Weight Gain and Post Baby Body Issues

Last year, I gave myself a pep-talk about feeling fat and ugly. Many of the issues I was facing came down to me waiting for circumstances to change before making changes to my life. This is my progress:

weight gain after having children

I haven’t done anything drastic to lose weight; just made simple, sustainable changes to how I live. I move a little more, eat better and have enough treats to steer off the PMT emotional eating.

I didn’t put on a lot of weight throughout my five pregnancies. My weight gain was largely because of the medication I was on when I suffered with depression. However, my body did change throughout my pregnancies. And I didn’t like the changes.

Body image is an issue that is discussed in the media, a lot. On one end of the spectrum, there’s magazine articles showing how celebrities got their amazing bodies back right after birth. On the other hand, there’s websites dedicated to featuring real body parts of mothers, stretch marks and all. What mother’s feel about their body IS real, but I’m not sure these extremes really help.

Seeing pictures of gorgeous celebrities may provide some inspiration in the short term, but I’m sure they work very hard to achieve the results. Sure, seeing a post baby stomach that’s “not so bad as mine” might be relieving, but what about those who do retain beautiful skin on their tummy? Are they not as much a mother, even though they don’t have the scars? Perhaps they have incontinence, or hemorrhoids, or wanted a vaginal birth but ended up with a cesarean section. No, I don’t buy into it being a long-lasting positive thing.

For me I’ve had to come to grips with the many sacrifices of being a mother (which really is part of the joy of it all). This has been a process, and believe me, I haven’t always been all that gracious about the entire process.

The Process

1. Grieve

I remember finding the first stretch mark on my tummy. I cried. I had diligently rubbed oil into my tummy EVERY day and I had every hope that I would escape the scars. I don’t like my tummy, but I’ve learned there are much more important things than a flat, smooth stomach. However, I did allow myself to feel sad. To grieve the loss.

2. Accept

The next thing, I had to learn to accept that I AM WHO I AM. You know, I’ve always been quite envious of petite, small framed people. I could be described as many things but small isn’t one of them. I’m strong, and always have been. I’ve accepted this is part of my beauty, and I enjoy my strength. In the same way, I’ve learned to accept my post baby body.

3. Embrace

I embrace my strength and energy. I celebrate my post-baby body. And I seriously don’t stress about how I look anymore or my post baby defects, but instead be who I am. I’ve moved on baby, and it feels good. This doesn’t mean I always feel good about myself. I really don’t, but I’ve shifted the focus on my defects to instead, doing the best with what I have and sharing joy with those around me.

4. Grow

Once I shifted the focus,  I could see so many ways to be myself! I taught myself how to dress for my changed body. I worked hard to find ways to exercise amongst my life and made it a priority.  And I enjoy getting on with being the best I can be and sharing what I have with others.

I’m not giving advice here really, I’m just fleshing out things I think about sometimes. But if someone did ask me what I think about how mums feel about their bodies, and what we can do about it, I wouldn’t be recommending celebrity diets or the poring over “real” mum body parts. Instead of looking externally for ways to combat self esteem issues, I believe it’s far more beneficial to grieve what you’ve lost, accept what you have, embrace who you are and grow every day.

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Kelly loves life at both ends of the spectrum: wearing high heel shoes one day and hiking boots the next; sipping tea out of a pretty cup and slurping hot coffee from a camping mug; challenging herself physically and stopping for quiet unhurried moments to feel the wind on her face. Kelly and her husband Matthew seek to live a fun and adventurous life with their four children and pet bird.

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  1. says

    I do love this post, Kell – very wise words of advice.
    I remember someone once saying to me (after I complained about stretch marks and wrinkly skin), ‘Well, what would you rather? Your beautiful children or your beautiful pre-baby body?’
    No contest, really :)

    Ps. You are beautiful x

  2. Trish says

    HI Kelly

    While I appreciate your post…I do hope u realise how gorgeous and stunning u r…to me u r that small/thin girl- u have always been since I first met u as a young teen. I must not see what u see as to me u r stunning and could easily be a model. u always always dress up beautifully and are an inspiration to many of us. I hear u …about not just waiting for the weight loss to happen ( I have been doing that for a bit too long now he he) I love the changes u made…slowly and surely wins the race! ( I liked reading this as I have yo-yo dieted for years and years and have given up though for the minute- though health wise I need to be back in the zone) Thanks for the push…Have a good day!

  3. Emma says

    So true I’m learning this as well and i think as mummy’s we all need to learn to love ourselves just as we are!!
    Love your writing kel !!!!

    • says

      Slow and stead is the best I find. And not putting too much guilt on myself for “not looking after myself better”. Not being able to excercise as often I like is like sleep. I know it’s good for me and I need more but sometimes it’s just not possible so I have to do what I can.

  4. Lee Read says

    Great timing! You hit the nail on the head with this one!! I often give myself that same pep talk. Its easy to be hard on ourselves in terms of appearances. I have two healthy boys and a loving husband – I’d rather them than pre-baby body. Exercise and healthy eating has become a natural part of my day now. Thanks again. x

  5. says

    I am stuck in the “wait until I lose weight” rut when it comes to clothes. But, just yesterday (after my last pair of well-fitting jeans got a hole in them) I made the decision that I will spend a little money, get some new clothes and feel better about myself (even though I still would like to lose 10kg).

