I feel like I should do that and maybe all these other mothers like me that are feeling down and insecure about their bodies should too!! You are blessed with amazing photography skills! Skills that I hope to learn from one day! You are blessed with amazing and adorable kids, a new and improved straight back, and great legs from what it looks like in this picture!!! 🙂 I’m sure you can find many more blessings to put in that jar! You are a beautiful soul and there is great hope for all of us with insecurities and doubts about ourself!

  • you had to ask! ugh. just when i had a moment where I wasn’t feeling bummed about about my body…you had to ask. haha. seriously, it’s all the time, every day…and that’s so sad to me. i’m definitely not facing as many struggles and frustrations as you. you take the cake there (a nasty tasting cake, right?). but even so, every day i tell myself to get on the treadmill, to make working out and weight loss a priority, to clear out the house of poor food and to fill it with fresh, natural crap. every day I fail at that and every day I get down on myself for it. i’m in the middle of an annoying cycle. i think i’m afraid to get back into my fitness routine i used to have pre-baby, and that i’ll realize i’m a lost cause? so how about giving up before even trying, to avoid such a disappointment. sounds like a fabulous plan! no, i know i’ll snap out of it. i don’t know the results I’ll get, but i’ll snap out of it. if for nothing else but for the sake of my kid. i don’t want to set a bad example for her, of setting goals and not following through with them. i want her to see what dedication looks like…what it used to look like for me. i don’t want her to watch me turn into a lifeless, energy deficient, fat blob..which is what i’ve been feeling like for some time. i appreciate your honesty on the subject and even though i don’t think you had intentions on being motivating here, reading your struggles helps me realize how little limitations I have on fixing my problem and that I should really just get my shit together and do something more about it. -Misty

  • It’s crazy how we are all so different. I have many friends, like you, that lost more weight than they cared to from nursing. While others (including myself) felt that nursing didn’t help me shed a pound. In fact, I think it helped me gain weight because I was ravenous (mind you I shouldn’t have eaten whole servings of carry out pad thai)-but I was hungry! Its 19 months now, and I still don’t feel the same. Mostly everything is back to where it was pre-baby, but I guess I just don’t feel sexy any longer-could also have something to do with having a baby latched onto my boob and not getting any sleep. 🙁 Regardless, I think us women are always too tough on ourselves and I for one need to work on self-appreciation.
    BTW-I think you look adorable!

  • Same story here. Very thin pre pregnancy and now back to that weight. My very small chest now seems smaller. I always get comments on how thin I am. It’s really something I can’t help. I really miss the breastfeeding boobs! I also have separated abdominal muscles. The only thing that has helped add muscle mass has been twice a week yoga. I started when my twins were 15 months and while my stomach will never be the same it seems somewhat improved. I also have thin hair and post preg hair loss was awful! Thanks for this post – it showed me someone else was experiencing similar things.

  • I’m 11 weeks pp tomorrow. I breastfeed so I’m already back to my pre pregnancy weight, but like you, I have a small flabby gut. As much as I cannot stand it because NOTHING in my wardrobe looks good on me, I can’t get myself to eat better or go to the gym. I’m allowed to wear my maternity jeans for the rest of my life, right? Ugh.

  • Have you tried pilates? It helped with a lot of my um, problem areas post baby, and I actually take classes with someone who had the exact surgery you did, albeit years ago, but she just modifies what she can’t do. Anyway, might be worth looking into.

    • I hadn’t done pilates before my surgery and I’m not clear to do any yoga or pilates until after a year, but it’s definitely something I want to check out. It’s just finding the time and all that good stuff… Thanks for the suggestion.

  • I think the hair part was the hardest for me. I have thick curly hair that I chemically straighten every 6 months. Right after my son was born, I lost so much hair. I had all of these broken pieces around my face. I looked like I stuck my hand into an electric socket for almost a year until it grew back. It was gross!

