I have been thinking a lot about how my body image has changed since motherhood lately. I have to say, I have not always had a positive body image. In fact for the majority of my life, I would say my body image has been pretty negative. Blame it on society or inner demons or whatever, but I know I am not alone. Today I want to share a little bit about my own journey with body image, but read on because I have some other inspiring mamas’ words on this topic too.
With my first pregnancy, I had a really hard time with my changing body. I didn’t want my picture taken at all. I also hated talking to well-meaning strangers about how far along I was, or the various other questions people ask when you’re pregnant. However by my third pregnancy, I relished every moment. I’m sure some of that was the benefit of experience, but never have I felt more confident and beautiful as I did carrying Diego. [The photos in this post are from my maternity session with my dear friend Brandi of B. Hansen Photography.] I so wish I could have found that confidence earlier with my first two pregnancies because it was truly magical.
Here’s a little more about my feelings on my postpartum body image after baby number three.
On the other hand, I am amazed every. single. day. when I look into these sweet faces that I created their features, fingers, and toes. Literally every single part of them I grew inside my womb. It never ceases to amaze me! My current body may not be totally toned, my thighs definitely touch, that belly still sticks out a little too far, and the number on the scale won’t budge in the right direction. But this body has carried me through four full marathons, six half marathons, and several other shorter distance races. Not to mention three live natural births, two of which were unmediated. How AMAZING is all that? When I feel down about myself, this is what I try to remember.
[pc: dream photography studio]
In reality, it can be difficult to feel confident and positive about my body every day. So I decided to seek further inspiration and community on this topic. I asked some of my online besties to share a little about where they are at with their body images since motherhood. I found myself nodding yes to SO many things they were saying here, and I think you will too.
Anne Hill // The Hills Are Alive // @annehilldesign
Having children completely changed my physical body and how I mentally think of my body. Every stretch and change and pound gained during my first pregnancy came with learning and growth and definitely tears, but nothing has ever made me feel stronger and more powerful than birthing a child. I’ve been pregnant or nursing since 2012 and sometimes I feel like I’ll never have my body back to myself. That is frustrating some days. But, if I take a step back and look at what I’ve done, growing tiny humans and sustaining their lives with what my body can create, I’m in awe.
I felt most confident in my skin a year after having my first child. I was running regularly and had recently finished a half marathon. I was still nursing, and felt like I had control and balance in my diet, exercise, and motherly duties. I felt strong and confident and happy.
Pregnancy and childbirth taught me I can do anything. Our bodies are so strong and capable and create MIRACLES right before our eyes. I love the feeling I have after birthing a baby. I’ve always felt so strong and beautiful. Which is funny because I know I didn’t look my best, but I remember looking in the mirror at the hospital after having my babies and thinking I looked great. That feeling always melts away in the weeks following childbirth, but I love that I have it to look back on and remember when I’m down.
Since having children, my body image has definitely changed for the better. Even though I don’t have near the abs I did the day I got married in 2012 (ha), since then my body has carried three children and birthed two, with our third arriving in February. Now at age 26, the experience of three pregnancies, carrying each of my sweet little girls inside me, feeling their kicks and flutters as they grow, and then giving birth and holding them, nursing them, and caring for them — that is worth more than anything.
The time I used to spend at the gym, lifting weights and taking weekend yoga classes has since been replaced with bedtime book-reading, cookie-baking, hair-brushing and couch snuggling. Instead of going for a run on my own these days it’s a walk around our neighborhood with our little girls in the crisp Fall air as we search for the yellowest leaves and crunchiest leaf pile. And even though life looks much different now than it did in 2012, it’s a million times better than it ever has been.
I never knew my body was capable of so much until I had children. I feel so grateful for my body now more than ever. I am thankful that I have been able to conceive and carry each of my 3 daughters. To experience natural births and watch as I knew instinctively how to nourish and take care of them from the first moment I met them. That is such a gift that I don’t take lightly.
It is a privilege many women don’t get to experience no matter how badly they wish to. Something I remind myself of on the days I notice myself being critical of my body or how it has changed since becoming a mom. I’ve learned to give myself grace on those days and to find gratitude in the gift of both pregnancy and motherhood. Our bodies are pretty amazing – after all, they’re capable of miracles.
Having my girls changed my body in ways I never could have imagined. I am not totally stoked with all of the changes, but overall I love this body because it tells the story of my two greatest accomplishments. I used to be pretty hard on my body, picking it apart, blaming it for not turning the donut I just ate in to a tone tummy. I had unhealthy and unrealistic expectations. Since having my girls, I have come respect my body a lot more. Our bodies are capable of so much more than modelling swimsuits. They are capable of creating life- mind. blowing. goodness!
Delivering Olivia, I felt the most beautiful I have ever felt! I had no reservations about my body afterwards because I had just successfully laboured and delivered the most precious little bundle and that made me feel like a goddess. What I realize now is that I have the power to do so in a much healthier way. Being a mother to daughters has taught me to care less about numbers and more about making healthy decisions. My goal isn’t about being a specific size, it’s about feeling confident in the body I have.
Social media has made it challenging to feel good about my body. It is hard not to compare myself to the mom who is still a size 2 even after having 3 kids. So much good comes from these different types of media but there is also the other side, the side that leaves you feeling less than good enough. I recently decided to put myself out there and speak openly about my body in hopes that I will reach the mom who is scrolling through her feed feeling insecure. We need to stop comparing ourselves to unrealistic examples. We are creators of life, let’s cheers to that!