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What Happened to my Body?
November 12, 2010 10:09 am | by

As many of you have already commented, one of the biggest changes that no one shares with you during the nine glorious months of pregnancy is how many different parts of your body will never be the same after carrying a child.

My body changed slowly each day for nine months to adjust to carry my child and yet I somehow was disappointed when two days after delivery my body still looked six months pregnant. My stomach was saggy, spongy and deflated and my hips were wider than my shoulders. I expected it all to magically snap back into place like a pair of elastic pants as soon as the baby popped out. When it didn’t, I felt like a failure.
Equally difficult to accept was the scar that accompanied my c-section. Thankfully, a dear friend pointed out that ugly scar represented a procedure that saved my life and my child’s as well. Without that incision, we might neither have survived.
I don’t even want to talk about the changes from nursing four children, it’s not pretty. Let’s just say I’m thankful to live in a day where push-up bras and shape wear are readily available. I just wish I’d known about the Belly Bandit in the early months after my twins were born!
With my children being born so close together, it took years for me to begin to accept what was the new norm for my body. Honestly, I still struggle with my body image. On the inside, I’m still the energetic, athletic high school girl that wore short skirts, knee high socks and fitted shirts. She’s now hidden somewhere behind the mask of my new mom body. Adjectives like hot, cute and sexy have been replaced in my mind with strong, powerful and healthy. They are certainly not my favorite adjectives, but they are better than the negative ones that used to fill my mind.
It’s taken a lot of work to reach any sort of contentment with this body, most of it battling in my own mind, some of it through diet and exercise. I sometimes wonder if someone had taken the time to share with me how long it takes your body to fully recover from a pregnancy if it might have made it easier, if it would have helped me form more realistic expectations? Maybe not, I don’t think there is a magic solution to keep other women from the same struggles and insecurities that come with the changes that occur during pregnancy.
How do you feel about your body, post pregnancy? What was the most shocking change you experienced? Have you accepted your new mom body? What helped you learn to appreciate it?

About the Author

Heather is mom to four, born within 40 months (single, twins, single). She writes transparently about her chaotic household to encourage others through the twists and turns of parenting.



  • Liz said...
    November 14, 2010 at 2:44 am

    I gained a lot of weight while I was pregnant, and have never really been thrilled with the way my body looked to begin with so mommy body has been somewhat of a challenge for me. After I finished BFing my boobs were still 3 cup sizes larger than when I first got PG, and I still have a good 5 pounds before I’m at PP weight (1 year later), and at least 20 pounds before I’m at my ideal weight. It’s a process, but HECK YES my son was worth every moment of struggle. He is the beauty that I no longer have…and I am fine with that 🙂

  • MrsQriist said...
    November 12, 2010 at 10:13 pm

    Anonymous @2:19pm-I know about the kind of “hanging out” feeling down there. I can’t stand Kegels, they set me on edge every time I try, but I think it’s muscle tone (or lack thereof) that causes that.

    I am a big person, always have been, and I was lucky enough to stumble upon the “fat acceptance” movement out here in the blogosphere soon enough before I got pregnant that I was already working on a better self-image (this sounds so corny) before I got pregnant. I already had stretch marks and a muffin top pre-preg, so that was no big deal. I totally didn’t know that you could get horizontal stretch marks, though, those surprised me. Also, I have to admit that the first time my lovely little nursling grabbed a handful of boob and just picked up saggy skin, that was depressing, but maybe they’ll firm up a bit when we’re done nursing (still mostly EBF at 8.5 mos). I wasn’t expecting how jello-y my belly felt immediately postpartum, although I think sometimes us really big girls have it easier, we don’t look pregnant until we’re really pregnant, so we don’t leave the hospital still looking pregnant, just like our regular old fluffy selves 🙂

  • Anonymous said...
    November 12, 2010 at 3:19 pm

    Seems we are all in the same boat. I can honestly say I am not completely unhappy with my tummy and boobs after 2 kids but what I am a little concerned about is the “land down under”. I’m hoping I’m not alone here but it seems like things have changed a bit, like things are bigger and hang down. I did have 2 vaginal births. Sorry to be gross but I don’t know how else to describe it. Anyone know what I’m talking about here?

  • Jessica G said...
    November 12, 2010 at 2:39 pm

    I would like to say way to go for bringing up this topic! I feel like people never talk about this and we are all alone in our negative thoughts about our post pregnancy bodies.

