I wanted to share with you a snapshot (ok, snapshots) of a time that is often hidden from the public: I’m exposing my body only two months after giving birth to my second child, in hopes of inspiring other mothers (and women in general!) to embrace their own beautiful curves, fat and stripes. Yes, some people might cringe because I don’t look like a supermodel, and they don’t want to see what a real life woman looks like post-baby – but I recognize it’s not my problem. 😉
When I google for post baby body images online, I get many images of “before” and “after” photos, many of which there has not been much of a timeframe between the “just had a baby” photo and the “after” photo. There’s a hint of bragging about how fast one can lose the baby weight, as if proving that the new mother is to be admired for having achieved what only a small percentage of people can achieve in such a short amount of time. It implies that these are the standards we as a society look up to when it comes to having a post baby body. It also implies that we must not look like we just had a baby!
You remember when Beyonce had her baby and she went into hibernation, and only came back out in public eye when she had her pre-baby body back? In fact, it seems that most celebrity women go into hiding once they’ve given birth. But who can blame these celebrities with the nasty comments gossip magazines say about their post-baby weight? I remember reading and hearing about the backlash that Princess Kate still looked pregnant the day she gave birth to George! Really people?! What were they expecting – flat stomach less than a few hours of giving birth? I understand that part of this hibernation period is to be with baby (which of course, is reasonable), but it’s very sad how the media puts a major focus on the pre-baby body needing to be achieved again, as if a baby was not carried in that mother’s womb.
In our society today, we are so fearful – no, let me correct myself…we are extremely phobic of fat and of change! We get seduced easily into society’s message that attractiveness comes in one model: young, pretty and skinny. There’s negative connotations to having a “mommy tummy”, and that it’s something ! It’s the end of the world if you are caught having post baby weight! We must look young, pretty and skinny again! This is just one way to be attractive, not the way.
HOWEVER, in a culture obsessed with perfectionism, it is hopeful to know that there is a gradual movement towards embracing bodies of various shapes and sizes, and this is the movement that I’d like to continue giving voice to. I was touched by the work of Ashlee Wells Jackson, a photographer who started The 4th Trimesters Bodies Project – “dedicated to embracing the beauty inherent in the changes brought on by motherhood, childbirth, and breastfeeding”. I was inspired to do my own fourth trimester photoshoot to embrace my beautiful new curves, softness, and stretchmarks two months after giving birth to my second child.
The thing is, I love my post baby body, not only in appearance with all it’s “perfect” imperfections, but also in what my body can and still do. It’s about looking beyond my appearance. Yes, I am significantly heavier than my pre-baby body, but it has not stopped me from being a powerhouse when it comes to working out and being active. I still have incredible stamina and endurance, I can lift heavy, I can get through tough plyometric workouts that involve burpees, jump squats and lunges with weights (or carrying my sons for weights!). I may not be the poster child for looking “fit“ since I don’t have visible abs (infact, quite the opposite!) and chiseled features- but I know that I am a Warrior! 😉
All gym bragging aside, my point is, I hold much gratitude that I am abundantly healthy, and I have an able and functioning body. I recognize there are many people who are not are as fortunate as I am when it comes to their health. By now, I am assuming that many of you have seen and/or participated in The ALS Bucket Challenge, or know someone who has been touched by cancer, MS, or some other illness, or know someone who has been paralyzed. If you have your health, then show gratitude towards your body. What you feel and think will manifest into how you show up in the world.
I also acknowledge that my body has been a home for my children, and continues to be a source of comfort for them too. My body is as sacred to me as it is to them. I continue to nourish and nurture myself so that I can be much more present in nourishing and nurturing my children. I love that my body is a soft place for them to climb, play, cuddle and rest on. I love when my son kisses my soft protruded belly. I love that I am absolutely comfortable in my own skin…now.
There was a long time when I struggled with body image issues and would have looked at my body with digest and hatred, constantly stressing about how I look, how to lose weight, fearing fat and calories, and spending endless amount of energy wrapped up in dieting – even when I had my ideal, perfect body!
So I’m done with all that. Today I celebrate my body at every single stage it’s in. It’s about stepping back and looking at the bigger picture. When I had my fourth trimester photos taken, I was aware that my body would likely not look like this again (since we are only planning to have two children), and given my healthy and active lifestyle, my body shape inevitably will change. And it has. I’m now four months post baby and my body shape is significantly different from these photos before you. I want to be able to look back in the far future and admire how much I loved and embraced my body when I was at my highest body fat. Many of us have little issue displaying our pregnant bodies in front of the camera, yet somehow we suddenly hide once baby is out. Our society urges us to be one way again (young, pretty and skinny) when we don’t have the “excuse” of being pregnant!
My wish is that every mother would just slow down and enjoy the process of their changing body on all levels (mentally, physically and spiritually). In fact, I wish this for every woman, with or without child. To stop fearing and rather to start embracing the fact that our bodies change with season, stages and age. So many of us fear gaining weight, forgetting that it is and can be temporary – it doesn’t have to be forever. It’s about taking charge of your health and letting your body take on the shape of what your mind, body and soul are thinking, doing and feeling respectively.
It is when we feed our body love and care in all these dimensions, just as we do for our children or our family/friends, that our body does what it’s suppose to do for us – be in our higher selves so that we can live in our passions and feel alive and free! When you embrace your health through proper nutrition and movement from a foundation of love for your body(as oppose to hatred towards your body), true happiness unfolds and deepens.
Let’s stop abandoning ourselves and instead, begin to return to ourselves to feel wholeness.
A special thank you to my photographer, Amber Reid Photography, for capturing this special time period.
If you’re struggling with your post-baby body, I’d love to help you feel empowered in your body! Contact me to see how we can work together. My Women’s Holistic Body Love 6 week E-Course starts next week, get the details here and join me!
Rosalyn is a Holistic Registered Psychologist and founder of Holistic Body Love. She has a specialization in Holistic Nutritional Psychology, a Masters in Marital and Family Therapy, and she incorporates the power of mindfullness into her work. Rosalyn is also a workshop creator and facilitator, wellness consultant to other health professionals, and a writer and speaker. She empowers females and males of all ages in their relationship with food, body image, and weight to develop body love confidence. Rosalyn is the creator and facilitator of her very successful women’s food and body image group programs of the past 3.5 years. She has been featured in Huffington Post, Breakfast Television, and the latest issue of Wellness Magazine.