I Lost My Baby Weight In 3 Weeks But I’m Still Not Comfortable In My Post-Baby Body

post-baby bodyCan we finally put the “pre-baby body” where it belongs? In the land of urban legend along with Big Foot, the Loch Ness Monster and fat-free potato chips. It doesn’t exist. I fit back into my pre-baby jeans a few weeks after giving birth, but three years later I am still wondering where the hell my own pre-baby body went.

Before pregnancy, my body was pretty much unchanged since puberty.  One year I carried around an extra 30 pounds of beer and pizza weight during my senior year of college, but that is a small blip on the life of this body.  If someone saved out my outdated 90s duds from high school I would surely be able to rock them.  I’d look hideous in my high-waist intentionally-marbled acid-wash jeans (à la the original 90210), but they’d fit.

The past three years my body has seen more change than in my entire life.  It swelled in pregnancy, I gave birth, I nursed.  Then I did it all over again, right away.  I’m not holding my physique to some impossible or industry-set standard. I’m holding it to the one I’m used to.  My “pre-baby body.”  And I am having a hard time coming to grips with what’s left.

I expected pregnancy and childbirth to do a number on my body, but I wasn’t prepared for the full range of physical changes. Let’s start with the top and work our way down. My breasts went from a small C to a full C before I even took a pregnancy test. My nursing bras, Double Ds, were probably too small. Now after breastfeeding two children for a total of two years, I have nothing. I wear a bra only to counter the concavity that is my chest.  I am not talking about small breasts (which are great) or droopy breasts (which are expected). I am talking about what looks like a balloon animal a week after you brought it home from little Billy’s circus theme birthday party.  Deflated and misshapen.  I had no idea that could happen.  When the estrogen surged and the milk production began in my second pregnancy I was so happy to see my old friends once again.  Sadly, they went missing shortly after weaning my daughter.

Then there is my stomach.  The shape of my abdomen is something I can’t even describe. The curves of my waist are gone and they are replaced by horizontal waves of extra skin. With dimples. Yes, my stomach may be relatively flat, but it’s got dimples. They aren’t as cute as the ones on my daughter’s face.

Moving down, I am going to skip the entire vaginal area. Not because it’s TMI but because I would need to bring in an anatomy expert to explain what is going on at the baby delivery site.   What I will talk about?   My periods.   They are heavier than ever and the flow is so red it looks like something out of a low budget horror movie. Why does that happen exactly?   Nothing like that ever happened in my “pre-baby body.”  It’s all new and strange, yet I’ve been menstruating since I was 11.  I constantly wonder, “is this normal?”

Even my non-physical body has changed. I can’t eat chicken, which is a food I ate daily before getting pregnant. Now, just the sight of the animal makes me think of raw chicken and I gag instantaneously. I also crave dairy and I don’t think I’ve had a straight-up glass of milk since I was eight years old.  I’m not talking about pregnancy hormones which bring on far more intense, but temporary cravings or aversions.

My youngest is 20 months old.  Those hormones are gone. These are permanent changes in my constitution. My skin is drier.  My hair is thinner.  My body temperature has been elevated on a permanent basis, which is the only change that works out well for me.  Before having children I was always cold.   Now I join the ranks of the normal body temperature creatures and I am free of that silly summer sweater I used to lug everywhere.

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You can reach this post's author, Carinn Jade, on twitter.
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  • msenesac

    My son just turned 9 months old and so I can totally relate! I’ve lost the baby weight long ago by trying to watch what I eat and lifting 2-3x/week. But the flabby belly is STILL THERE. Not to mention the fact that my stomach and thighs have stripes from the stretch marks! My back has completely gone crazy and I have to see a chiropractor every 3 weeks (and I can’t blame it on nursing since I haven’t done that for months). I’m scared to death of getting pregnant again (we will start trying mid next year) and seeing my body further distorted. Despite being in great shape (now) I can not feel sexy for the life of me.

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  • outlaw mama

    Thank you for talking about the periods. Good grief, they are so heavy and so red. I fainted during my third cycle after my son. I feel so out of control with them and it’s got nothing to do with weight. And the C-section poof requires some affirmations to adore like I should. My body is amazing, it’s done amazing things, and will continue to do amazing things, but they aren’t the SAME amazing things. It sure doesn’t look or feel the same.
    Great post. Love the honesty.

  • Stacie @ Snaps and Bits

    Love this post Carinn! The period talk is not going to end anytime soon. Later, you get to talk about the wackiness of perimenopausal periods (like they are MORE frequent – gah!!)

  • http://twitter.com/LoveNLunchmeat Love and Lunchmeat

    I couldn’t agree more. Everyone is always talking about the superficial physical changes or the lack of sleep, when really it’s your pre-baby SELF that you miss the most. I do think that we grow and change regardless, but motherhood is a huge (all at once) shift.

  • Anna

    This is so true and I wish more people were talking about it. I too have lost the baby weight and actually went down one jeans size from before my son but then struggled with some depression and “what the hell” feelings because even with the weight loss, my body is completely different now. Stretch marks, crazy periods – check and check. The emotional/mental changes are so strong as well. I am constantly second guessing myself…great post! As always, you are singing the truth about motherhood!

