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Body Image After Baby ~ Part 2

I wish I could go back in time about 7 months and tell myself to get a grip.

“No one will ever see what you see when you look at yourself because you are enduring two sensory things at once.

No one can ever feel the way you feel when they are looking at you. You, however, see what you feel.”

~Jennifer left this in a comment while I was at the very end of my pregnancy. I wrote it down and just found it recently! It’s so true.

In part 1 I opened up about the struggles I went through while dealing with the changes my body went through. From guilt, to feeling ridiculous and even feeling justified. I never, ever expected the amazing responses from all of  you. So I will start out this post by saying thank you.

After Ella was born there were so many things that were new to me. It was most definitely the toughest time in my life all around. On the other hand, it was easily the most wonderful.

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I remember looking down at my body in the hospital and it being unrecognizable to me. Not just in a vanity sense. I am talking all parts of myself. It was scary when I looked down and said to a nurse: “what in the eff is that!???” “Is it normal!?” Without going into too much detail about what I’m referring to, you can all just use your imagination. Or not. It was not very pretty.

I wasn’t focusing on the changes too much those first few weeks. Honestly I had such a rough recovery  that I couldn’t walk from my couch to my bathroom without crying in pain, let alone even think about exercising.

It wasn’t until I was finally ready to get back into the gym that it hit me. My body had really changed. I mean, yes, I had 10 months to deal with it but I was pretty distracted from the belly that I hadn’t noticed everything else. All the negative thoughts that went on in my head…were they my past illness coming back to haunt me? Or was it just human nature?

Losing Strength

I worked out until the very end of my pregnancy. However, the whole trauma of giving birth, my rough recovery, and not being able to workout for 5 1/2 weeks postpartum really took it’s toll on my body. It was very humbling. Trying to kill yourself in the gym right away doesn’t make it any better. Starting slow and easing back into it was key.Your doctor says 6 weeks for a reason!!!

Now I feel stronger than ever. The fact that I gave birth gives me a whole new perspective mentally, in a good way! I say to myself “If I can give birth, I sure as hell can do ______.”

Here are some of the things, looking back, I wish I knew:

Buy the right clothing

I became blessed with a 34D bra size after being a 32A for many many years. Honestly, I had no idea how to dress my new womanly figure. I finally had this bombastic rack and Jessica Rabbit hips, and had no idea how to flatter that. I couldn’t wear the form fitting stuff I wore throughout my pregnancy, and I wasn’t even about to try and wear something from before becoming pregnant. I think had I found the right clothes, it would have helped how I felt.

Exercise tops were the worst. I went the completely wrong route too. I bought babydoll tops that were probably the most unflattering for my upper body. I had to go with something 4 times bigger than I was used to and it was STILL tight. I have lost about 20 pounds since buying them originally, and guess what, they still don’t look right on me. It’s all finding what’s right for your body type and feeling comfortable in what you buy.

STOP NEGATIVE TALK

 

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When your husband/boyfriend/significant other tells you how beautiful you are, the last thing they want to hear is how much you disagree.

We can’t control out feelings, our thoughts, but we can control what comes out of our mouths. Even though Ella does not understand these types of things right now, I knew that I had to practice being kind to myself at a time I felt my worst.

Right before I got pregnant I was pretty good about not putting myself down, my body image was in a good place after many years of it not. I practiced self-love and tried to make a point of doing so when I was around friends that didn’t. So when I would get compliments post-partum,  it took every ounce of my being to not lash back with “ugh, I feel so gross.” Or “[insert irritating self-pity statement here].” For me, I believe it was the first step to accepting  myself.

Stop making un-constructive comments about yourself to others. Accept compliments, as hard as it may be at times. If someone takes a moment to say something nice to you, do you think they want to hear you put yourself down? As a person who has been on both ends of that equation, I can confidently say no. In fact, I can only imagine how irritating it would have been to others had I  constantly criticized myself.

