There is no doubt about it, having a baby changes things. From your ability to sleep in on weekends to drinking coffee while it’s still hot, once baby comes home, there are things that we bid farewell to. One of the most drastic changes for many women, though, is dealing with body image post-baby. It’s easy to look in the mirror after we’ve had our children and barely recognize what we see in front of us. From loose skin to extra weight and stretch marks, we are forever changed, not just on the inside but on the outside as well.
With this in mind, Redbook had five moms to put on bikinis for the first time since giving birth, then asked them to open up about the ways their bodies (and their views of them) have changed after entering into motherhood.
Arielle, Farrah, Stephanie, Kanya, and Brittany, all beautiful women of different shapes and sizes, didn’t shy away from these hard questions. The responses that they give are not only refreshingly honest, but they’re also uplifting because, let’s be real– we are superheroes. We create life within us, sustain those lives for nine months, and bring them into the world. There is no greater feat of strength, and our bodies are to thank! That doesn’t make it easy, but it does make it worth it.
Farrah comments, “People did tell me my body was going to change, but for me, it changed drastically.” She goes on to describe a midsection that is unrecognizable and not as elastic as she had originally thought. All of the hard work she put in after having her son did little to help, and she felt like a failure. Despite these hard-to-swallow changes, she stood in front of the cameras wearing a bikini– she admits this is a sign of confidence that she did not formerly have.
Similarly, after discussing at length how her body’s journey through pregnancy and nursing was less than conventional and disappointing in some ways, new mom Kanya concluded with, “I feel confident when my son says I’m beautiful. That’s how he says it. ‘Mommy, you’re beautiful!'”
One mom, Arielle, said something that I think is, sadly, so true of many of us women at one time or another. She says, “I’m not proud, but I’m not ashamed of it either. I was really self-conscious when I was a size 6, and now I just don’t care. I have more important things to worry about. I used to be extremely vain, and now I know that looks aren’t everything. I have more confidence than I’ve ever had.” It’s a beautiful transformation of priorities, but what if we didn’t waste so many years of our lives hating the way we presently are, and focused on what is really important?
So much of what these brave women shared is not new information. It’s hard to watch your body change in ways you didn’t quite anticipate. But the part that we should focus on and take with us is that these moms, in spite of undergoing change that many people would call ruinous, gained confidence and self-love that wasn’t formerly there.
It’s true what they say– we are raising ourselves as well as our children.
Rachel is a wife and mother living in Raleigh, North Carolina. She’s a fan of good coffee, wearer of gray t-shirts, and is constantly starting books she will never finish. Her family is her joy, and she loves to engage with other moms and dads on matters of parenting. Her blog posts have also been featured on the Today Show Parenting Blog and Scary Mommy.