Body Image

7 Years Later And I Still Don’t Have A ‘Post-Baby Body’

By  | 

losing-baby-weight-after-pregnancy

I am always amazed at the laser beam focus directed at losing baby weight after pregnancy. Pretty much as soon as my kid was vacuumed out of my uterus through  a hole in my stomach, people started asking me what my plan was for a “post baby body”. Despite being pretty disappointed that I hadn’t given birth to a 25 pound infant, I was pleased to not be enormous anymore, and since my worst fear was popping a staple and disemboweling myself accidentally, I didn’t exactly concern myself with heavy exercise.

To be honest, losing all of the baby weight ranked pretty far down my list of “Things I Must Do To Feel Normal Again.” I wasn’t self-conscious, and if I was, it would have been because my boobs were perpetually leaking and my hair hadn’t been washed in a few weeks, not because I suddenly jiggled.

If anything, it bothered other people. The concern trolls came out en force, and friends I hadn’t spoken to since I first peed on a stick had a list of things for me to do so I could stop embarrassing them with my manatee-like figure. For instance, some of them helpfully suggested I breastfeed, not because it was particularly nutritionally beneficial, but because ew those thighs.

My weight did drop though, about three months after giving birth, something that everyone was quick to laud me for. The fact that I lost the weight by taking long, furious walks to the entire Rancid discography because it was the only thing that lessened my PPD was of little consequence; I looked good.

Since then my weight has fluctuated up and down. Down when I was sick for a year as a preschool teacher to the world’s streppiest preschoolers, and up when I started staying at home. I went through a period when I felt like I had to lose all of the weight so that I could look like myself pre-pregnancy, before I realized that that was a complete impossibility. Why?

Well for starters, I’m closer to 30 now than when I was a pregnant, rapidly metabolizing teenager. Then there’s the fact that I had a baby resting on my pelvic girdle, giving me some awesome wide-set hips. Then there’s the fact that I don’t resemble the person I was then; gone are my piercings and dark eyeliner, and I don’t even know where I stashed my favorite shirt-the one that I made myself by spelling out “Fuck You” with iron on letters.Oh, yeah, and then there’s the fact that I couldn’t figure out why I cared.

I came to the realization that I was trying to lose weight to meet some arbitrary deadline; first to beat the “if you don’t lose the weight six months after you give birth, you’re totally screwed” one and then the “if you don’t lose the weight before you turn 25 you’re totally screwed” one, and more recently the “if you don’t lose the weight before you turn 30 you’re totally screwed” one. I could see all of the ways that I would be screwed, but what I couldn’t figure out is “why?”. What would happen? Would the mighty thunderous clap of my thighs bumping into one another cause a tear in the space-time continuum? Would my husband leave me?

He assured me that no, he would not. He thinks I’m quite pretty, thanks, and hopes that we will grow old together with ham breath and bon-bon stained fingers. I certainly wasn’t doing my daughter any favors by obsessing over losing baby weight after pregnancy–a full seven years after, no less.

So I can’t lose 10 pounds all these years later. So what? We’re a healthy family. We shop the perimeter and go on walks and play together. Somewhere along the line I realized that my obsession with weight wasn’t even for my benefit, since I’m pretty comfortable the way I am. It was more that I was concerned for everyone else–I wouldn’t want to offend anyone with my cellulite, the poor dears. Well, it’s a billion degrees in Texas, so I’m pretty much done making sure my post-baby thighs don’t make anyone else uncomfortable by wearing jeans in July to cover them.

I don’t go in for all that schmaltzy mess about stretch marks being tiger stripes, but I will say that after the hell that was my pregnancy all those years ago, I’ve earned the right to wear pants without Spanx.

Forget about losing baby weight after pregnancy. You want a post-baby body? Here’s the secret:

Have a body. Put a baby into your body. Get the baby back out of your body. Ta-da!

(Image: PhotographybyMK/Shutterstock)

52 Comments

  1. Tinyfaeri

    April 28, 2014 at 5:26 pm

    I usually wonder where my body is supposed to have gone so I can get it back. I’ve been trying to get into shape for me as I am now, but that’s more functional than looks. My feet hurt less and less as I lose some of the weight, and gain back some muscle. I’m stronger, I can play longer, my gait has improved, and yes, my waist has shrunk.