  • I lost my baby weight plus more. All that weight lost has spiraled into an eating disorder for me, due to low self esteem and past body issues. I look in the mirror and think I look too skinny but I also fear gaining weight. It truly saddens me because I look at my son and I know what makes him proud of me has nothing to do with all the baggage I continue to burden myself with.

    • I’m sorry to hear. I had a very close friend that had an eating disorder and know how difficult that can be for everyone involved. I hope you get help and are able to find peace. Thank you for sharing.

  • I battled with Anorexia from age 15-24, and remnants of that linger in my inability to be flexible and the overall anxiety I feel sometimes. Pregnancy and motherhood cured me, if one can believe in being cured from an eating disorder. Facing pregnancy, a time in which my body was going to grow, NO MATTER WHAT, and change, and maybe never return to the slender form I clung to. After I had my second child, I have to say this: I LOVE MY BODY MORE THAN EVER. I totally detest false proclamations of postpartum gratitude, but I truly do honor this body so much more now.
    Don’t get wrong, I’m terrified about how my breasts (which are usually tiny) will be after I finish breastfeeding. But I work every day to feel respect for my body. I was surprised with my first pregnancy; I had kind of assumed my fertility was for shit (year of ammenorhea due to the ED), but it blossomed so easily.
    I find Yoga to be safe place. I love to over-exercise (truthfully, that was my form of “purging”), and yoga grounds me like nothing else. (And my body really looks better than when I exclusively did cardio)

  • yep, my son is nearly a year old and although i lost the baby weight really quickly after birth, i have stretch marks that cover my whole mid area and inner thigh which still haven’t disappeared no matter how much bio oil i use. i have boobs that touch my stomach when i’m sitting without a bra (and nipples double the size might i add) and a awkwardly flabby middle, i’ve never been one to do much exercise unless it’s involved in a hobby. sigh. i best get doing those sit ups!

  • I’m constantly reminded by moms hating on their image (usually leading up to a photo session) that we all struggle with this and it is so incredibly fucked. As much as you’ve wanted curves I’ve wanted skinny… And while I’m inclined to joke “can’t we just meet in the middle?!” really more than anything I wish it were as easy as so many bloggers like to say it is to just accept ourselves as the beautiful mamas we are. Thanks for being so refreshingly honest about it, because we need this conversation to continue.
    On a side note, Franny referred to my “long boobs” recently. So yeah, fucking awesome. As ridiculously gigantic as they have always been, they were actually quite perky pre-baby. And now they’re just “long.”
    Love you lady, loads and loads (and so glad I actually know you now)! Smooches. PQ

    • Oh my god, I love Franny. Long boobs? Get outta here. I’m dying. We need to get a drink together one of these days.

  • I loved this post simply because none of my friends decided to have children and so none of them can relate. Here is what I’ve decided about my pp body.
    1.) Pants are bullshit. Nothing fits when your ass ran away in the night your pelvis settled into a half cocked “have mercy on me I’ve been through hell” position. Also I have a slight muffin top that might actually be where my ass shifted to at some point but who knows. It’s a god damn shit show from the arm pits down.
    2.) I actually said ” that post partem boob sag thing won’t happen to me!” Before I had kids. Guess what? I was wrong. I now have mini flap jacks adhered to my chest.
    3.) People keep saying “I like you better without bangs” guess what people? Not bangs- just pp hair coming back in slow as as molasses and in a Courtney Love circa 92 fashion.
    4.) I also have the ab muscle separation and It becomes my party trick when I’ve had too much wine. “Hey- come see how many fingers you can stick between my ab muscles!” hiccup.
    Our bodies, our emotions, our esteem go through the ringer when we decide to have children- but those
    miniature humans somehow manage to make it worth all the body bullshit because of the imprint left on the heart.
    Thanks for a great post Ashley.
    Aly from Seattle

    • oh shit, you’re hilarious. Thanks for sharing. I wish I was at a party with you so we could play the “how many fingers” game.

