The Truth About a Mommy's Postpartum Tummy

Here is to my first day of blogging on my 30 Day Blogging Challenge.  If you are new to my blog, thank you for reading!  I try to share a lot of family-friendly, healthy recipes with you guys, talk about balancing a healthy lifestyle with kids, work, family, etc, and as of lately I have been writing a lot about accepting your post-partum body changes.  Five months ago I delivered a beautiful (10 lb!) baby girl and I’ve been sharing post partum belly pictures from Day 2 (click here for those posts).  My hope has been that if I can share pictures of what is normal for my body to go through post partum then maybe other people will also feel more comfortable with their changing body after having babies.

Nearly every time I share a post-partum picture I get really nervous.  My heart races fast when I get ready to click submit, and there have been times that I never even clicked ‘send’ when getting ready to post a picture because I just wasn’t feeling confident enough that day to post it.  Even though I am really happy with where I am at in the post-partum process, it still makes me feel really vulnerable to put not-so-perfect pictures of myself out there for everyone to see and judge.  I think the scariest part of sharing these photos is posting them in real time.  It would be so much less scary to get back in shape and then share my post partum pictures.  It would be so much easier to say, “I’m back in shape now, but this is what my body looked like in the process”.  But, this entire time, I’ve really wanted to focus on making people feel more comfortable with what a woman’s body goes through after having a baby so that maybe they can feel more comfortable in their own skin and what I keep asking myself is how can I expect people to feel comfortable with their changing bodies if I’m not comfortable enough to share what I am going through?

So, with all that being said, I want to talk about something that is really scary for me to talk about: stretched skin.  Last week I posted this picture on my Facebook page and talked about how my 5am workouts are really starting to pay off.

In the caption of the photo I said, “The lower part of my tummy still has some work, and I am hoping the skin didn’t get permanently stretched from carrying two 10lb babies. Only time will tell what will happen, hopefully that stretched skin goes back to normal…if not oh well it was worth it.”

Since I’ve posted that picture though, I can’t stop thinking about how I wasn’t entirely honest in that post.  I was feeling self conscious when I went to post the photo and at the last second cropped the photo so that the stretched part of my stomach wasn’t really showing.  So, in an effort to be completely honest and transparent, I want to share this photo with you.  On the left is the cropped photo I posted with an Instagram filter put on it.  On the right is the un-cropped, no-filter photo I took:
So, as you can see, I still have stretched skin on the lower part of my stomach, but I don’t think it’s really very fair to say I have stretched skin but then crop that part out of the picture.

Now, are there ways I can get around that extra skin showing?  Of course!  When I wear my pants up a little higher off my hips the skin isn’t really an issue, and when I stand up straight it doesn’t bother me so much.  Am I really happy at five months post partum with the muscle definition that is coming back in my abs and arms?  You bet!  But, I do get a little self conscious about the lower part of my tummy sometimes.  I remember with my first son that I had this exact same stretched skin and once I lost a lot of the extra body fat the skin tightened up a lot, but it never totally went back to normal.

Anyways, I wanted to share this side by side photo with you guys to show you that 1) I still have stretched skin after gaining somewhere around 60 lbs (I stopped keeping track at the end) and carrying my second big baby and 2) Help people realize that it is normal to have stretched skin after you carry a baby for 9+ months.  I know some people have awesome genetics and don’t get stretch marks or stretched skin, but unfortunately I’m not one of them.

The whole point of this post was mostly just to share with you guys the whole picture from last week, and also to share that, yes, I get stretched skin and stretch marks too.  My hope is that as I continue to share these photos I can show you guys that there are a lot of changes that happen to your body after you have a baby, but that with proper exercise and nutrition, you can still feel comfortable in your own skin along the way.

‘See’ you guys tomorrow!

Your Friend,

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  • Great post! I am in the same boat (although not quite as toned 😉 ) and it was lovely to have a reality check. Looking forward to your 30 days of blogging!

  • Nice post! I’m so uncomfortable in my own skin. I wish my stomach looked like that and I’m 7 months post partum. Its like the weight is stuck and I just want it gone! I have 2 babies at home and squeeze in at least 30 min workout every day plus my full time job and scentsy and a husband!

    Do you eat 6 small meals a day? What is your calorie goal per day?

  • Your stomach really does look great. I can’t tell unless I get a side view of your stomach but you don’t really look like your abs separated. If not, count your blessings. It took me TWO YEARS after my second baby of doing full body exercises, staying away from crunches, to heal most of my ab separation. I look from the side like I have a kangaroo pouch and nothing short of surgery will ever fully heal it all the way. I had my third baby a year ago and breastfeeding has slowed down my gym time (I have a hard time eating enough to keep my immune system functioning properly) and my weight loss. I have 10 lbs that isn’t going anywhere until I figure out how to wean (my baby won’t even take a bottle.)

    My diastasis is down to about two finger widths apart and I started at four! It is good you are blogging and showing your progress. All we see are movie stars with perfect diets, trainers and who probably don’t breastfeed for long in the celebrity rags. It is so hard for women to keep up hope that we can have a rockin’ body still without all that. It just takes time. Worth it though! 🙂 Stay strong.

  • I stumbled across your blog only in the last month or so and I absolutely love it! Currently, I am 8 months pregnant with my first child, so I have been hanging on every word you write about getting back into shape post pregnancy, eating well, working out, and even your story on natural birth! Your articles are incredibly inspiring and I really appreciate that you strive to be so genuine. Thank you! I look forward to reading your next 29 blogs 🙂

  • I had a 5 cm separation Tristan and its now down to 3cm, and I’m 9 months pp from a c section delivery. How did you get yours down to 2cm?