    And considering I had my first child at 32, judging by the 25-30 ranges above I’m apparently sooooo screwed, lol.

    • Rowan

      April 29, 2014 at 5:29 am

      I had mine at 33, don’t worry about it!

    • Tinyfaeri

      April 29, 2014 at 10:58 am

      ZOMG, we’re BOTH SCREWED! 😉

    • Rowan

      April 30, 2014 at 1:41 am

      I plan on using the baby weight excuse til I hit menopause.

  2. Butt Trophy Recipient

    April 28, 2014 at 5:28 pm

    I think all of you should post bikini pics from your college days for comparison.

    • Valerie

      April 28, 2014 at 5:44 pm

      The sad part is back then, I thought I was fucking fat so I refused to take any. But I was not fat. At all. I would never wear clothes again if I could have my college body back. Le sigh.

    • Butt Trophy Recipient

      April 28, 2014 at 5:51 pm

      Well, it’s not too late. Post pics of you right now as if you had a college body. See you in 5 mins.

    • Valerie

      April 28, 2014 at 5:53 pm

      Wait until we’re married. What do you take me for!?

    • Butt Trophy Recipient

      April 28, 2014 at 5:59 pm

      I want an inspection before we close escrow.

    • Valerie

      April 28, 2014 at 6:04 pm

      First things first. Need a first name and at least what time zone you are in.

    • Butt Trophy Recipient

      April 28, 2014 at 6:29 pm

      >:(

      No!

    • Valerie

      April 28, 2014 at 6:30 pm

      Surely you know I’m joking. I know how you roll with the identity thing, Bruce Wayne. 🙂

    • Butt Trophy Recipient

      April 28, 2014 at 6:44 pm

      I’m Bethman!

    • Valerie

      April 28, 2014 at 6:45 pm

      I KNEW IT!!

    • Megan Zander

      April 28, 2014 at 6:50 pm

      What if this whole time, Butt is actually George Clooney?

    • Butt Trophy Recipient

      April 28, 2014 at 7:06 pm

      Possibly one of the worst thing I’ve ever been called on the internet….

    • Valerie

      April 28, 2014 at 7:23 pm

      George Clooney?!

    • Butt Trophy Recipient

      April 28, 2014 at 7:27 pm

      Yea… so mean…

    • Valerie

      April 28, 2014 at 7:52 pm

      Who would you rather be called in the celeb world?

    • Sarah

      April 28, 2014 at 8:32 pm

      In the immortal words of Baz Luhrmann:

      Enjoy the power and beauty of your youth, oh, never mind
      You will not understand the power and beauty of your youth
      Until they’ve faded but trust me, in 20 years, you’ll look back
      At photos of yourself and recall in a way you can’t grasp now
      How much possibility lay before you and how fabulous you really looked
      You are not as fat as you imagine

    • Valerie

      April 28, 2014 at 9:22 pm

      So much this.

  3. brebay

    April 28, 2014 at 5:35 pm

    I didn’t do anything and was back to my pre-preg weight three weeks later when they weighed me for anesthesia for surgery. WAIT! My only point is, I think it’s totally genetic. So women who pat themselves on the back for “getting their body back” May as well go on about how hard they worked to have 5 toes on each foot. It’s like that. Short of morbid obesity, you pretty much end up where your genes put you.

    • Theresa Edwards

      April 28, 2014 at 5:42 pm

      I don’t want to brag, but I have five fingers on each hand, too.

    • Butt Trophy Recipient

      April 28, 2014 at 5:52 pm

      Polydactylics scoffs at you and your braggy hands

    • Bethany Ramos

      April 29, 2014 at 5:53 pm

      #fingerbrag

    • Linzon

      April 28, 2014 at 6:02 pm

      Yeah, I come from a family of busty short women with big ol’ child bearing hips. It doesn’t matter how much I starve myself or exercise, I’m never going to be a size tiny. I can, however, shoot babies out like a cannon.

    • FormerlyKnownAsWendy

      April 28, 2014 at 9:00 pm

      Oh my God, me too. Going to quote you on “Shoot babies out like a cannon” from here on out. 🙂

    • Sarah

      April 28, 2014 at 8:29 pm

      Same. It’s just like women who brag about not getting any stretch marks. IT’S GENETIC, this is not an accomplishment!