  • You people are disgusting. Giving a term to your body “post” something, like this is my “post 25-year-old body”. Who says that? People that are fucked. Your body shouldn’t be any different after a baby than before a baby. Maybe it will take a few months, but everything should go back to normal. If your bodies are this horrific, it is probably from age and lack of care. Maybe be honest with yourselves.

    • LMFAO… hahahhaha… I’m pretty sure it wasn’t turning another year older that caused my abdomen to separate. I think I could credit that to my both of my 9+ lbs babies (and no, I’m not overweight. I’m actually underweight and happen to carry large babies so suck a d before you make any further assumptions). Come back and comment after having a baby. Until then, I’m just going to giggle at your ignorance.

  • THANK YOU for writing this. I feel like I could’ve been the one writing this post in many ways. I have had 3 boys back to back and just discovered your blog today so you can be sure I’m your newest stalker 😉 I’m only 27 but I have the body of what I think more closely resembles an anorexic 60 year old woman. I thought my boobs couldn’t get any more nonexistent that what they were before breastfeeding but now they’re like empty bags that can barely fill an A cup. I have yet to find a bra that fits and have resigned to wearing sports bras over bras with cups to give the appearance of breasts under my clothes. I’m very thin and have no remaining baby weight but I would rather be fat if it meant I had voluptuous curves. My diastasis recti was 4 finger widths at its worst and I like to use it as an excuse NOT to work out now (uh you know those crunches will just exacerbate the damn thing). I remember when I first discovered it leaning back and having a ridge appear outward down the middle of my abdomen – WTF IS THAT!? haha. I have a nice little Sharpei style pooch surrounding my outy bellybutton which was once in inny. It looks like a bloodhound’s face if I scrunch it up. I had a navel piercing which literally ripped in half leaving a gnarly scar just above this protrusion. The stretch marks are some sort of abstract design in the ripples of my stretched and torn skin and its sad attempt at healing. My lower back hurts every day, mostly on account of the trauma to my tailbone from three deliveries. I have to go to physical therapy just to be able to void my bladder bc my pelvic floor got so f**cked up that it left scarring internally and my muscles didn’t go back together correctly preventing my bladder from being able to empty fully and leading to chronic UTIs. I have an umbilical hernia which prompted a short, balding little gastroenterologist man to tell me “you need to get that fixed if you want to be in a bikini again”. So you are NOT alone and I’m working my way through this shit too. Its part of life I suppose and its something I hope I can come to terms with more easily with the passage of time.

    • I fee ya, mama, I feel ya. I giggled at many of your descriptions. You’re funny. Thanks for sharing and lots of love to you and your little ones. xo

    • “I have a nice Sharpei style pooch surrounding my outy bellybutton which was once in inny. It looks like a bloodhound’s face if I scrunch it up. I had a navel piercing which literally ripped in half leaving a gnarly scar just above this protrusion.” Seriously, I could;t have written a more accurate description of myself. It doesn’t matter how much you honor yourself for carrying, birthing and nourishing your children – it’s just not a good feeling and you feel like you’re one of the few who look this way, so the more other women talk and share, the better. Thank you for that. I have found ways to boost my confidence and get my sexy back which I share on my site, but I need to do a better job of venting my insecurities and frustrations.

  • I too can relate to this in so many ways. Gained 62 lbs with my first boy, lost it all. Gained 75 lbs with my second boy who weighed in at 9.5 lbs. Even though I’m lighter on the scale than I was before I had them, I have zero muscle tone, diastasis recti, umbilical hernia, kyphosis and lordosis (wore a back brace as a child) so my protruding stomach sticks out even more because of my poor posture/curvature of my spine and I’m still asked how far along I am by strangers. I’m still breastfeeding but my boobs still seem deflated. Can’t imagine what they will look like when I stop breastfeeding. Thanks for writing this and keeping it real for the mamas!


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