Depression, Parenting, Pregnancy

How I Feel About My Postpartum Body

I’ve always been ok with my body. Growing up, through teenhood, I had low self-esteem about many things but my body was not one of them. Sure, there were little things that I would change and I would compare myself with other girls I knew, and celebrities on magazine covers. But in general, I was content with it.

I was 23 when I met my husband. I was even more confident with my body at that time. I was over a lot of the immaturity that comes with being a teenager and became a lot more comfortable with myself and less worried about what others thought of me. 

Even when I gained some weight as a side effect of starting anti-depressants, (ironic side effect considering how gaining weight might cause one to become depressed) I wasn’t really bothered by how I looked. I still thought I looked good. That being said, it was pretty annoying when some of my favourite pieces of clothing didn’t fit!

Then I became pregnant. I was so excited as my body started changing. At first, I found myself really concerned about if people could tell I was pregnant, and not think I just ate a bunch of tacos. But as my belly got even bigger, I felt more comfortable because it was obvious now that I was pregnant. People were constantly telling me how great I looked when I was pregnant, and that made me feel great.

Near the end of my pregnancy, however, I started thinking about how and if my body would bounce back. I had gained enough weight that my wedding/engagement rings wouldn’t fit anymore, and I really missed them. I started getting stretch marks on my thighs, but not on my belly which seemed kind of weird. And I started getting the “haha are you having twins?” comments. I know people are just joking around when they say that, but think about it. You’re basically telling this woman who has just gone through months of dealing with a rapidly changing body, who might be very self-conscious about it, that she is double the size she should be. 

Then I had the baby. It was a very intense experience, and if you’re interested in reading about it, you can check out my birth story post {here}. For the first month after having her, I was just focused on adjusting to my new life as a mom, trying to deal with sleep deprivation and healing my body. I didn’t have the time or energy to think much about how my body looked.

At 2-3 months postpartum, Cassidy was sleeping a bit better but we hadn’t really formed a routine yet. Keegan was back to work and being alone with her all day was a new adjustment. I was starting to think about how different my body was, and it was driving me crazy that I couldn’t get my rings on still.

Then the 4-month sleep regression hit, followed by Christmas. I was starting to hate my body a bit and knew that I needed to get myself back in shape, but with the lack of sleep during the 4-month sleep regression, I had no energy to exercise, or really care. It felt like that first month all over again. Then Christmas came. It was a wonderful holiday. Being Cassidy’s first Christmas, I tried to soak it all in as best I could. It was such a cheerful time, being around family who all spoiled her. It was a truly happy time. It was also a time of amazing food and lots of pictures!

Looking at pictures of myself after Christmas was not pleasant for me. I love that we have those memories captured and I want Cassidy to see pictures of me from this time period. But there normally aren’t pictures taken of me so it was a bit of a shock to see them. I was not happy with how I looked. Compared to a couple of years ago, I am much larger.

This entire postpartum time I had been looking down at my belly and thinking “man I gotta get rid of this” without thinking too much about it because I just had a baby. But once Christmas was over, Cassidy was starting to sleep through the night and have a good mostly predictable routine, I started to think more and more about my body and appearance. 

These last few weeks have been really hard for me. I didn’t *just* have a baby anymore. I really miss my pre-pregnancy body and all the clothes I used to wear that no longer fit. I had an especially difficult day when I tried to see if any of the dresses I own would still fit because I had a wedding to go to. I was expecting them to be too small, but seeing just how small they are was a big punch to the gut. Even a dress I got while I was pregnant that was too large in the chest, and I figured would fit my waist just fine afterward was way too small. I really underestimated how large my chest would get from breastfeeding.

Speaking of breastfeeding. I was told that breastfeeding can help you lose weight after pregnancy. NOPE. All it’s done for me is make me want to eat everything all the time because of how many calories it takes. 

Then I went dress shopping because none of my dresses fit. I felt guilty for needing to spend the money on a new dress. Had I just lost the weight, I could have gotten into a dress I already owned. I also have always been able to know what will look good on me just from looking at it. A nice benefit to working in clothing retail for a long time. But this time, the dresses I thought would look best, looked horrible. I was now trying to dress a body I do not know anymore.

Now I know what a lot of people might be thinking. “Why are you complaining? You have a baby. Be happy about that.” or “You’re not REALLY that big. Calm down.” And they do have a point. 

Don’t get me wrong, having Cassidy is one of the greatest things to ever happen to me and she brings me a level of joy I could never fathom before. And I know I’m not obese or anything, and I still have a somewhat small frame. The issue is, this is the first time I’m dealing with this level of insecurity about my body. I’m noticing problem areas I had never paid attention to before. I never had that weird underarm fat that makes a lot of sleeveless styles look horrible now. I hate having this belly that sticks out and makes me look pregnant when I’m not. The stretch marks on my thighs drive me insane, it’s such a weird spot for them, and now I’m worried about them being noticeable when I wear swimsuits this summer. My thighs also rub together a lot more than they used to. Which is just really uncomfortable, especially in a dress.  And finally, I still can’t fit my rings!

These feelings are all so new to me, I miss being thin, I really miss my clothes (I get very attached to clothing and will wear them until they can’t be worn anymore) and I miss feeling confident about how my body looks.

All of that being said. I am also very proud of my body. With a few cells from my husband and me, I was able to grow this beautiful little baby inside of my body. I kept her safe and nurtured her until she was ready to be born. Giving birth to a baby is the hardest thing I’ve ever done, and my body endured every aspect of it. After she was born, my body nourished her with milk that it made and continues to make. My body gave life to this amazing little person, and every day when I have these difficult feelings towards it, I try to remember that.

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