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GoddessJ 02-20-2009 08:14 PM

I am so grateful that for the most part I have had an extremely healthy pregnancy. This is my first baby and my biggest issue has been around body image.

Last night we had a birth class and the instructor suggested that I visit the site

I was very afraid to go there. I don't want to feel even more discouraged about what I am going to look like PP. But I went and sat with some of the images. I cried for some of them and felt angry when I looked at others.

Then I got really into the fact that we don't share all the hard stuff, the realities of pregnancy and giving birth and the PP period. I didn't even know that there would be bleeding involved PP until I got onto this forum for example.

And that led to me feeling upset with the society we live in. I live in LA, the land of plastic surgery and perfect bodies, and I work in the media both in front of and behind the camera. My director tells me often about sucking in my stomach and that was before pregnancy when I was in great shape. I don't know if I will be having a girl or a boy...but I don't want them thinking that people in magazines and in movies are what "real" people look like. I want my little girl to feel beautiful no matter what. And if I have a boy I want him to know that beauty isn't what he sees on the internet sites or in magazines. Nor do I want him to think that he is failure as a man if he doesn't have someone like that as a partner. My DP feels that this is the training that he got...he must have a woman who looks like women in magazines in order to be a successful man. I also don't want my own body image issues to affect my child. What's funny is that I really didn't have many body image is mostly coming up since being pregnant and seeing PP bodies.

So my question is...for those of you who have children already how did you feel about your PP body? And how do you help your children to feel their beauty?

For those of you first time moms...what are your fears about how your body is changing? How are you working through them?

Conchobhar 02-20-2009 08:37 PM

OMG, thank you so much for posting that site! I have always been self-conscious about my body (everyone called me Meat Loaf in Jr. High because they thought I looked like him. Even my mother would put me on diets in High school because she thought I was fat), but pregnancy has made it that much worse. I've felt like I'm the only woman in the world that isn't a cute pregnant lady. In my eyes, I've gained a huge amount of weight, got stretch marks on my stretch marks, my nose is twice the size it should be and I feel like I've got a permanent look of anger on my face because of the added swelling/fat. I can't even smile right anymore. I've wanted to walk around in public with a bag over my head this whole time because I feel people are staring at me because I'm such a freak.

I work in the media as well. Not only are the people we constantly audition for shows judged by their looks, but everyone behind the camera is as well. I work in a male-dominated workplace, where the few women who are there are size-0 girls who are so up-to-date on the latest fashion, you'd swear they all had time machines. I don't get talked to very much by anyone, because I'm not a single, attractive, 20-something girl and though I shouldn't let it, it does bug me. Recently, another show moved into my cube row and all I heard from the guys on my show was how they were happy to finally have "ladies" in their row.

I'm slowly working on my self-image with a counselor, but as it's been something I've dealt with all my life, we both know it's not going to get "cured" anytime soon. The one thing that's really helped me is looking back on pre-preggo pics of me and realizing that I was thinner and prettier than I thought I was back then. It gives me a goal that if I was that way once, I can be near that way again and hopefully I'll realize that I am thin. And heck, this is (obviously) the heaviest I've ever weighed, I'll lose some during birth, I can only get better (thinner) from that time on. It's a goal, at least.

ilovebabies 02-20-2009 08:48 PM

First of all I want to say that I have seen your pg pics and cannot, for the life of me, see why in the world you would have a poor body image. You are gorgeous. Okay, had to get that out.

Body image has been my biggest struggle with this pg and I've never struggled with body image before aside from the typical third trimester "huge" feeling. Not only have I been pregnant and/or nursing for 4 solid years, but it has occurred in my mid-late thirties when our bodies start to change anyway. Those two things combined have wreaked havoc on my body and it's been most noticeable this pregnancy. The weight gain may be the same, but my body looks quite different.

I'm generally fine with my pp body for the first 3 months and then I get antsy to get my body back. Unfortunately, I'm one of those who hangs onto some weight until my baby starts regularly on solids and doesn't bf as much. I'm afraid that this time around is going to be difficult for me.

