Learning to Love Your Post Pregnancy Body

Natalie Hodson showing how her stomach has changed after having a baby www.nataliehodson.com

When I was pregnant with my first son in 2009 I gained a lot of weight (around 60 lbs) and had a big baby (he was 10 lbs).  I remember going home after he was born feeling shocked that I still looked six months pregnant!  I remember crying at three months postpartum, looking at a saggy tummy in the mirror and feeling hopeless because I didn't think I would ever feel comfortable in my own skin again.  And, I remember how I would feel jealous of other girls who talked about how the weight just melted off them with breastfeeding (I nursed for almost 20 months and never felt like my weight was just 'melting off').

One of my goals with this pregnancy has been to share with people what is a normal transition after pregnancy with your body.  But, let me also preface this post by saying that each of our bodies are very different and will respond differently to pregnancy.  Some of us will get stretch marks, some will get none.  Some will gain a lot of weight during pregnancy, some will gain very little.  Some will find it a challenge to lose the weight, some will lose it fairly easily.  It is one of the hardest pieces of advice to follow, but the best piece of advice I can give you, is not to compare your progress or your body to anyone else.  I have found that it never makes me feel better about myself when I compare myself to other people, because I always end up just finding my areas that I think are flawed.  The thing that always helps me the most is to compare myself against myself.  Cliche I know, but it is true.  Progress photos can help a lot.  Even now when I feel discouraged because I am still in that 'in between' phase where my pre-pregnancy clothes don't fit but maternity clothes don't fit either, it helps a lot to look at progress photos and realize that I have made a lot of good progress in two months.

I think with my first pregnancy if I would have known that most women still look pregnant after they have a baby maybe I wouldn't have felt so bad about myself.  I wonder sometimes if I would have had a more realistic timeframe for what it would take to lose the weight, maybe my 'self talk' would have been a little more loving in that first year after my son was born.  With this pregnancy (my 2nd child), I hope I can be an example that eating clean and weight training can get you back in shape, but one thing I really want to emphasize is that it takes time.  Our bodies go through something pretty incredible and it takes 9 months to form a beautiful baby.  For me, I don't expect to feel totally back to normal for 9-12 months and even the skin on my stomach may never be quite the same and might be a little softer.  I also gain a lot of weight in my legs and butt when I get pregnant, and unfortunately for me, that is always the last place my body loses weight.

The thing I keep trying to remind myself is that it's not a race.  With exercise and sound nutrition the weight will eventually come off, I know that.  Of course no one ever wants to have a lot of extra weight on them (I still have about 20 lbs to lose to get to pre-pregnancy weight), but this time around I am so much less stressed about the weight than before and I am a lot more loving and forgiving towards myself.  In my last blog post (HERE) I talk about my top five tips for losing that stubborn belly fat.  These are all things I am focusing on right now while trying to slowly lose this extra pregnancy weight.

Natalie Hodson showing how her stomach has changed after having a baby www.nataliehodson.comNatalie Hodson showing how her stomach has changed after having a baby www.nataliehodson.com

I almost didn't post this picture because I literally look like a crazy homeless person in that first pic.  At first I thought to myself, "What was I thinking taking a picture with my hair looking like that, big bags under my eyes, and no makeup?!" But, then I remembered I had just had a nearly 10-lb baby two days earlier, I don't think I had really slept yet, and I couldn't even tell you if my hair had been washed since I had the baby.  But then I figured, oh well, let's hope other moms will understand because they've been there before.  Just being real - no one looks pretty after they've had a baby.  And if you do, we can't ever be friends.  Ever.  😉  But, as you can see in these pictures my stomach was really big still a couple days after my daughter was born, and instead of being hard like it was during pregnancy it was soft and squishy.  Two weeks postpartum the swelling in my stomach had gone down a lot, but my stomach got stretched really big and it takes a while for your stomach, your skin, etc to adjust to not having a baby in there.  Two months postpartum I am finally starting to see some progress.  I am starting to see a peek of ab muscles under that nice little layer of extra fat on my tummy.  I have been taking weekly photos and once I do get back in my pre-pregnancy shape I will probably do a photo collage to try to share with you guys what a realistic timeframe for losing the weight might be.

The main point I want to get across here is that pregnancy definitely puts a toll on our bodies.  Your stomach gets stretched, you gain weight in places you may have never gained before, and you probably got some new stretch marks on your belly.  But, it doesn't have to mean that your body is ruined and it's really important not to hate yourself and how you look in the process.  You can get an awesome body again, but you need to be patient with yourself and know that it is going to take time and dedication to a healthy diet and exercise.  I think how we see ourselves in the mirror plays a big role in our success or failure.  I know that the days I look in the mirror and start to pick apart the things I don't like are usually the days I feel worse about myself and end up making poor food choices and having the, "it doesn't matter anyways" mentality.  Be proud of yourself for each healthy decision you make each day, it's the combination of all the small decisions that makes a big impact at the end.