    I lost all my pregnancy weight immediately, plus 11 pounds. HOWEVER, my hips were wide and wouldn’t fit into my old clothes. I too have the mom belly everyone talks about. But the hard part for me is my boobs after breastfeeding. I used to have good boobs (pre pregnancy) and now they are deflated and saggy. That has been a little hard for me.

  • Amanda Dean said...
    November 12, 2010 at 2:10 pm

    After baby number one (3 1/2 years ago), my body shrunk right back down. Within 3 months I was walking the beach in a bikini with perfectly toned abs. I was hopeful for this same outcome after baby number two… But no such luck. My daughter is 9 months old, and I have managed to lose all but 5 lbs of my pregnancy weight. Although it hasn’t been nearly as easy ad after baby number one. This time I actually had to TRY! 🙂 But even though most of the weight is gone, I am still very self concious about my stomach. There seems to be a layer of loose skin that I just can’t get rid of. It hangs over my jeans, and looks grossly “wrinkled” thanks to a few stretcharks. Ugh!
    Thanks to everyone who has posted! It’s greatly encouraging to hear that lots of other mamas have body issues just like me’

  • dannyscotland said...
    November 12, 2010 at 1:43 pm

    I feel the same way! I never had issues with my body image until after my (beautiful!) daughter was born. Now I look at her and think of how beautiful and cute she is, and I try NOT to look at me! My stomach is my biggest issue, as I know it will never be flat again. On one level, I’m fine with all this, but on another, I hate it. I feel like I don’t look like myself, and it’s frustrating. It’s something I work on every day to try to improve–my body image, not my body. I know my body as-is is here to stay (and who knows what it will look like when I have a second baby) and it’s just a matter of time for me to be okay with it on every level.

  • Anonymous said...
    November 12, 2010 at 1:42 pm

    I had three kids in three years (i’m older, the clock was ticking…)– No one told me that my stomach would look like a shriveled up scrotum sack for years afterwards! 🙂 It’s still spongy and gross. I wear larger baggier shirts. I am so lucky that dear husband is sensitive and whenever I complain he tells me that I may not be the girl he married, but he loves the “new woman” in his life 🙂 But I sure miss my Bikini-Ready Abs!!

  • sarah said...
    November 12, 2010 at 12:53 pm

    It’s been really difficult for me to accept my new body. I was 19 when I had my daughter, and had quite a difficult labor (I was induced, after being only three days late… that’s government health care for ya), I was pretty messed up after that. My daughter actually broke her clavical trying to come out, so imagine the effect that had on me.
    I think the thing that’s hit me the hardest are the changes in my breasts. I’ve been breastfeeding for over a year now, and they seem to be moving lower, and farther apart. I never would’ve imagined having to worry about this kind of thing yet. I mean I’m only 20. It’s been difficult for me to accept, especially when all of my friends are still perky… and stretchmark-less. This issue has even wiggled it’s way into my marraige.

    I weigh less than I did before I got pregnant, but my body is in such terrible shape that it seems as if I aged like 10 years.

    It has been hard to go through these changes alone. I definitely agree with you, I think that it would’ve helped to have someone give me a realistic idea of what all was going to happen to my body so that I could’ve had time to prepare myself.

    But for now I’m just trying to change the things I can change and accept the things I can’t.

  • Melissa Duckett said...
    November 12, 2010 at 12:42 pm

    Wow… we hit all my sensitive topics! I gave birth a week ago and I KNEW I’d have to go through this. I KNEW I wouldn’t look normal. I do wear a Belly Bandit and with that on I feel a little “wide” but I at least feel secured and not floppy. However, when I take it off and see what’s there, I feel pretty sad. I got terrible stretch marks, despite lotioning up three times a day during pregnancy (I was told I couldn’t stop them, I guess that’s right…). So I have those, plus my deflated belly to stare at. I definitely don’t feel pretty. I’ve struggled with borderline eating disorders (I can cut calories at the drop of a hat). So during pregnancy I never knew my weight and now I don’t exactly know my weight (I’ve tried to cheat and check). But my mommy brain felt like I looked so skinny so I tried to put on some prepregnancy pants, hoping I’d see a light at the end of the tunnel. Nope. So I’ve been devastated and wearing sweat pants ever since. I’ve been craving exercise, but a week out (and a vag birth with a giant tear) I can’t. Even walking far distances (like around the block) makes me hurt so bad. And I worked out into my third trimester! I thought that was supposed to help!

