Birth, Babies, and Body Image

I have tried to write this post many times over the last 8 months. It’s not that I haven’t had time; well, that’s not been the reason for about 5 months at least. It’s partly been fear and shame, and it’s partly been my telling myself that if I waited just a little longer, I’d lose more weight, and then I would feel better about sharing. But, it’s time. I made a commitment to sharing how my body responded to pregnancy. I made this decision because, when I got pregnant, I could not find information anywhere about how my body might look during or after pregnancy given my weight loss history.

Would my “bump” be round? Would I simply look fat? Would I get stretchmarks? Would the fact that I had so much loose skin make my pregnancy easier? How much might I lose after giving birth? Would losing weight be more difficult after giving birth?

Well, of course, everybody and every body is different. But, I wanted to share my experience. So, where were we? The last month.

3840-wks

I went into labor the day before my due date; my daughter would eventually be born on my due date. So, I am, in fact, in labor in my 40-week picture. I waffled back and forth on how much about my physical changes I wanted to document and share. But, ultimately, I wanted to provide an example of how a body that has lost a large amount of weight might look during pregnancy. So, I’m taking a risk here, and I’ve decided to share.

At my largest, I weighed 235 pounds; at my lowest, I weighed 117. I ultimately maintained a weight of about 120 pounds for roughly 8 months before deciding to try for a baby. After a 115-pound weight loss, I had quite a bit of loose skin.

prepregnancy

I was always frustrated that, despite weighing 120 and wearing a size 4, I would never get to have a flat stomach. When I got pregnant, I wondered if this “B-shaped” stomach would translate over to pregnancy: would I get to have a round bump? Would I get stretch marks? Would my belly button pop out? Or, might the extra skin and old stretch marks save me from anything new?

I gained 34 pounds during pregnancy: I went from 123 pounds to 157.

bellylabor

Here I am in labor again 🙂

I was pleasantly surprised at how my body changed during pregnancy. I did not get any stretch marks, and my belly button ultimately did not pop out. My bump was fairly round with a sort of small “curtain” of still-loose skin hanging underneath. Though I carried my daughter way far back, which prevented me actually looking pregnant for a good while, by my third trimester, I ultimately felt comfortable dressing in clothes that showed “the bump.”

I believe had I not lost all of that weight pre-pregnancy, I would have gotten stretch marks as I got MANY during the years when I was obese. I also feel that having been many different “shapes” in my life ultimately allowed me to feel more comfortable with my post-partum body even immediately after giving birth.

8hr2dpp

Many women say that they lose lots of weight in the first week or two after giving birth. This was not my experience. A lot of the weight that I gained during pregnancy was, indeed, actual fat on my body – not fluid, blood, or baby. My daughter weighed 7 pounds at birth; I lost 10 pounds total after having her.

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newborn

I maintained a weight of 147 – 150 for basically 7 months and have only recently dropped a couple more pounds. I now weigh 143 – 145. Breastfeeding did not assist me – at all – in losing weight.

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Behold my messy living room…

So, that chronicles the physical changes that my body went through. I hope that it might help someone who has all of the same questions I once had. As I said before, my body is my body – everybody and every body is different. There is no shame in how your body changes or handles pregnancy. So, please don’t look at this as some example of how your body “should” do pregnancy; there are no “shoulds” here.

At some point in the near future, I will share the far more difficult struggles I encountered with antenatal and post-partum anxiety, depression, and OCD. But, those are different topics for different days.

I can’t close this entry without, of course, sharing a photo of of our family: my how far life has brought us!

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Happy New Year, everyone 🙂

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