Your friend,
Natalie

20 Comments

  1. Aww I don’t think u look homeless in the first one! I feel like you look much better then I did haha. Your stomach is looking really good Natalie! You’re lucky you have such prominent ab muscles! I had a hard time losing until 4 months post partum, when I lost 10 lbs in a month. My dd is ten months old and I have about 10-12 lbs to lose still but feel pretty good about myself again! I felt the same way you did after your first because of eel like everyone was telling me I would bounce right back and then I still looked pregnant for a while so I felt like everyone was judging me. So thank you for being so open and transparent! I know you are helping other women feel good and love themselves and setting them up to have realistic expectations!

    Reply
    • Haha thanks Danielle! I was mostly just teasing about that homeless comment. Great job losing your pregnancy weight! It took me a little over a year with my first baby, and those last 10 lbs were the hardest. I agree, the pressure to “bounce back” can sometimes be the hardest, and it’s one reason I want to try to show people that most people don’t bounce back all that quickly but that with time you can get back in shape. Thanks for taking the time to comment! xo Natalie

      Reply
  2. Natalie
    I always enjoy your facebook and blog posts and look forward to them daily. You are honest, positive and I love that! Please keep up the good work girl 🙂

    Reply
    • Aww Beth your comment put a big smile on my face – thank you!! Honestly it’s all of you guys and your support that keep me motivated 🙂 -Natalie

      Reply
  3. Thank you sharing this! I know that first pic isn’t your favorite ever, but you still look amazing for 2 days post. You are an amazing example. Pass it on.

    Reply
    • Thank you RunEatRepeat!! xo

      Reply
  4. Thank you Natalie you are gorgeous and I think this post will help so many people 🙂

    Reply
  5. Thank you for posting this and also the post about stretched skin. I am currently 4 months post partum and have been having a really hard time with accepting my new body and the fact that I’m not losing the weight as fast as I thought I would (or as fast as other moms around me seem to be) despite strictly breastfeeding and eating pretty healthy. I’m going to be nice to myself and buy some bigger jeans this weekend and not judge myself for it. It’s nice to know that I’m not the only one out there that didn’t drop the weight immediately. The media has us all believing that if we eat healthy, exercise, and breastfeed we will be back to pre-baby self in no time flat. I dont’ think that’s realistic. I’m okay with it taking 9months to a year to get back to where I want to be especially now that I know I’m not alone in it taking this long. 🙂

    Reply
  6. Wow! I don’t think I could have come across this at a better time! I am 5 months postpartum with my first child…an 8lb 8oz baby boy! I am grateful that you shared this as I have really struggled to accept my post baby body! Which is sad as I should be focusing on the growth and development of my tiny human! I am new to clean eating so I really appreciate you sharing your meal plans as well! Thank you so much for sharing this…it’s so empowering!

    Reply
  7. Thank you soooooo much for doing this. I’m dew to give birth in 8 weeks and after seeing the Duchess of Cambridge tummy so round on tv after having Prince George, I have to admit I have been totally freaking out…! But seeing this I now know it’s not so bad, I will recover. Thank you again 🙂

    Reply
  8. I’m pregnant right now… But love reading this before I go into getting stressed about my body after the baby comes. My biggest concern is not “letting myself go” during pregnancy… Are there any tips to maintain a healthy weight and be able to get the weight off quicker?

    Reply
  9. Thank you for posting this (especially the pictures). My husband and I will be starting the kid process soon and I am concerned about how my body will adjust and readjust during this process. Or, more to the point, I am vain and image conscious (to a degree) and I am worried about not liking myself. I dont have to be perfect, but I do want to like myself. I believe your post is helping me to gain more realistic expectations… and that is half the battle. Thank you.

    Reply
  10. I can’t thank you enough for this. My babies are 2 and 4 and my stomach is still soft and has a little extra than what was there before. I was 125 then got to 150 with my first, back down to 135 then back to 160 with my second. Now I am 133ish but for a while I stayed at 148. I am not one of those ladies that lose weight while breast feeding. I’m trying hard to feel ok again but my stomach embarrasses me. I have pictures I can share but I’m not sure how to get them to you. Maybe you can use me as an example too. It may help me feel better. If you want, email me.

    Reply
  11. I am 4 weeks postpartum right now and I gained 57lbs during my pregnancy with a nearly 10lbs baby as well. Today my family and I went to take out pictures with a photographer and for the first time I noticed how big I still look (about 6 months preggo)! I always new that I was still big, but not THAT big 🙁 I am pretty down right now and try to take in your advice. Unfortunately, losing that extra weight does feel like a race to me, although I don’t want it to.
    Thanks for being supportive this way by sharing your experiences!

    Reply
  12. Thanks for posting these.
    Dear Natalie,

    Here is the perspective of a single man. After 2 weeks, you looked better than the average girl. After 2 months you look like a 19 year old with no kids. Great job!

    Women need to remember that the most important thing is a flat stomach!

    Kirk

    Reply
  13. If you play them in reverse, it’s my last girlfriend. And she never got pregnant.

    Reply
  14. Article contains so many fruitful information which will be liked by the readers as in my opinion this is the best article in this category.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

*