    • brebay

      April 28, 2014 at 9:38 pm

      Exactly. Or they swear by some magic lotion they used: “I used cocoa butter and I didn’t get stretch marks, therefore cocoa butter prevents stretch marks.” That’s like those “vitamins” you can buy to have a girl or a boy…yeah, they work about half the time…Stretch marks occur at a layer of the skin you can’t reach with anything topical. If you didn’t get them, it’s because your genes, weight, and age were whatever they were.

  4. Coby

    April 28, 2014 at 5:51 pm

    I would like to point out that some of the What We’re Reading links to this article are “How to detox and lose weight while feeling great” from Joyus and 10 best Weight Watchers Recipes – Ever from Food.com.

    Niiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiice.

  5. Anna Cinneide

    April 28, 2014 at 5:52 pm

    I’m glad you posted this. My “baby” turns 6 soon and I’m finally starting to accept that the loose skin on my stomach is never going to go away. I’m at a healthy weight and am close to the fittest I’ve ever been, but that skin ain’t going anywhere. Sigh…oh well, I never liked bikinis anyway!

  6. Rachel Sea

    April 28, 2014 at 5:58 pm

    I was once pregnant for 5 months, 20 years ago, and even though my weight went right back, my body was changed. My nipples are bigger, my belly has stretch marks, my hips make me look like a cello if I have a momentary lapse of sanity and try-on a pencil skirt – as well they should. After all those hormones, and providing temporary housing to a developing human why wouldn’t I look different?

  7. K.

    April 28, 2014 at 5:59 pm

    The whole idea of “body after baby,” as in “return to the way I was” or “destroy all trace of baby” makes sense for Hollywoodites who have to maintain their relevance through youth and beauty as long as possible (and have the surgeons, trainers, dieticians, chefs, money AND future financial incentives to do so); it’s pretty unfair standard for the average woman, who should be allowed to change. Having a baby is a big change. My body DID return to my pre-pregnancy weight, but it is changed. There are stretch marks, wider hips and bigger feet, bigger breasts, and a kind of general all-around fleshiness. I exercise every day; I eat a plant-based diet, and so far, I’m still a lot more tummy than I was. Part of this is just the physical toll that pregnancy has on the female body, but it’s also related to the fact that my pre-baby body was the body that went with a different sort of life, one that didn’t involve getting up in the middle of the night and breastfeeding and getting sick more often, or cramming exercise in when I can as opposed to doing a 90-minute yoga class whenever. Your life changes, your body probably changes, too.

    But one thing that I am proud of is deciding that—from the day I knew I was pregnant—I was going to kick my body hang-ups to the curb. And I was going to do it for my son, who didn’t need to grow up with the same hang-ups and who also didn’t need to learn that women should be valued according to their physical beauty. Being happy with myself is kind of a lofty goal and one I still struggle with, but I’m giving it a huge effort. I willfully remind myself every day that I am a changing being and whatever I am today is ok. And I gotta say—some women I know are mired in the whole “get my body back!” craze and while I admire their commitment, the quest does not appear to be making them happy. Instead, it appears to be making them miserable or frustrated even those who have achieved their pre-baby form still begrudgingly deal with maintenance or fixate on that last little wobbly bit. I don’t have their resolve or their flat stomachs, but I think I’m way more happy than them in general, stretch marks included.

    So, sayonara “pre-baby body”…What’s on the menu for today?

    • brebay

      April 28, 2014 at 7:04 pm

      Hollywood is not the only place where a woman’s looks affect her earning potential, sadly. Not eeeeeeven close!

  8. Natasha B

    April 28, 2014 at 6:10 pm

    Can I do a standing slow clap?! AMEN. I aim for healthy and can chase after my toddlers without huffing and puffing, over the hawtness that my 21yo self was. And hubs still tries to hit it on the daily, so I think I’m good.

    • Valerie

      April 28, 2014 at 6:43 pm

      Lol. Mine too. I’m always like “love really is blind, isn’t it?” 😉

  9. Julia Sonenshein

    April 28, 2014 at 6:21 pm

    This is so great, T. That’s just all I have to say on the matter.

    • Theresa Edwards

      April 28, 2014 at 6:32 pm

      this made my heart happy.

    • Bethany Ramos

      April 29, 2014 at 5:54 pm

      Theresa is great!!

