Some people seem to think that there's only one standard feeling for your body after you give birth to a baby: hatred. We're conditioned to believe that new moms should "hate" what they see when they look in the mirror, and that we should fight tooth and nail to get our pre-baby bodies back. (Get them back? Where did they go?) Yes, there is a lot that changes about your body once you bring a tiny little human into the world — stretch marks, the weird way our boobs shrink when we’re done breastfeeding, the stomach pooches that insist on sticking around even long after we pop the kid (or kids) out, the fact that our organs shift and return to position days (sometimes weeks) later. Yes, feeling different may be the norm, but that doesn't mean we should promote shame, either.
On one hand, we are women, hear us roar, and those stretch marks are beautiful, thank you very much. But on the other hand, I don’t think it’s that weird that I want to be able to button my jeans again, you know? Every woman experiences body changes differently with pregnancy and birth, and it can be hard to know exactly how to move forward in our new normals.
I’m definitely no exception. I struggle with accepting my body as a mom of four, trying to sort through the differences of what is “normal” for my body, what can change, and what I need to do to feel like the healthiest, best version of myself. Quite honestly, I’m prone to leaning towards hating on a lot of body parts because it’s kind of the script that women who’ve had kids are supposed to follow.
But when I stop to think about it, I also realize that I actually don’t hate every part of my body. Do I love my hair? Nope. Never have, never will. It’s weirdly kinky only on one side, it won’t hold a curl, and it’s the color of dog sh*t naturally. Do I love my stomach? Nope, and I never did — not even pre-kids. But those things really have nothing to do with how kids have changed my body. Those parts have always been areas I want to work on to feel better for myself. After having kids though, I’ve realized there are so many more things I love about my body. I love my dimples, a remnant of my mother’s on my face and the same dimples that wink back at me on my son’s face. I love the freckles that dot my shoulders, and I actually love those shoulders, strong and broad, that carried me through many a butterfly stroke in my days as a swimmer and carry my children around daily. I love my legs, strong and sturdy, that hold everyone up everyday.
The truth is, having kids hasn’t ruined my body, and in a lot of ways, it’s made me actually love it a whole lot more. I appreciate the simple things, like being able to go for a walk when just freaking breathing as a pregnant person was once difficult for me. Every time I drop something on the floor now, after being pregnant four times, I rejoice a little that it’s not literally a battle of wills to determine if it’s worth it to bend over to get it.
I knew I wasn’t the only mother in the world who loved parts of her body more after having a baby, so I asked 10 other women to share what they loved about themselves. If we’re going to end the body hate, we should start by celebrating the parts we love about ourselves.
And these women do just that:
Gloria Malone, 27
I love my hair and my butt. And they're actually the biggest things on me. I love them because they both take up space, jiggle when I walk, and make me feel big even when I feel small.
Maggie May Ethridge, 40
I love my breasts. I've breastfed for a total of 10 years. When I started, I received a lot of negative messages about how my boobs were going to look like crap because of it, but I heeded my mom's advice and ate healthy, wore a well-fitting bra day and night, and used oils on my breasts, and at 40, they look fantastic.
I know there is some concern about breast cancers and bras, but I do a lot of breast and lymph massages, make sure my bras aren't 'too' tight, and most importantly I keep an eye on my hormone levels and make sure I’m not too estrogen dominant. For oils, I used Vit. E and argan oil. Also, keeping the muscles of your chest strong help 'prop' up your boobs. I am a huge supporter of weight-lifting for women. I love it. And then there's what you eat- healthy fats like avocado, olive oil, real butter … we eat all-organic whole foods and that makes a difference too.
Chaunie Brusie, 29
Full disclosure: When I pitched this assignment, I knew I wanted to be in it. So while I was getting responses from other women, I thought long and hard about the things I loved about my own body.
I’m proud of my legs. I’ve been running since I was 13 years old and I have muscles from countless runs up and down the hills that divide my parents’ house and our family home. I’ve also recently taken up weight-lifting, and my legs especially have really responded to squatting. I love seeing my muscles grow and my legs are the one part of me that make me feel strong.
Jamie Kenney, 32
I actually love my c-section scar from my first delivery. And not just silver-lining, ‘Oh, it's ugly, but my baby came out of it so it's beautiful — love it.' I *actually* love it. It's so cool.
Olivia Hinebaugh, 30
Dude. I actually love my soft belly. Like, LOVE, LOVE, LOVE. My babies love it. These are stripes where they grew. It is soft for them to snuggle and fun for them to blow raspberries on. And it reminds me of my own mother.
Sarah Bunton-Lauer, 29
I love my arms! I was never the strongest person in the world, especially because I have a connective tissue disorder, but picking up and holding my sweet boy for nearly two years has given me some super-buff arms. It just reminds me that our bodies are crazy resilient and that we can do so much more than we thought we could in motherhood.
Kristel Acevedo, 30
I love that my body is long and flexible. Growing up I felt awkward about my lanky limbs, but now I really love them. I'm also really loving my pregnancy boobs lately.
Jessica Lemmons, 28
Believe it or not … my butt! I spent years absolutely hating it, but now it's strong. It’s always there for me. And it always makes my partner smile. I'm not saying it's flawless by any means, but I love it anyway!
Krishann Brishcoe, 31
Truth be told, I've been struggling with the way I perceive my body post-baby, and since my daughter’s now 3, I can't ‘blame’ pregnancy. But if I were to pick one, I'd say my ankles. Just kidding! My arms.
Lauren Hartmann, 31
My ‘strong German legs.’ I hated them growing up because I wanted tiny stick legs, but as an adult I appreciate all that they let me do and that they are the one part of my body that is always toned.
Images Courtesy of the individuals featured (10)