  • I’m excited for your 30 day Blog Challenge! I really like reading all your posts, I feel like you hit all the perfect topics- So I hope this challenge gets you posting more!
    You look awesome, by the way. I’m 9 months pregnant with my first, and among all the hormonal thoughts that go through my mind, getting my body back is something that I plan for, look forward to, and stress about all at the same time. To see how freaking amazing you ALREADY look 5 months postpartum is the biggest reassurance to me. . Sure, you’re working your ass off, but you’re doing it! So thank you 🙂 You’re gonna look better than ever before long!

  • You are really inspiring me to get back in shape after I have my first baby in the next 4 weeks! A friend sent me an email linked with one of your other posts and I’ve been hooked since. Thanks for showing me some realistic expectations of how I’ll look for awhile. I’ve gotten lucky so far-even on bed rest for 6 weeks I’ve only gained 30lbs and overall have minimal stretch marks. However, the “hail damage” on my thighs is worrying me. Even with regular workouts a couple years ago, they were always my least favorite body part. I really don’t need any adornments to make them worse! Did you have this problem and did it correct itself as you went? I’m so looking forward to keeping up with you and your progress! You look great 5 months out and I can only hope to get half as far!

  • Man you look awesome! What I wouldn’t give to look like that right now ,my baby will be 5 months old on Thursday , I still have quite a ways to go ,I gained about 65 pounds and it always takes me a year to lose it , it seems to get harder and harder to lose , considering ive had 7 pregnancies 3 miscarriages I just feel like the weight to lose each time gets harder and harder , it was a lot easier in my twenties dangit!! I have five kids so I feel like it can be hard to find time to make meals that are clean, I still do it for the most part , but I feel like I’ve hit a rut with everything and have gotten really burned out with all the kids schedules and trying to juggle everything , what are some good suggestions of good quick meals and snacks ? That you would suggest ! You are amazing thanks for sharing your journey !

  • Hi, Natalie! I must say “thank you” for posting the un-cropped photo. My lower belly looks very similar and it’s nice to know that I’m not the only one. Love the blog!

  • Thank you so much for sharing your postpartum journey! I am currently 37 weeks and have been really stressing how to get back in shape after this little guy gets here. Thank you for showing me it can be done, but that no matter how our bodies look after, it is totally worth it 🙂

  • Natalie, thank you so much for being “real”. So many moms these days try to act like everything is perfect and awesome all the time. I appreciate that you took the time to go back and show the “real you” instead of the “almost” real you. Just so you know, you inspired me to put together a group of gals here in Boise/Meridian to do a fitness challenge. I just had my 4th baby in May (3 1/2 months postpartum) and wanted to get back in shape but need support and motivation. After reading your blog for the first time weeks ago, I saw that it is possible! I am hoping my friends and I can work together to get back in shape and support each other along the way. I will continue to read your blog and share it with my friends and family. Thank you.

  • You look phenomenal… I only wish I had those abs, “stretched”skin and all. But to tell you the truth,I can’t even tell the difference between the two pictures.. I think you’re so brave and honest for posting these 🙂 You truly are an inspiration to many women.

  • I think you look wonderful. Oh how I wish this information was available 25 years ago. But I am doing the best I can do with what I have. No one sees my tummy – a kangaroo pouch for sure which hangs :(. I started my journey about a year and a half ago and I feel better every day. It is not easy to workout almost every day but I do it and always feel better about myself when I am done. But I can tuck my tummy inside my size 6 pants and it doesn’t show. It is all excess skin – I wish Chris Powell from Extreme Makeover would do the surgery for me!! So all you young ladies – follow this advice and take care of it before you are in your 50’s like me!! xxoo Love the blogs – have read many of yours and look forward to reading them every day.

  • Natalie, I’m not a mom, though I hope to be one day. Trying right now. 🙂 thanks for showing the real and practical side of motherhood and getting your body back. I have had to gain weight prior to TTC since my bf % was too low, which is definitely hard to do physically and mentally, but all worth it in the end. Im not proud to say that i have been enjoying an extra fair share of treats, but its all for the blessing of a baby….hopefully. Thanks for being so open and honest in your pics and posts. Don’t shy away from giving us the truth! 🙂

  • Again, I spent two years doing a lot of full body exercises to pull my stomach in. Plank rows (about a year of doing light to medium weights and cardio to get my stomach strong enough I could hold it in properly for small amounts of time to build up to these.) Weighted squats (I used the assist machine, can’t remember the name, not a free weight bar. If your abs are weak, your form can suffer and you can put undue pressure on the discs in your back.) Squats into overhead presses. Two exercises that helped were leg lifts and side planks on the machine you lay half on, half off. I found it easier to pull my abs in when I isolated just a small part of them. If you try to use all your abs at once, you are more likely to lose good form (holding the transverse in.) If you want to close your diastasis, holding the transverse in is key key key! You will only hurt yourself worse if you try to do exercises without that transverse locked in place. I’m not a trainer. Just found this is what worked for me. I did have it almost closed completely after my 2nd baby, only a little less than 1 finger! 🙂

  • Thanks for posting this. My son just turned 1 and I was never able to find a balance of working out and still maintaining my supply since I had to pump at work. Now that he’s 1 I’m going to start weaning him and want to work on getting my body back. It’s so nice to see someone be real about the effect of pregnancy on their body. I feel like we’re surrounded by these celebrities who are in bikinis on magazine covers 4 months post so that then if we don’t fit into that mold (which I definitely do not!) we feel like a failure. I still have 40 pounds to lose and every day is a challenge for me to not insult myself when I get dressed or look in the mirror. Stumbling across your website has been really inspiring. Thanks for your honesty.

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I’m Natalie

Ten years ago I started out in the online world in the fitness space. I started blogging, sharing at-home exercises, and offering easy recipes. This turned into writing eBooks — one of which blew up in a way I could never imagine!

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