As for our children, we are always telling them how beautiful they are inside and out. We love them unconditionally and never focus on their looks. My dh plays a huge role in this with our girls in helping them be secure in themselves and having a healthy body image. The father's role in the lives of their daughters is critical. And of course having parents with healthy body images is crucial. If they see our healthy body image, they will have one as well.

javilu 02-20-2009 08:56 PM

I don't have children, but my mom has two of them, and it really helped me growing up that my mom was so comfortable with her body and I saw her naked very often. She's short and curvy and not at all like the tall, skinny models one sees in magazines. I saw what her breasts looked like having fed two babies for years and I know mine will change, but they'll still be beautiful, because I will be becoming more like my mom, who has always been the ultimate image of love for me.

I think it helped me so much to see my mom in this way.

That's not to say I didn't face a whole lots of problems with body image in my early-20s, when I was thrust into a new sort of culture and new expectations. But maybe things would've been even worse if I didn't at least have that foundation, you know?

Altair 02-20-2009 09:36 PM

It is a scary thought. I've always been very petite, always worn size 0 clothes and x-smalls, and it's always just been a part of me to be very short and very skinny. Of course, being huge in the 3rd trimester is easy and hard.... easy in that your body looks so curvy and voluptuous, but hard in that you've never weighed so much. It's PP that scares the daylights out of me. My partner is an actor, he's beyond gorgeous, don't ever know how I landed him ... and he's surrounded by beautiful women. It freaks me out so much to know that I'll be lumpy and saggy and hormonal and bleeding and he'll still be tight and hot! I trust him, I can't see anything tempting him, but that doesn't make it any easier to swallow or make my body image any better.

could we be the first due date club to post our PP bellies too? has it been done? I was thinking of getting my first mommy-baby professional pictures to be him on my soft belly, curled up in the same position he was inside.

EarthMamaVT 02-20-2009 09:54 PM

I've personally never dealt with a body image dilemma...I've always been slender so that is probably why. But I still hate the way that media portrays women and I hate the state of our teenage/early 20s females lives are in. I've never liked all those tabloids or teen magazines because there aren't any real women in those things. Growing up and going to school we see what real women look like and should be glad that we don't live in the worlds that are portrayed in movies and on tv.

I love my body for what it is and what it has done for me (ie. expanded for me to grow a wonderful and healthy baby). I want to instill that mentality upon my children so they will be well rounded and compassionate human beings.

I think that this project is very cool. It's nice to see women being confident in themselves to post their belly shots. I find it (and the shape of a mother site) very empowering for female kind.


eewieew 02-20-2009 10:15 PM

thanks for this thread j.

i stumbled upon 'the shape of a mother' a few months ago and honestly it made me feel a lot better. i was so proud of those women for posting those pictures of themselves, even though it was obviously hard for them to do so.

i have struggled with body image my entire life. prior to getting pg, i weighed close to 300 pounds, until i decided to take control of my body again, and through diet and exercise managed to shed close to 120 of that. the thing is, i wasn't some waif, and i never expect to be - i'm above average height, muscular and i do have a large build. i looked amazing, and i felt amazing. i've never lacked for male attention, and even at this point, i'm single by choice.

but i also looked like a lot of those women on that website with no baby to show for it. i have stretch marks on my belly from being fat, and loose skin from losing all of that weight. the funny thing is, i STILL have loose skin that i can grow into on my belly, and i'm ready to give birth. but you know, i accept those things as badges of the journey that i've been on. i'm not overly concerned about losing the weight after i have the baby...i mean, i lost 4 times as much as i've gained once already.

i think it's really sad that we place so much emphasis on physical beauty. don't get me wrong, i think it's very important to take care of oneself. i hike, i practice yoga, i cycle, i go to the gym, i climb, because i like my body to be strong and able to respond in whatever way i ask it to, not because i want to be beautiful.

every single person has a gift to share with the world and so often we are afraid to, for fear of rejection based on physical ideals. yeah, my husband left me for a 23 year old with a hot body and no baggage, but i can't change who i am or how i look, so eff him for being so shallow, when i have so many other things to offer. i intend to raise my daughter in such a way that she understands that sometimes beauty comes in the most unlikely packages; beauty is not necessarily just the pretty things. perceived flaws are beautiful too.

i second that we post our pp bellies as well.