    I think you look fabulous in every photo I’ve seen of you. So, unless you are keeping the bad ones from us…

    • says

      You know, I spent a long time in the “wait until I lose weight” stage…until I had to realise that some of my “used to fit” clothes just weren’t going to fit anymore. I have to admit though: I still have some clothes that don’t fit me in my cupboard…maybe oneday. Until then, I’ve got some easy wear nice clothes that I feel nice in. I’m glad you’re buying some new things…nothing like it to make you feel a little better about yourself hey…It will happen…the weight will come off eventually xx

  6. says

    I think the problem is a society as a whole driven to valuing aesthetics, outward displays of wealth, a culture of comparison, and media-skewed perspectives of success that send an individual into despair. I myself like such trappings, but after being involved in an activity which seeks inner harmony for the last 28 years I am better placed to see what is more important to me and my family. While celebs are blessed, as you say, not all blessings can be found on a magazine cover. :-) Great post! :-) Colin

  7. says

    Very well said…. Your a wise woman and you’re doing so well in health & fitness, you make an effort and you realise the benefits :-) An inspiration…

    • says

      Thanks Kate. And thank you so much for providing such a great service for mums…What you do makes it possible for me to achieve some level of fitness while still caring for my son who’s still at home. Thank you!

  8. says

    I’m with Julie above – wait till I lose weight… its been 7months and I’m still wearing my maternity jeans refusing to buy a pair “not my size”… half the reason is cost, I don’t want to buy a new wardrobe of clothes to only have to get rid of them but in the same breath I’m cursing not having anything to wear and getting agitated at the same clothes day in day out. Yesterday I decided that I had had enough and it was time to get serious about being healthy. I don’t like “feeling” the way I do and I’m not just talking about emotionally, I physically feel yucky, tired, unfit, frumpy. 3 years ago I was playing soccer, running for an hour and a half centre field position and I had been working hard for a year and a half to get to that stage and boy now that I know what it feels like to be fit and healthy I need to get back there. Time is the enemy though. I’m only managing once a week exercise at the moment. I really have to set the clock and get motivated. Anyway enough dribble about me… boy I am blabbing on and I was gonna blog probably about this anyway!
    I’m thankful for your post – I love your philosophy its inspiring.

    • says

      I used to play soccer too! But I hated the midfield (because you had to be SO FIT!). HA! I liked being a forward. You know, you can even find great stuff at second hand shops. Sometimes all it takes is a new top or two to reinvent your wardrobe a little. xx

  9. says

    I have yet to have the privilege of having children yet (And I hope it happens soon) But I am like you Kelly, I am a broad and strong women who has never identified with the word small in my world, it is great to hear someone accept themselves for who they are and not what they look like…although it is important to be healthy and not obese, it is prudent to remember that not all of us can achieve the size 4or 6 or even 8 (LOL) that our super models portray as beautiful. I know from personal experience that you are so very beautiful. JJ x

    • says

      Your comment made me cry JJ. Thank you xx. That’s the thing, even when I really fit, I’m still broad and strong…and not a size 8! HA! And that’s okay. The world needs broad and strong people like us too 😉

      I happend to think that you are a very beautiful person, inside and out too. x

  10. says

    I was thin when I was younger but didn’t really do it the “right” way. I never approached it by choosing to be healthy. That’s the most important message I’ve since learnt. I am nowhere near active enough and still eat far too much sweet stuff but I am more than ever mindful how my behaviour and attitudes to looks, food and exercise, is setting an example to my girls. I don’t want them growing up with complexes. They are going to face enough pressure from society without getting it from home too. As to my own pregnancy experiences, I actually find I like my body more now, on the whole. I felt more fat before. Somehow I’ve ended up lighter post-pregnancy which has most likely helped my feelings. I have more of a tummy paunch than before but I actually like my overall shape now. Whether I can keep the weight off, I don’t know. I know I’ll have bad days but having the right attitude, as you outlined above, is key to staying happy and being a good example to our kids.

    • says

      I can identify with this Veronica. I too was very thin at one point. Massively underweight. My body looks much better with a little meat on it too. I think what you raise here is really important: about being a good example for our girls. It’s true they will have a lot of external pressures as they grow.

  11. Karen T says

    Ahhhh! Good timing on this post, thank you! I’m actually a bit teary reading it… I’m a tall strong woman too, my nose and ears being the only things you could describe as small! My 2nd bubba is 5 months old and with both my pregnancies I put on about 20kg. I’m struggling a lot at the moment with feeling negative about my body. I’m trying hard to change that self talk and be thankful for all the things my body does and has done for my babies and I…and my neglected husband occasionally 😉 Like someone said above, I have been waiting to lose the extra weight before I buy anymore clothes as it seemed wasteful, buy I have been feeling so frumpy and OVER wearing the same things all the time! I think there’s also a mental blah-ness about continuing to wear materty clOthes once bub is on the outside. After reading this post and the other comments I think it’s time to get a few things I feel nice in NOW! And a but I’d grieving might not go astray so I can get on with the embracing! One thing that is exciting is the boosies I currently am sporting thanks to my son’s voracious appetite 😉

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