  10. Edify

    April 28, 2014 at 7:10 pm

    Did you have a baby? If the answer is yes, you have a post baby body. Shouldn’t that be simple?

  11. Ms. Anne

    April 28, 2014 at 7:31 pm

    “What would happen? Would the mighty thunderous clap of my thighs bumping
    into one another cause a tear in the space-time continuum?”

    I love you. I want this on a plaque on my kitchen wall. I was a skinny 20-something and a thin 30-something, and it took me a while to come to terms with my body after my kid was born. I got down to my “pre-baby” weight pretty quickly, but it was all in different places, and softer. Now, I’m 15 lbs over that and stronger, faster, and more fit than I was before and my new bigger self is something to be proud of, not to hide. And if I look a little bit like an R. Crumb drawing? I’m okay with that.

  12. Jennifer Freeman

    April 28, 2014 at 8:09 pm

    I am six months post-partum and things ain’t where they used to be. I’ve come to accept the squishy midsection and decided to celebrate the fact the my butt looks fantastic in running tights.

  13. Kitsune

    April 28, 2014 at 10:47 pm

    I really admire women who feel this way. I wish I could but I hate my post birth body. I’m trying to not be so hard on myself, I keep telling myself it has only been a little less than five months but I avoid mirrors so I don’t have to look at myself. I actually weigh less than I did pre-pregnancy through genetics and luck, but I’m all squishy and floppy and feel gross. I would never be so harsh on another person as I am on myself. I’m starting some yoga on Monday and now that it’s nice I can start walking again so I’m hoping that all helps. Sorry to bring the tone down but I thought it might be safe to vent here.

    • Anna Cinneide

      April 29, 2014 at 6:49 am

      It will get a lot better. For me it was well over a year before I stopped feeling so squishy. Like I said, the loose skin for me is not going to go away, but on the bright side all the underlying muscles have shrunk and I don’t feel “floppy” anymore.

    • Meg13

      April 29, 2014 at 9:03 am

      You are not alone, I HATE my post birth body but I’m slowly getting over it. I was very tiny before I got pregnant and loved my stomach but being 30+ plus having twins has totally destroyed my stomach. My mom bounced right back after her pregnancies so I stupidly thought I would do the same. I’m back to my pre-pregnancy weight for the most part but squishy (and twin skin, YUCK!).

  14. CW

    April 28, 2014 at 10:58 pm

    I bounced back extremely quickly after #1 (ah, being 25) and fairly quickly after #2 (ah, being 28) but it took me a year to lose the baby weight after #3 and I’ve been yo-yoing on the last 10 lbs. in the 4 years since (gee thanks, 30’s). I can lose it when I’m super-motivated but unless I way obsess over it way more than is worth it long-term, it won’t stay off. I’ve got my 20 year high school reunion in December followed by my brother-in-law’s wedding in January so I really should get cracking on losing those stubborn pounds again, but ugh!

  15. SherrieKesler

    April 29, 2014 at 12:41 am

    In actual way every woman want to be Lose the weight after the born their own Baby .
    http://wrinklerewindfrance.com/

  16. val97

    April 29, 2014 at 9:59 am

    I’m one of those annoying women who had no trouble losing the baby weight. With each pregnancy I was back to normal pretty quickly. However, I was in my twenties. Now, in my late 30s, it’s much more of a struggle. It seems like 5 pounds gained on a vacation takes much more effort to lose than the 30 postpartum pounds nearly a decade ago. So yeah, getting old sucks.

  17. Ashley Austrew

    April 29, 2014 at 12:33 pm

    I developed an eating disorder trying to lose weight after I had my daughter, and now that I’ve gone through treatment, I’m happy to say I feel so much better about my body. I’m pregnant with number 2 right now, and I’m so much more relaxed, I take better care of myself, and I feel really at ease. I agree with so much of what you said about our weight battles being fought for other people. One of the biggest shifts mentally happened for me when I stopped giving the media/other people authority over how I felt about myself. I am sure at some point post-baby #2 I will struggle with triggers and familiar feelings about my body, but I’m much better equipped to deal now. My stretch marks aren’t tiger stripes, but they also aren’t a problem. They’re a part of me, and I’m allowed to exist in my natural state and feel good about it.

  18. Pingback: This Wake Me Up When I'm Skinny Maternity Shirt Is Gross

Leave a Reply

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