Devaskyla 02-20-2009 10:37 PM

I've always hated my body. The only things my pregnancies have changed about it are to make my already overly large breasts even bigger & to create a nasty overhang & scarring from the cesarean. I hated my belly before, but I hate it even more since I was sliced open. Even hugely pregnant it doesn't look very good at the bottom. I'm loving the top right now, though. And since I can't see the lower part atm, I'm feeling pretty good about my belly. Makes a nice change. I hope I can keep the feeling going once the baby is here & maybe feel like I deserve to take care of myself to try to fix as much of the damage as I can. Pretty sure the only thing that would really fix it is plastic surgery, though.

karpat2006 02-20-2009 10:54 PM

I'm reading this after I opened the door to the ups man bringing me my belly bandit I ordered for post partum. I'm going to think more on this topic and respond tomorrow.

liliaceae 02-20-2009 11:11 PM

After my first birth, my body looked exactly like it did pre pregnancy within weeks (except for bigger boobs due to breastfeeding of course). This pregnancy my belly is bigger than the first time and though I haven't gotten any stretch marks yet, I'll be surprised if I don't by the time I deliver. I don't really know how I'll feel about it if my body ends up looking different this time. I know if there were a dramatic change I would not be happy about it, and it would be very difficult to deal with. I guess that's a bridge I'll cross if/when I come to it.

marieangela 02-20-2009 11:16 PM

I saw that website a long time ago, but will be revisiting it now. I've always had a decent body image. Never felt super great or super bad about myself. My mom was a nun before she met my dad (who was a priest) and they left the religious life and got married. She has never worn make-up, has had the same short hair forever, has never dyed her hair and just is who she is. I'm somewhat like her, but I think my peers and the general atmosphere in my teens led me to be somewhat concerned with the way I look. I wish I were more like my mom, though, and just didn't care. As it is, I've never worn make-up or spent much time on clothes or anything. This will be my third child and my body bounced back really well after the first two. I actually felt somewhat better about myself, as my main issues were too small chest and too big hips and butt- which got reversed pp due to nursing and turned into not quite so small chest and tiny hips and butt. I'm a bit concerned that I won't bounce back quite the same since this is my third and I'm a bit older than I was with the boys (almost 34).
My boys are gorgeous and have the big blue eyes with long, dark lashes that I definitely do not have (smallish brown eyes for me). They don't seem at all concerned with the way that they look, so maybe I'm doing something right. Having a girl has me a bit worried. I want to raise her to be strong and feel good about herself aside from her looks, but am not quite sure how to combat society on this. I'm rambling and probably not making a ton of sense-so I'll stop now.

Double E 02-21-2009 01:05 AM

What a great website- thanks for sharing! Very Powerful.

So many women struggle with their bodies and it's really sad and pathetic
that the media puts so much pressure on us to look (and act and feel) a certain way.

I've always had body image issues, not horrible but bad enough that I've never felt "great" about how I look. That is, until I look at older pictures of me and think "wow, look good I looked" (even though I thought I was "fat" at that time).

I'm pregnant with #2. When I got pregnant this time, I was 10 lbs heavier than I was when I got pregnant with my son. And I've also gained more weight this time around (I've gained like 45ish lbs so far and I'm 36 weeks- aahhhhh).
I've never seen the scale so high and I'm slightly freaking out.

The thing is, I like my belly. I don't really mind the stretch marks and extra skin. To me they are a reminder of what a beautiful child I help create!
But I'm not a fan of my (big) legs and boobs.....I've always had a big chest and being pregnant isn't helping that. Even before pregnancy I was sagging.
So I need to come to terms with it since I'm not going to be having surgery.

I know that after this baby arrives it's going to be a struggle to lose all the weight I gained. But I think reminding myself that I want to be healthy and strong to take care of my kids for long time will help (that and Weight Watchers)!
But I also know that I need to be gentle with myself as well. Cut myself some slack. And be able to embrace my body the way it is.

