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.

4d1wpp

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.

14563377_10101477249472163_543253162986106472_n

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!

15235872_10101537529415673_6108089307413938670_o.jpg

Happy New Year, everyone 🙂

Advertisements

18 thoughts on “Birth, Babies, and Body Image

  1. Thank you so much for sharing. My son was born 5 years ago, when I was in the middle of my weight loss journey, so I understand some of the anxiety surrounding weight gain and body image during (and after) pregnancy.

    Happy New Year to you and your beautiful family, and I look forward to reading more of your thoughts…

  2. Your daughter is gorgeous and you are absolutely glowing in your funky leggings!

    Thank you for that. It’s been years since my children were born. Aside from 2 c section scars I can’t say there is much evidence of pregnancy.

    I really think stretch marks depend on where the baby sits…I never got any, but my kids each were born 5 weeks early. I had preeclampsia, so I gained an enormous amount of water weight at the end. I wish I had thought to document like you did…

    Thank you for sharing. What a beautiful family.

  3. Great job mama! I thought it was normal to have only lost about 10 pounds post birth? I went home from a 8lb2oz baby birth only weighing 10 pounds less.
    These women that lose a lot at first- they’re rare.

    I have post-partum anxiety right now. My girl is almost 3 months. It’s hard for sure but I have been VERY open about it as I know some people aren’t. Being open about it I hope helps others seek help as well.

  4. You wore pregnancy well! And you are doing great in your weight loss. Not only does every body do pregnancy different, the same body can do different pregnancies different! I had four babies, and four different pregnancy experiences. I will say, though, that when I shaped up after my pregnancies, it was the same body each time. 🙂

  5. I always found it took about 2 years before I lost the extra weight, so I’ll be curious to see your post baby body in another year and a half! Meanwhile don’t get rid of your too small clothes until then! One of my friends gave hers away after a year and later regretted it when she lost more weight. By the second year she could have worn them again! Love, Mom

    • Hiiii mom 🙂
      I got rid of a lot of my too-small clothing because it was depressing me. I kept those I thought I might be able to fit into again in the future. Besides, my goal weight now is not where I was before. I only want to get to about 130-135 and am in no rush.

  6. You looked wonderful pregnant and you look even more beautiful now. Don’t think too much about the kilos. Enjoy your beautiful daughter as much as you can. You WILL lose the kilos again. And probably gain them again with a second pregnancy ;-P .. I know I did. And I lost the kilos a second time too. Not in one week, not in two either, but it took, if I remember well, 5 months or so. 5 Months I now realize, I would have enjoyed more if I wasn’t so fixated on the kilos. But that’s easy talk, I know. I think it’s wonderful of you to share this. Never be ashamed about your body! It produced the most wonderful thing in the world: your daughter! Respect!

  7. I’m so glad you started sharing again! Your daughter is beautiful! You look great! Reading your story is motivating for me to do right for my body and health. 😊 Thank you for your words.

  8. Thank you so much for sharing, Mama. You look beautiful and you are doing great if you can post at all! I have a 2 yr 8 month old son. I Also had some PPD, and pretty severe PPA, so much so that I had to take a disability leave from work. I’d like to tell you that it does get better. Just take a deep breath and try to enjoy this time even if sometimes things seem completely overwhelming. It’s so hard to be a Mom! Anyway, you are looking wonderful, and your family is beautiful. Happy New Year!

  9. Glad you are still posting! I had wondered what became of you and how your journey has been going. Congrats your little one is gorgeous! Just like mama. Oh i lost 20 lbs this year and some of inspiration comes from you so thanks. We are in this together. Keep posting! Much love from Akron Ohio! Christiane7

  10. Thank you for posting this. I will be 13 weeks tomorrow. I was once 231, lowest was 183 before Xmas vacation. Anyway, I am really struggling this time around (this is our #2) with my body image. I don’t see a baby pooch, I just see my still fat belly. I really wanted to feel/be healthy before getting pregnant again and I worry that I never will now. I wanted to be able to take those cute belly shots and pregnancy pictures and feel happy about them. Instead all i feel is sad. I have no pictures of myself during my first pregnancy for that reason. Am I happy to be pregnant, yes. I just have to remind myself that I lost weight before this and I can do it again after. Take a deep breath and don’t take myself to seriously right now. Sorry for the rant. I appreciate your story and you and your family look great. Thank you so much for sharing.

    • Pregnancy is hard. It is so hard. Sharing your body, not being fully in control of it, the baby always needing to come first… it’s all hard. You’re not alone. And anything you’re thinking – any negative, dark things – I promise, you’re not the only one who has thought those things and yet come out on the other side. It’s going to be ok. I promise. If you need some support and help, that’s ok. I know that I did! And, that help was precious and indispensable.

      Remember: You are important. You. Apart from your family, your children. You are important.

  11. You have a beautiful family! Thanks for sharing your story. I had concerns about pregnancy too. Mine were about gaining weight. I was skinny all my life and hoped that pregnacy would make a difference. I was steadily 139lbs before baby, highest during was 156lbs AFTER a big meal, and 141 now. It took some time after having my daughter to be okay with being so thin. I’m 5’9 by the way so the weight doesn’t show on me. We often compare ourselves to others when it comes to body image but we did not come from one mold.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s