  • boots

    Glad I’m not alone with the temperature thing though… I used to feel like a chilled frog all the time with icy hands – bow I have to constantly tell my mother I really don’t need the shawls she keeps trying to put on me!

  • erica mountain

    this reads like a horror story. i’m in the first trimester, having not yet carried a baby to term, and…frowning as i type this.

    • http://twitter.com/MamaHasSnacks Carinn Jade

      Oh no! Don’t read it as a horror story. I think that’s why many people don’t share their true experiences as they don’t want to scare off the future mothers. This is just one side of what happens. The rest – the joy, the unconditional love, the pride – I am assuming you have heard all that before. This helps to complete the picture. And truthfully, I hope to balance out the tabloid obsession with the “baby weight.” There’s just so much more than that.

  • Amanda Low

    So completely relate to all of this. I especially enjoyed the boob section, and now I know what I can look forward to once I wean my daughter. Floppy pancake-tit land, here I come! Thanks for that. But for reals, great article, Carinn! :-)

    • http://twitter.com/MamaHasSnacks Carinn Jade

      Ha! I enjoy your honesty as well Amanda. It may not happen to your boobs, my SIL still has a great set. But it’s possible floppy pancake tit land is one of your future destinations. Good luck!

  • Sam

    As nice as it must be for other mothers to relate to this article, stories like this truly make me nauseous. I’m uncertain whether or not I ever want to have kids someday, and this article and others like it are extremely discouraging and truly make me consider having a hysterectomy. I’m sincerely happy that this article is available for mothers who are feeling alone and self conscious, but this story and others like it cripple one’s desire to have children and make people question whether or not having children is really a good thing at all. It would be nice if such horrors were somehow negated throughout it.

    • Bee

      I see that as a good thing to be honest. So many people seem to want to have babies for the cutesyness, and don’t even think about the negatives. I think it’s great if peoplehear what it’s really like, warts and all. A lot of people might realise it’s not for them, rather than having kids just cos ‘that’s what you do’. If this makes you nauseous, then hey, maybe dedicating your life and body to raising another human just isn’t for you. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.

    • http://twitter.com/MamaHasSnacks Carinn Jade

      Every woman is different. There may be some things here you would experience, it may be all of them, it may be none. But as Bee said, so many people hear the cute sugar-coated side I think it’s only fair you see the whole picture. Nothing in life is black and white and motherhood is a gray mixed bag of the highest highs and the lowest lows. You’ve gotta take them all.

    • Leb

      This is one reason I waited until my 30s to have kids. By the time I got pregnant, I’d long-ago accepted that my cellulite-free size 2 designer jeans days were over, and that I could no longer pull off mini skirts and belly tees. And I didn’t care, because more “mature” fashions (like the classic LBD) that looked ridiculous on 20 year old me now looked entirely appropriate on 30-something me. Whether you ever have a child or not, time is still going to get you in the end, and the sooner you accept it the more comfortable you feel in your own skin!

      Which Is why I honestly don’t care if I never look good in a bikini again after my little guy is born. They make TONS of cute one-pieces these days, and anyway, as someone’s mommy who do I have to worry about impressing? As long as the hubby thinks I’m sexy, I’m good. He’s always been much more accepting of my body flaws that I have!

  • Hilary

    What a great article! My original comment was so long, I turned it into a blog post (http://hilarywithonel.blogspot.com/2012/10/a-response.html), but I wanted to let you know that I hear you! I am so glad this conversation is being had. Thanks for being honest and open.

  • Mary @ A Teachable Mom

    Yes, yes, yes to all of it! Thank you for sharing the honest nitty gritty. You’ve described my experience also – especially boobs and stomach. I jumped rope at an exercise class this morning and could have rocked an adult diaper. Apparently I really do have to do some Kegels! Great post!

  • http://twitter.com/that_darn_kat Kat

    I had 2 kids, 2 years apart, and even if I eventually get back to my pre-baby weight, I know my body will never be the same. I will always have a little pouch of a tummy, because of my kids. I have stretch marks all over. My boobs went from a full B, to a C with pregnancy, to a DD after my milk came in. Now, they’re Cs (the only good change that happened to my body). My hormones, however, never adjusted properly. I still have the cry at every little thing issue. I’m on birth control (and IUD), so that may be contributing, but it’s ridiculous. And the periods? The first year after each kid, I basically had my period every 2 weeks. Hell, with my first, I had basically an 8 week period (3 weeks of postpartum bleeding, plus a never ending period). With time, and the help of my IUD, I’m now having a 3 day (if that), super light bleed maybe every 3 months.
    I sure wish all these changes were covered in the baby books.

  • katydid

    my daughter is 17 months old and i havent lost the baby weight. :/ really, whats depressing for me, is that after my second (this was my third) I HAD gotten a pre baby body back, maybe not the same exact one, but a damn good one. I was thin and muscular, my skin was clear, my periods werent bad (ok they still arent, sorry to hear about that part for you, that sucks) and i was a full C which was a downgrade from my usually D, but i’d take it. After the last one, im 35 pounds from the post baby number two me and shaped differntly etc. but im just afraid even htough i did it once i wont be able to do it again.

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