My wish is that all mother's (and women) could do this.

Malva 03-01-2009 01:14 AM

Not totally body image related but I just came across this article that actually talks about postpartum changes we don't often mentioned like hairloss, bleeding, sore breasts even tho pretty much every women goes through them.

JillyD 03-02-2009 01:46 AM

Well, I have had some body image issues but have mostly felt good about my body so long as I am in good shape. I'm not skinny like my sister (which was always hard growing up) but I do think I have a beautiful body - though it took me ages to feel that way and to really believe it.

Anyway, I wanted to reply because I remember feeling that my PP body was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. I couldn't believe the strength it took to birth a baby and was more proud of myself and my body than I had ever been in my life. It was amazingly freeing to feel this way - I had no issues walking around the house (or anywhere for that matter!) with my PP baby belly sagging knowing that extra skin and red stretch marks lurked beneath my layers. It was liberating! I also remember looking back a my pre-pregnancy photo and thinking "OMG, I was SKINNY!" and i have never thought that about myself before. it's amazing how image and reality can differ.

Now, I will also state, for the record, that this feeling unfortunately went away as I became very impatient to get my "old body" back (perhaps around 4 months PP). It took a year and some dedication but i did get it back. And, once I did, I had a better body image than I did before pregnancy. My body was never 100% back to what it was (I still had those stretch marks though they faded, thank goodness!) but I felt awesome!

Our bodies are amazing...they can grow and birth and feed a baby!! What more is there to love about a body than that?

GoddessJ 04-23-2009 02:22 PM

How are all the Postpartum bodies doing? I wanted to follow up and see if anyone here would like to share how they feel about thier bodies and post any pics if they want to share.

Just a day after the birth I felt really, really great about my body. I didn't get any stretch marks on my belly (my biggest fear was that I would have a "blender" belly like my moms), everyone told me that because my mom and my sister had them that I would get them too. I took pictures at one week postpartum and I plan on posting them. I did gain 50 pounds and my clothing still doesn't fit at a month later. According to the scale I have already lost 20 pounds, only 30 to go (and that feels like it will be impossible). So at a month I am feeling a little like things won't ever go back, my belly is all smooshy and still looks like I am 4-5 months pregnant when I sit down, my hips and thighs are wide, and my pelvic floor is so strange to me. I have some scar tissue from my 2nd degree tear and although my bleeding has stopped my labia are all purple (TMI) and I got a wierd skin tag on the opening to my vagina. My PC muscles are still week, I can sometimes stop the flow of urine when I do a kegel, but not all the time.

I really want to stay possitive, because I felt so great after the birth about how my body was recovering. My partner reassures me everyday that I am a sexy mamma. For some reason, not that I have hit the one month mark I feel that I should be back to "normal" and I am noticing myself falling back into nagative body image stuff. I know that I have some work to do with accepting my body and all of the changes, afterall it has just gone through 9 months of making a baby and then having that baby move through my body. What a miracle!

How are you all doing with your physical recovery and how are you feeling about your bodies?

friendlymamma 04-23-2009 05:36 PM

I discovered this thread today, a day I've especially been struggling. This was my 3rd pregnancy and my body has never looked this bad ever post partum. I'm heavier then I've EVER been after either of my boys and I have this hang down belly that I've never had. It makes me sad to see myself. I've started weight watchers to try and start losing, because I have one of those bodies that BF'ing does not help one bit, and I always have to work so hard to lose anything. I don't want to look like this and I feel so undesirable. And, with bathing suit season right around the corner, I'm feeling the pressure. I'm going to need a wet suit to take the kids swimming LOL.

With that said, as far as my boys (ds1 is the only one old enough right now), I emphasize healthy eating and exercise habits with him. I never express hatred for my body in front of him. I tell him that we have to take care of our bodies. I haven't addresses the beauty issue with him yet, but will strive to teach inner beauty.

I'm honestly happy to know I'm not the only one with these issues. There are some hot mammas in my neighborhood and that has always made me feel even more self conscious about my body. Thanks for sharing, and for letting me share.

faeriemom 04-23-2009 05:50 PM

I'm back in my pre-pregnancy clothes now, at 6 weeks pp. So, that feels good. But I have tons of stretch marks covering my belly, which kind of sucks.