At the same time, we are all entitled to speak about our feelings, no matter what they are. So, instead of passive aggressively taking jabs at yourself to friends, colleagues or your spouse—confide in someone you know will not pass judgment. Write a journal. Do whatever it takes to work through those feelings and hopefully it helps you to move forward. In my experience, taking stabs at my appearance as I get ready in the mirror all while Michael was trying to give me a compliment didn’t get me anywhere.

Writing down my feelings, or emailing a friend, sitting down with someone who understands…those are the things that helped me work through those feelings and see what he was seeing.

Nursing and Weight Loss

Your body is still doing incredible work. Despite what we hear about losing “so much” weight from breastfeeding; you need to take into account that your body needs fat to produce enough food for your baby. A guy at my gym actually said to me how he thought that was the most beautiful incredible thing. That a mother who’s body holds onto weight to feed her baby is more beautiful than society’s ideal. Everyone is different, but I found that many women had a problem with losing weight quickly while breastfeeding. In the long run your metabolism is higher and you will be better off. You just need to be patient. And you need to really make sure you eat enough, because if not, your body will hold onto it even more– and lowering calories can lower milk supply which is BAD!

Stop putting pressure on yourself

I know what I was thinking the first few months. I thought people had high expectations of me “bouncing back” so I put unnecessary pressure on myself. In reality, no one cares number one. Number two, I JUST had a baby. When I hear friends now who had a baby like 3 or 4 weeks ago, or even a few months ago, talking about being discouraged or how they “need to get serious about their diet and workouts to get the figure back,” it makes me sad because I had been there and wish I had just stopped to smell the new baby. Easier said than done though.

It takes time! Just RELAX!

If I could go back in time about 7 months I would grab myself on each shoulder and say “RELAX, Laur!” It get’s better. Just embrace these changes and things will fall into place.  One of my readers said it best…”I don’t want my pre-baby body back. I don’t want to go back, I want to move forward.”

Your body is smart. I knew I wasn’t eating unhealthy, massive amounts of food or binging on sweets every night. Overall I eat a balanced nutrient-rich diet, and I workout. Not every day, not hours on end, but I work hard. If I am not fitting into a mold that someone would think a “trainer” would look like after having a baby then that’s their problem. My body is going to look the best it’s going to look for me. And I can’t feel bad about that knowing I am doing my best. Being healthy mentally and physically. I have taken the steps towards truly accepting that and it’s a wonderful place to be.

IT GETS BETTER!

Everyone’s different. For me it took a while to feel “myself” again, and I’d be lying if I said I felt 100%. On the other hand, I would never, ever, ever in a million years take anything back. I count my blessings every single day. Nothing makes me feel better, or matters more in this entire world as when this little girl smiles at me:

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There are much bigger, more important things in this world than fitting into some ideal. I will continue to work hard, but not obsess. Eat a nutrient-rich diet, but not skip out on dessert. I am sure I will continue to have my moments…but I know what I need to do. I know what’s best for that baby and I want her to grow up feeling confident and beautiful inside and out.

I want to be a positive role model for her in every way. So thank you for taking the time to listen to me, you have no idea how much simply having a space to put out my thoughts and feelings, share them, and hearing yours helps me  continue to push forward <3

In case you missed it: Body Image After Baby Part 1

xo

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38 Comments

  • Reply Julie (A Case of the Runs)

    Great conclusion! Yes, there is so much more to life than the little nitpicky things — of course, try to feel your best, but don’t let it get in the way of what matters. You’re not going to wish you had been thinner when you’re on your death bed, after all.

    I must say, though, the change in the “rack” area gives me hope, ha ha.

    January 19, 2012 at 4:37 pm
    • Reply laury

      Thank you, Julie! haha…yea I never dreamt I’d ever have the issue of being too big there!

      January 19, 2012 at 10:04 pm
  • Reply Lisa

    Awesome part 2 to this story!
    Thanks so much for being candid and honest, and tell us what you went through. Although I have not had children, I can see how this story will help many women relate …and hopefully feel like they’re not alone.

    January 19, 2012 at 4:39 pm
    • Reply laury

      Thanks, Lisa!

