When I became pregnant with my second child, I started following an Instagram account called Take Back Postpartum. There, women post real images of their bodies, or share stories of the challenges they face in adapting to the role of a mother. I am often inspired by the things I see on that profile, and I appreciate the raw images of women and motherhood, especially those that highlight stretch marks and new curves. And while I love seeing these images and reading what women have to say about their changed bodies, I quickly realized, I simply do not feel the same way.
I began to wonder, is there something wrong with me because I do not accept or embrace the way I look after carrying two babies? Am I really supposed to love the fact that my stomach is still as big as it was when I was 12 weeks pregnant, should I like the protruding hernia in my belly button and my saggy skin? Is it wrong that my post-nursing breasts have left me feeling, well, deflated? I’ve learned many people do actually love these things about their bodies, and I do not judge them negatively for that.
Last week, while at the grocery store a man asked if I was having a boy or a girl. I quickly replied, “I just had a baby girl.” But, I didn’t just have a baby girl, I have a SIX month old daughter. A few days later, while out to dinner with my husband, the waitress asked if I was expecting a baby. I still look slightly pregnant because I have diastasis recti, a complete separation of my abdominal muscles. Let me be clear, this is not about the way others view my body, this is the way I feel. I know I am blessed to have carried two healthy babies inside this round belly of mine. I know the changes to my body were so worth it. I do believe my body is strong, healthy, and capable. I do love myself. Yet, in spite of those things, I also believe my body looked better pre-babies and I want my body back. I do not like my postpartum body, there I said it. So, it is time to make a change.
In the six months since having my daughter, I have lost all 33 pounds I gained and more. I do my best to get to the gym 2-3 times a week and eat healthy. Yet, I have done nothing to correct my core, the area that bothers me the most. While some may chose to love and accept their post-baby body as is, I am choosing to correct it. Yes, even if it means getting a tummy tuck or the mommy makeover, I am going to stop ignoring and start addressing my postpartum body. While I am not quite ready for surgery yet, I know there are things I can do to make a difference.
Step 1: Stop ignoring and start learning. I will be reading and watching as many workout blogs and videos designed to specifically correct diastsis recti. There so many many websites, videos, etc. developed specifically to teach women how to heal their core after pregnancy.
Step 2: Get out of my workout rut. Yes, I go to the gym 2-3 times a week, but I do the same thing every time I am there. I am looking to join a new gym or fitness program specifically for moms, where I can bring my baby (if I have to) and learn how to re-engage my core correctly. I also started T25 so I can be challenged regularly without having to leave my home or arrange for a sitter. It is possible to find time to workout with little ones!
Step 3: Do not give up. It is easier to put on yoga pants and baggy tops to hide my post-baby body. It is easier to care for the kids in active wear. It is easier to just think, “ugh, whats the point.” It takes effort to put on those skinny jeans and a cute top. It takes effort to blow dry this thick hair of mine. It takes effort to change your body, but little steps make me want to do more. The better I look, the better I feel. The more encouraged I am to heal, correct and sculpt my body.
Ultimately, I think the message of acceptance is beautiful, inspiring and empowering. However, for me, it is equally empowering to accept that I don’t accept my body in its current state, and find peace in the honesty. I realize my body will be changed forever, and I am ok with that, yet its important to do all I can to create the best version of my post-baby self.