With son #1 I only got stretch marks on my hips and thighs. None on my belly. I guess I thought it would be the same this time.

I don't think about the new stretch marks very often (except when I'm getting in the shower and happen to catch sight of them in the mirror)...but I know it's going to be an issue once DH and I start to get intimate/have sex again. I'm already wondering how I'm going to hide it so it doesn't ruin the mood.

Thanks for starting this thread. I think it's important for women to have a safe space to talk about this issue.

jojobean 04-23-2009 07:49 PM

Great thread and I love all the responses. Just very real and pure.

Okay, so my PP body journeys. With my first I was vegan and nursing and actually got way TOO skinny for my body type. I felt great though, it was fun to be that skinny because I have always been the athletic type. This time around I am not vegan, have lost over 20 lbs (still 30 to go for me to), can get INTO my pre-pregnancy clothes...however they don't quite fit the same. I am mushy and not toned, with the loose belly skin. I have little stretch marks and I have a feeling that with the next child they are going to have a hay day. I'm inthe same boat as you GoddesJ with the pelvic floor, and oddly I too have a skin tag on my vagina. Weird.

Even though I am not anywhere near my pre-pregnancy body...I know it will come. It will take some time, and some discipline but it will happen. I take little walks and nutritionally just eat whatever because my DD is a constant eater. I guess I am not too worried about it at this point. Maybe in a few months I may be.

I am proud of my body and just amazed and the changes it went through to bring us our children. Our bodies are just so awesome ladies!

YayJennie 04-23-2009 08:04 PM

Originally Posted by GoddessJ View Post
I really want to stay possitive, because I felt so great after the birth about how my body was recovering. My partner reassures me everyday that I am a sexy mamma. For some reason, not that I have hit the one month mark I feel that I should be back to "normal" and I am noticing myself falling back into nagative body image stuff. I know that I have some work to do with accepting my body and all of the changes, afterall it has just gone through 9 months of making a baby and then having that baby move through my body. What a miracle!
I could have written just that! I'm at one month pp as well, and I'm feeling the exact same way. I put on 41 lbs, and am down about 19 or so, but my body is no where NEAR what it was pre pregnancy. I haven't worn anything but my yoga pants because I'm afraid to even try on jeans. I know I'm looking pretty good for just having given birth, but I don't look like my normal self, so it's weird. I feel really great physically, so it's hard not to think that I should look as good as I feel! Especially when so many people say that nursing just took the weight right off. That doesn't appear to be the case with me!

I'm exercising again, so that helps. And my husband is amazingly supportive, and thinks I'm beautiful. I've had past eating disorder issues, so I'm just trying to keep in mind that it took 9 months to put this weight on, and I have a beautiful, healthy baby boy to show for it. But it is definitely hard not to feel the desire to have my body back!

I would love to have a pp belly post! I took pictures at one week and four weeks, and would definitely post them.

JillyD 04-24-2009 12:30 AM

1 month PP here...and my body is...well, very PP feeling. I have to say though, it is better after this pregnancy than it was after my first. I have no idea how much weight I have to lose to get back to my prepregnancy weight because I actually haven't weighed myself nor am I sure of my prepreg weight. but, that doesnt' really matter to me much - i just want to fit into my old clothes!

I have stretch marks all over my belly (mostly from my 1st) but those don't seem to bother me much - probably because I know they will fade (i remember totally freaking out about them the last time around though!). My belly feels pretty soft and squishy right now and i'm a couple sizes (?) away from fitting into most of my clothing. I am giving myself time and am not stressing about it. I didn't get back to my prepregnancy self until about 1 year PP last time around - I hope it goes faster this time but I'm not oging to get all worked up about it if it doesn't. I think my body holds onto a bit of weight while I am nursing (so much for the "if you nurse, you'll lose all the weight without even thinking about it" theory)....but once my DD started solids, it seemed like I just lost the weight without much extra effort.