      January 19, 2012 at 10:04 pm
  • Reply Nicole

    Laury,
    Wow….. Thank you for being so brave and really speak the Truth about a subject that I think so many women experience in their pregnancy and is so often kept inside, to oneself. I recently spoke with a women in her 6th mo of pregnancy who is really struggling with the idea of gaining weight and still feeling beautiful. She has “struggled with her weight her whole life.” Not only was she struggling, but she was totally isolated in that feeling and I think that exacerbates it beyond belief. I really appreciate you putting your Truth out there, and ultimately helping every woman know her struggles are not alone. If we support each other and we are honest, tremendous healing can be accomplished. And I give you a mammoth salute for stepping into dealing with the changes not only for a healthier you but also, to provide a shining, real example of health from Ella. I think that truth leads us back to the ancient wisdom that our children are our greatest teachers. Infinitude gratitude for sharing all this and hope to share it will some mamas on the West Coast!! xo

    January 19, 2012 at 4:42 pm
    • Reply laury

      Hi, Nicole!!! Thank you so much for your amazing words. Our children are our greatest teachers. It’s incredible. I hope the woman you are working with will find some peace in knowing she really is not alone!

      Sending you love from back here on the east! You are amazing and I know all those women you are working with over there are lucky to have you! When it’s time for baby #2 I will miss your classes!

      January 19, 2012 at 10:07 pm
  • Reply Shanna, like Banana

    Girl, you know how much I love this. What a fabulous second part to your story. And I totally hear ya on all the body changes..everywhere..and the gross/unexpected things that happened to both of us. Oye.

    Your postpartum tips are spot on. They really are. And though I had it in the back of my mind, the note about dressing correctly is really resonating right now. I’m wearing a mix of maternity and regular clothes and feeling a bit blah. I may have to bite the bullet and buy some new items that fit this new body for a time because it will make me feel better.

    Also, accepting compliments. Yesterday when I was walking my dog (and Sawyer), 3 random strangers separately remarked about my newborn and then said I looked great. I didn’t know what to say. I should have said thanks and smiled and felt great. Sigh..still learning.

    You are faboosh my dear..always!

    January 19, 2012 at 4:55 pm
    • Reply laury

      Thank you my faboosh friend!

      Yes, it’s so tough but you have to just try and relax because you are beautiful, and you will feel comfortable again. It’s a big shock at first, but really, everything falls back into place if you just care for yourself!

      January 19, 2012 at 10:08 pm
  • Reply thehealthyapron

    Such a wonderful post AGAIN laury! Love it! I have really been taking to heart what you’ve said and am finally accepting myself! Obviously, I take it day by day but I don’t want to regret one moment of this experience and whether I’m a size 4 or a size 12 post-partum, I know I’ll have an AMAZING little being to take care of. That is what is most important.

    So I have been spending time getting our new house ready, eating healthy, exercising (in moderation), and reading as much as I can about pregnancy! OH! and getting excited about the belly that’s been popping out! 🙂 I really mean that! Thanks for being there and kudos to you for coming so far! xoxo!

    January 19, 2012 at 5:30 pm
    • Reply laury

      I am so happy to hear it, Erin! Yey! That belly is beautiful so you should be excited about it! It’s been a pleasure chatting –you know I am here anytime you need xo

      January 19, 2012 at 10:10 pm
  • Reply Kimmie

    Fabulous! Thank you for being real. You eat right because you know what your body needs. That is huge! I have 16 years on you and, for the most part, am in OK shape. I am carrying some extra weight in my mid-section where it’s never before been a problem and I can sit and tell myself all day long that I don’t understand where it came from…but I do. I have been eating all the things that are bad for me, bad for my heart, bad for my skin, bad for my well-being. Skipping workouts. You are so real Laury and it helps me to accept that I need to be real with myself too. I am not 16 any more, I can’t just eat junk and not worry about it any more. Mid-40’s and I better shape up. It’s not about body image—my physical appearance that I can hide in my height. It’s about my health. You are lovely. You keep perspective. You care about those nearest to you and about that beautiful baby girl that you are raising! It’s time I find reality too. I love to hear you say that you need to take care of yourself—not just lip service of what people want to hear from you, but truly caring for yourself. Thank you.