    I’m really trying to adjust that things won’t be the same and that’s okay. My husband is really supportive. I just feel bad because I know I’ll never look like I did pre-baby, and that’s the body my husband liked… (and that I “liked” enough). I’m hoping I continue to see some improvement. But I am getting a whole new appreciation for sweat pants.

  • Ryan and Megan said...
    November 12, 2010 at 12:30 pm

    ive had 2 kids in the past 2 years, and while i suddenly have 20 lbs i CAN NOT get rid of, and a belly that is much fluffier than i remember, i am trying to take it in stride. mommy is a tough calling, but one we were divinely given. its a very hard balance to achieve- making time to take care of yourself and to take care of the angels that have been entrusted to you. im still coming to terms with my new body, but i wont give up hope that i can reach my goal. it just wont be in the time frame i want.

    but i agree that no one really explains how huge and sometimes permanent the changes your body makes during/after having a child will be. but talking about it is a good start!

  • Ashley said...
    November 12, 2010 at 12:21 pm

    Of course I know in my mind that my body will never be the same again, but my heart still longs for a trim and sexy figure! After four kids in less than five years, I have to begin accepting that that much back-and-forth is bond to have side effects. I’m currently 7wks postpartum and still disappointed with how different things are this go around, things are pulling in as quickly that is for sure! Right now I’m just doing my best to see myself as my husband does and progress from there.

  • Anonymous said...
    November 12, 2010 at 12:10 pm

    I am an RN and I work with expectant moms who are of lower income and as a mommy and a RN (I am over weight I should add) my job is to teach them about proper pre-natal and post-natal care…I get a lot of ?’s about will “it” look the same and the truth is not if you deliver vag. but, it is not meant to be a pretty body part hence why it is hidden under multiple layers of clothing! It is suppose to give passage to your unborn child…
    now abt my body…I am unhappy…I lost 50 pounds just to get pregnant gained 80 (thank you Mr. Bedrest) and have lost 50! I am still struggling and my LO is a TODDLER! Life and my body have changed but the journey I am on is well worth the change and so I feel I have earned the title…”mom”.

  • Anonymous said...
    November 12, 2010 at 11:53 am

    Another anonymous here–but yeah, I agree — my perineum is NOTHING like it was! I also had a tear that required surgery to correct at a later date.

    My caregivers have told me that everything is normal down there. Ugh. I just won’t look.

  • Jill said...
    November 12, 2010 at 11:36 am

    I had an emergency appendectomy 5 years ago. I was close to ‘flat’ bellied again–at least I could hide it under shirts when I got pregnant. A C section 2 years ago wasn’t so bad. I decided that 3 months post baby I’d try to do some sit ups. Man, it hurt. So I quit. I kept getting these weird feelings, and finally this lump. Yup, my post baby attempt at exercise had herniated my gut. Abdonimal surgery number 3 when my daughter was 11 months old. I’m paranoid now to try to do sit ups or basically any form of exteme exercise, should I herniate myself again. We are TTC, but I am not worried about my mommy body. I have a huge ugly scar from the appendix, you can’t even see the C section (well it’s Under my belly anyway, but too thin and small to see), and then there’s my hernia scar. They sewed my belly button SHUT!. So yeah, I’ve been through the wringer. However, the surgeries: 1. saved my life, 2. saved the life of me and my unborn child, 3. kept me healthy and able to take care of my child. I’m proud of my ungainly wobbly belly. I can’t help that I had 3 surgeries, or that I look about.. 4 months pregnant when I’m not. I think I’ll worry about that when I’m DONE having babies. Right now I need to focus on my child, and not worry about something as silly as a bit ‘o belly hanging out. There ARE more important things in life. And hey, clothes don’t fit? You get to go shopping, right? Well, in theory anyway! Who has time? Lol! Anyone else love their body for how it has saved them?

  • Jennifer said...
    November 12, 2010 at 10:58 am

    I don’t feel my body shape has changed a huge amount. I was always pear shaped and busty. I did have a flat stomach however, and that is mostly gone. I say mostly since I had a 10 pound ovarian cyst removed 8 weeks pp. My doctor threw in tummy tuck for free. I am still about 15 pounds from my pre-pregnancy weight and hit the gym 3-5 days a week. Going from 12-14 after ten years of 8-10 has been hard on my feet. They seem to be drier and I have to grease them up or they crack. It will be a year since my surgery in December, I hope to be within 10 pounds of my goal by then.