Anyway, just remember the amazing thing our bodies did...and that was not that long ago! It took 9 months to get as big as we give yourself 9 months to get back to where you started! right???!?!?!?

SaraC 04-24-2009 12:19 PM

This is my 4th baby and honestly I feel pretty good about my body PP. I am overweight to begin with and when I look in the mirror I see a body that has stood the test of pregnancy and made it through. Sure I would like to loose some weight but that is more for my health than for my self confidence. I know when the weight is gone that my body won't be what is was when I started having children at 22 and I am only 30 now. But I can honestly say that I can be happy with the stretched out stomach and sagging breasts because for me they do not add to my self worth. I just want to be healthy, active, and around for my children.

Altair 04-24-2009 10:01 PM

I was just thinking about this thread a few days ago while I was looking in the mirror... I may have a picture to post when I get my newborn family pictures back from the photographer, I think some have me topless.

I gained 32 pounds, and right away I lost 23, so I'm 9 lbs heavier than before right now. But I had a c-section (HB transfer) and my scar is kinda high and the way my belly sits on my body is just....weird. All of my PP body issues resolve around my c-section scar and how the fat above it hangs so strangely. I'm almost back to wearing my pre-pregnancy clothes, I even fit a few pairs of jeans, but naked I HATE the way my belly looks around my scar.

I didn't get stretch marks until 41 weeks, then grew for a week before I had him at 1 day shy of 42 weeks. They don't look so nice. But, I'm more convinced they will go away on their own than the scar and how it changes the shape of my belly.

marieangela 04-25-2009 11:05 PM

I'm 2 months pp now. I have about 10lbs left until I'm back to pre-preg weight and have been told that I look good. I feel pretty good about my body right now. I've had three children and have never gotten any stretch marks. I have a little pouchy belly thing going on that only bothers me when I compare myself to younger childless women or when I try to fit into my regular pants. Otherwise, the rest of my body pretty much looks the same. I'm hoping to lose those last 10lbs by summertime, but have some standby clothes if things still don't fit. I've been feeling the need for change lately, though. I usually get a new haircut when I feel this way, but I'm letting it grow. I'm due for a new pair of glasses, so I'll probably look for some new frames soon.

goodmomma76 04-26-2009 08:53 PM

crashing from April...this has been the thing that is bothering me the most. I had a CS the first time, and my belly was never the same, although about 5 years ago I finally got back down to the prepregnancy weight (she was only 9 ) I worked so hard to get there, I am afraid of not getting back there. LO is 3.5 weeks old and everyone tells me to give it time, the nursing will take it right off. I have only lost about 9 pounds, and have like 20-25 left to go. I am so hungry all of the time, I don't see how it will happen. LO is fussy, very gassy, has reflux, so I haven't had the chance to even start exercising. I have never really had a good body image to begin with, but it was better in the last few years. I am afraid the weight is going to actually make me depressed. And in my head I know that's silly. BLAH

filiadeluna 04-29-2009 08:41 PM

Honestly? I feel better about my body (overall) than I have in my entire life. I struggled with body image issues and an eating disorder for most of my teens and early 20s. I used to be average weight (healthy but thin & shapely), and that's when I thought I was huge and disgusting. I ended up becoming overweight b/c I stopped throwing up for fear of throwing up my birth control and getting pregnant (irony much?). I gained more weight after getting married, as did my DH. Then just kept gaining.

When I initially got pregnant, I lost 10lbs due to morning sickness, then gained back 25 total. I went for my PP checkup yesterday, and I've lost 30lbs! : So I'm actually thinner than I was pre-preg, which I suspected since I fit into pants I couldn't wear even before, and the pants I fit into before are baggy on me now. I have a ton of stretch marks now, and my boobs aren't as perky, and I have a little bit of a "Mommy pooch".

You know what, though? I'm OK with it. I want to lose more weight, but I want to do it healthfully this time - not just for myself, but for my daughter. I realize that my body is amazing - not for the way it looks, but because I created and nourished a baby for 42 weeks, made it through a difficult and long labor, and birthed a beautiful, healthy daughter. Now I am helping her thrive by nursing her with my body, and that is a beautiful thing!

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