    January 19, 2012 at 5:44 pm
    • Reply laury

      Oh, Kimmie thank you so much for this comment. It truly means so much to me. Words like yours remind me why I take the time to blog.

      I am happy to hear that you are taking the first step in leading a healthier life, which is saying what you just did–and to say it is for your overall health, not body image, that is fantastic. I wish you the best of luck! You are lovely <3

      January 19, 2012 at 10:34 pm
  • Reply Pure2raw Twins

    love your honesty! you are so brave for sharing this story with us. you are a great role mother for so many moms or moms to be out there!!
    I think not putting pressure on ourselves is key, we still struggle with that as well! but we take one day at a day and just do our best!

    January 19, 2012 at 10:35 pm
    • Reply laury

      Thanks! Yes, we put the most pressure on ourselves but one day at a time is right!

      January 20, 2012 at 12:01 pm
  • Reply Joy Friedel

    Laury, thank you so much for this post. It is just what I needed to hear. I too just had my first baby and experienced many of the same feelings as you. I have always struggled with weight and at times have been pretty obsessed with it. I was very depressed with the pregnancy weight gain. Its been 17 months since I had my daughter and I’m still about 18 lbs from my happy weight. I am however learning to accept myself and be happy that I am eating a nutritious diet and getting good exercise. The more I take care of myself, the happier I am. I just need to be consistent. Thank you for your transparency in your post. I too want to model a healthy body image to my daughter. My goal for pregnancy number 2 is to focus on exercise and good nutrition but enjoy every moment!

    January 20, 2012 at 1:38 am
    • Reply laury

      Hello, Joy! I am happy to hear you are learning to accept yourself more and more. It is very difficult, but I truly believe in the message of just focusing on caring for yourself and things falling into place. There was a time in my life where it didn’t matter how thin I got, I was so unhappy I never saw myself for what I was. Once I started to just focus on health and nourishing my body and soul it kept me on a good path! It’s not easy, and I’m not perfect; but overall I am happy but I will also continue to give myself reality checks of what’s important. It’s all about balance.

      Congratulations to you on your little girl!

      January 20, 2012 at 12:09 pm
  • Reply Maria@healthydiaries

    Another well written post! You should be SUPER proud of yourself for how much you’ve grown! I’m so glad your in a happy place now 🙂 Ella has the best Mommy and your such an awesome role model to her. I hope that one day I will look back on this post and it will motivate me to accept my postpartum body and love it. Thanks again Laur!

    January 20, 2012 at 9:44 am
  • Reply kaity

    great post, i no wen i get pregnant in the future n i get alittle discouraged i am going to look back on these posts because they are so true and honest. your def a great role model to her and other people and she has grown so much its unbelievable! time flies!

    January 20, 2012 at 11:22 am
    • Reply laury

      Thank you, Kaity 🙂

      Yes, she is SUCH a big girl!

      January 20, 2012 at 12:12 pm
  • Reply Shayla @ The Good Life

    My lovely, beautiful friend, this is such an amazing, heart-felt, honest post, love it!

    I just absolutely love the weight loss part where you talk about “stopping to smell the new baby” and not put so much pressure on ourselves to lose weight. I admit I sometimes wonder how my body will be after I have a baby and I’m going to remember these words so very much <3

    And the last part brought tears to my eyes, so so beautiful Laury. You are you and you're being your best you and that's all that matters – love it. And Laury THANK YOU for sharing all these thoughts and feelings with us…it helps in more ways than one for us women to hear this. I'm so very happy for you that you're in a better place…you are one strong, beautiful woman and a wonderful role model who I look up to you in your strength and I know your baby girl does/will too – she has one amazing mama 🙂 xoxo

    January 20, 2012 at 9:21 pm
    • Reply laury

      Aw, Shayla thank you so much. your words mean so much to me! Thank you!!! These are all things we need to keep reminding ourselves of. I am glad I put it out there. XOXO

      January 21, 2012 at 7:26 pm
  • Reply Jo @ mostlyfitmom

    Laury, it was so brave of you to put this (and part I) out there. Thank you for sharing your experience in such an honest way. It definitely takes guts, knowing that people can judge what you write.