  • Anonymous said...
    November 12, 2010 at 10:42 am

    One thing missing from your post is what happens to your vagina if you didn’t have a c-section. I had a very bad internal tear giving birth to my son 5 years ago and my vagina is still a mess. At the time I was trying to avoid a c-section but now, looking back, I would much rather have abdominal scars! Of all the things I miss about my pre-baby body, a fully functioning sex organ definitely tops the list.

  • Shannon said...
    November 12, 2010 at 10:39 am

    I bounced back really fast with my first, but then when I had my second, it seems that the weight is not moving at all. My youngest just turned one and I have only dropped 10lbs from when I was pregnant to after. My son was 7 lbs 10oz so basically I have lost 3lbs. I exercise and watching what I eat. It is very frustrating and depressing. I would like to lose about 30-40 lbs.

  • Anna said...
    November 12, 2010 at 10:25 am

    I was already overweight when I got pregnant and was surprised that I got even MORE stretch marks. I am working hard to try to lose another 50lbs before I get pregnant again. I have had body issues since I was a teenager and I got even bigger in college. I weighed almost 300lbs when I had my son 6 months ago. I have since then lost 50lbs but I am still not comfortable with my body. My husband loves me and my body which sometimes makes it harder because he is so accepting and doesn’t mind if I change. I don’t want him to call me names by any means so I guess he is doing the right thing! I loved being pregnant so much and can’t wait to be pregnant again. I just hope to not be as large to begin with. I envy the women that have a tiny bump when they start showing. I will never experience that.

  • Renee said...
    November 12, 2010 at 10:25 am

    After baby number one, I pretty much went back to normal thanks to a postpartum massage and nursing for 9 months, but I am not feeling as confident about the second child that is due any day now. I have to say that a postpartum massage is my number one suggestion to expecting mothers… a masseuse can push your ribs and hips back into place within a few days of delivering. Maybe in a couple days I’ll post again to let you know of the progress after the second child!

  • Bambi said...
    November 12, 2010 at 10:22 am

    I must totally agree with this post. I still really, to be honest, hate my mommy body. I never fully lost the weight from my second child so when my third was born it rather packed itself right on top. I stood in front of the mirror last night and wondered if my hips grew (i had been looking at honeymoon pics the day before. There are rolls where i never had them and things have grown, or sagged where I never thought they would. My belly button like the other poster has never gone back (i have a hurnia there and my muscles are seperated) I think it’s really hard for us ‘regular’ moms to get back into shape. We see all the celebs 6wks postpartum looking like they did before they had kids and it’s like, what!!!! I want to work at getting my body back.

  • Erin said...
    November 12, 2010 at 10:21 am

    I suppose it could be worse. I’m only 5lbs from my pre-preg weight (4 months pp) and I know I could probably be there and a few lbs less if I could ever get back to the gym! I’m definitely shaped differently now, which is weird to get used to. None of my clothes fit right and my shirts are all too short now thanks to breastfeeding! It’s worth every stretchmark though, and I’d do it again. 🙂

  • whocg23 said...
    November 12, 2010 at 10:20 am

    I was always super skinny as a teen and in my early twenties. Having that bit of loose skin and fat right at the bottom of my belly was killer for me. I look in the mirror, and that was all I saw. Now I actually have a belly. Then again now I am pregnant with my second child and I don’t even really want to think of what two pregnancies will do to my body.
    It is hard to accept what having kids does to the body. Even now, I still agonize over the saggy part of my belly that wasn’t there during the first pregnancy. It is hard. I think having curves now is what is hardest for me to overcome. I just want to hide them from the world. I am still trying to learn to appreciate my body as it is. I am just glad that I am not alone in that endeavor. 🙂

  • summerific said...
    November 12, 2010 at 10:16 am

    I have a severe abdominal separation (diastasis recti) from my twin birth. Since my organs are sticking out where the muscles have separated, I STILL look pregnant 1 year later despite having gotten back to my prepregnancy weight. I’ve learned special exercises to target the area and its improving but I still need to wear shapewear to rein it in AND control my new outie belly button. I try not to dwell but it’s hard.