I have had body issues since I gained weight. I was very small in high school and super athletic. So I guess you could say that i have backwards body morph-ism when in reality I am completely normal and healthy for an american woman. I went from a 0 to a 6-8 so completely normal. That’s the most you will know about my weight. Now some of you will read this and go “well why is she complaining about her size if she’s smaller than me or smaller than other woman?”
I’m not. I’m not saying that I am overweight or feel ‘fat’. Because I don’t. This is purely a post about how after having a baby, some woman fell like they are ‘fat’ or ‘ugly’ and I was one of them.
Pregnancy does a lot to your body. It completely gives it a make over and will definitely make you feel self conscious after you’ve had a baby. Now some women have so much self confidence that it doesn’t bug them. I, however, am not one of those women and I am here to tell you that it’s okay to feel this way.
When most women find out that they are pregnant, they’re might have been some tell tale signs already. Some gain weight almost immediately, others breasts’ might be painful. Some realize that they have a dislike of certain food while others will eat their pantry in one night. The cravings, the dislike of certain food, everything, of course points to pregnancy. It beats worshiping the toilet for hours but that happens to some as well.
As pregnancy progresses, weight gain is normal. Now most of this is water weight, and it really can’t be prevented. Some is fat, as your breasts and body are preparing to produce the sustenance that babies need, milk. Regardless, gaining weight will happen, (unless you’re one of those than work out a lot and have almost no belly, i envy you).
The hormones cause you to look at yourself in the mirror and feel like you’re fat. It doesn’t matter that you’re creating life, its something that our brains are hardwired to do. As women, how we look is central to how were perceived in society. I wish that wasn’t so but it is. Men rate our boobs, butt, stomach, face etc. Part of our sexuality is our curves, and shape.
After the baby comes, you may not feel so good about what you see in the mirror. Some women lose that weight super fast, others have to work at it. I looked at myself in the mirror and saw a woman, who was very uncomfortable with the skin on her body. I didn’t know what to think of myself anymore. Sexy? Curvy? Cute? Then there was the fact that my partner watched me push a baby out of my vagina. How on earth could he look at me and see anything sexy or anything that he would ever become excited about again? i mean he literally watched me push a football out of my vagina for heaven’s sake!
With my softer curves, breasts that aren’t near as perky anymore, hips that are much wider and a belly that is no longer tight, i would look at myself in the mirror and see just a mother. I didn’t see a woman, who still had a sexiness to her. I just saw a woman who had given birth. The weight continued to drop through out the months and a couple things happened that effected my hormones and the vision i had of myself.
I was diagnosed with Postpartum Depression a few weeks after birth. I have had issues with depression and anxiety since i was nineteen so it didn’t really come as a surprise to me that I had ‘baby Blues’. I, of course, had to stop breast feeding to begin medication to help with this. More on PPD in a later post. The constant feeling of depression mixed with my hormones basically killed any hope i had of gaining some self confidence. I was low and i turned to the one thing that i knew would make me feel better: Alcohol. Bad mommy. I know.
I continued this self hating phase for a couple of weeks. I didn’t see how my partner was eyeing my curves or looking me up and down out of the corner of his eye. I couldn’t see it because in my mind it wasn’t possible. I didn’t feel how he would let his hands linger on my hips when holding me or how he would gently move them down the sides of my belly. This is what i was blind to. The gentle signs of want. The arousal.
I actually ended up confronting him about it while i was in the bath. I literally asked him if we would ever have sex again. I was mortified that phrase had even come out of my mouth. Asking about sex, while isn’t a hard thing to do when you’ve been with someone for a while, but it isn’t easy when you have no confidence in your body. I’m pretty sure i turned a bright shade of pink after asking and i’m positive that it had nothing to do with a warm bath.
He reassured me that he was still physically attracted to me and i had nothing to worry about. This made me feel slightly better as i still looked in the mirror and didn’t like what reflected.
So i did something I’ve never had to do. I began to work out. Yes, i actually decided to pick up weights and a ball and begin training my body. I was surprised when something happened besides seeing physical results. Working out your body releases endorphins and serotonin in your brain. On top of the physical benefits of being active, mentally my mood began to improve. And so did my self confidence. I began to become more confident, daring to wear the lacy panties or the short shorts to bed. I began to walk with a longer, stronger, stride and carry my head higher. Sure the physical benefits were great, flatter stomach, more defined arms, my muscle began to return to my legs, but man, feeling a weight lifted from my shoulders and carry my head high felt better than anything physical that i could have accomplished.
There is something about the way that woman feel after pregnancy. We lose a part of ourselves to our children, part of us that stays with them through out child hood. You no longer feel like you should do something for yourself, but rather all of your time, attention, your soul goes to them. I regained a small piece of mine. And having that piece back with me gives me more than what i could have done as a mother without it. I am slowly learning to love my softer edges, my pouch on the lower abdomen. It will take some time before i completely can look in the mirror and be okay with what i see. But every day i get a little closer. It’s okay to look at yourself in the mirror and not like what you see, but instead of saying that you’ll work out to lose weight, work out for your mental health because if you’re not happy and mentally put together, it makes raising a child so much more challenging than it already is.
A new mother is still learning, and we learn everyday. Sanity and little rewards, like a smile from your child, or perhaps a night with your partner, will keep you going.
So go ahead, look at your body and see what you think, but remember, those not so perfect soft curves are hiding a mother, a woman, who has the confidence to raise a child, and to go out in the world with the attitude that she can do it. You’re not ugly. You’re not unwanted. You’re absolutely perfect. You are a woman.