    P.S. What a cutie!

    January 21, 2012 at 7:20 pm
    • Reply laury

      thank you 🙂

      January 21, 2012 at 7:26 pm
  • Reply La.

    What a GREAT follow up to part I!!!!! And these are excellent reminders as I’m 39 weeks on Monday! I can’t imagine my body after going through this a second time and I need not worry about it! Mama’s are ahmazing, and that means YOU! And let’s share a toast to lowering expectations and loving our babies!

    January 22, 2012 at 12:19 am
    • Reply laury

      Thanks, La! I can’t believe you’re 39 weeks! Aghhhh!!!! I can’t wait for you! Gooner is going to be such a great big sister!!!

      January 23, 2012 at 9:57 pm
  • Reply jen

    part 2 is as amazing as part 1… i cannot even imagine the struggle ost baby, but this is such a women’s issue in general. i think the most frustrating thing ever is getting that nagging “voice” to shut up forever. we know SO much about clean eating, and taking care of our bodies, and all of that, but its SO hard to not listen to that negative voice inside. imagine how many more useful and interesting ideas we would have if we didnt spend so much time trying to ignore and shut off that voice??

    January 22, 2012 at 1:18 pm
    • Reply laury

      Thank you, Jen! You are so right. It is so hard to quiet that voice. And our minds would be put to such better use if we didn’t focus so much on trying to quiet our insecurities. XO

      January 23, 2012 at 9:59 pm
  • Reply Kris | iheartwellness.com

    I friggin love you, girl!! I think you are amazing and you’re so full of energy, love and life!! You’re gorgeous!

    xxoo

    January 22, 2012 at 7:26 pm
    • Reply laury

      love you!

      January 23, 2012 at 9:59 pm
  • Reply Keri @ Blue-Eyed Runner

    You are so wonderful! Thank you for writing all of these posts. Hopefully someday I will need to read them again : )

    January 22, 2012 at 9:13 pm
    • Reply laury

      thanks, Keri 🙂

      January 23, 2012 at 9:59 pm
  • Reply Lisa @ Healthy Diaries

    Thanks for this awesome part ll Laury! I’m definitely going to bookmark these posts to read after I have my baby and will be dealing with my body issues! I know it’s not easy being so open and honest and I know so many woman out there will benefit from this!!

    January 23, 2012 at 3:11 pm
    • Reply laury

      Thanks, Lisa! Aghhh…I am still so freaking excited for you!!!!!

      January 23, 2012 at 10:00 pm
  • Reply Kelly B

    Just put a link to this on my style blog. Great post! So good for other women to hear!

    January 23, 2012 at 11:09 pm
    • Reply laury

      Thank you, Kelly! How exciting!!

      January 24, 2012 at 10:06 pm
  • Reply Jennifer (The Gourmetour)

    Thank you for sharing that you wrote down the comment I left you! As silly as this sounds, it makes me feel like I am positively affecting people when I comment, thus encouraging me to continue!
    These past two posts have been so inspirational to me (even though I am neither pregnant or a mother). Although most of your struggles have to do with your body changes post pregnancy, I can still relate to the way you feel about yourself. Makes me feel so much better that such a strong woman as yourself has a hard time sometimes too!

    February 11, 2012 at 12:02 am
  • Reply Baby Weight & Breastfeeding

    […] back, as I said in my body image posts, I wish I had just relaxed mentally and let me body do it’s […]

    February 21, 2012 at 11:24 am
  • Reply Emily

    Hi, I’ve been reading through all your post- pardum posts and it’s like hearing myself think. I’m having a really hard time about the weight even though I love my baby and know my body did an incredible thing. I’m super into fitness and clean eating so I don’t understand what’s going on… After my two boys the weight came right off and then some within three months. But now I’m 31/2 months out and I’ve only got half of it gone. I’m also EBF like I always do. I know how shallow and vain I sound. But it’s so mentally uncomfortable for me to be bigger. Did you notice any point at a certain month where your weight actually dropped significantly? I just really need eencouragement…

    July 26, 2015 at 11:31 pm
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