I’ve always wanted bigger boobs, and wouldn’t have minded a bigger butt. Bigger arms, a hanging tummy and extra chin fat wasn’t part of the deal, but I got them anyways. When I was pregnant, my tummy was about the only thing that really expanded. I was so relieved that I could still wear my shoes and if you saw me sitting down, you may not have guessed I was expecting. It was only when I stood up that my tummy made an appearance. Many people complimented me on keeping my shape, even though I was pregnant. To be honest, I think it was genes as well as it coming down to me not having hectic cravings or hunger. I ate pretty much the same portions, and I continued to gym and have walks until I was seven months along. I wasn’t quite sure how to feel about the compliments though and looking back, I think the entire thing is a bit unfair; that our bodies are constantly being looked at, judged, even in such vulnerable states as pregnancy and post-birth.
What I didn’t know just after I gave birth was that my weight gain dodging was coming to an end. When I was in full swing of breastfeeding my son, the hunger hit me like a truck. I was absolutely ravenous, pretty much all of the time. I was eating something every 1-2 hours. I guess that’s another thing I didn’t get the memo for when it came to this whole pregnancy and baby thing. I was temporarily relieved when I heard and read that breastfeeding helps you lose weight. So you could imagine my surprise when clothes that I bought after I had my baby weren’t fitting me anymore. Hmm. That worry and doubt was further confirmed when I returned to work for a visit during maternity leave and it was pointed out that I was getting bigger. You know those older African ladies who seem to comment on your weight without being asked and they claim it’s a good thing – “you’re getting more meat on you, you look grown now”. Yeah, them.
A few weeks ago, I bumped into someone I used to work with at a shopping centre. I wasn’t sure if she’d remember me and I was silently hoping for us to casually walk past each other and call it a day. But our eyes locked and I couldn’t be that rude. As we engaged in the imperative small talk of how have you been? Where are you now? I could feel her eyes checking me out – from my now oilier skin to my almost double chin down to my tummy. I suddenly blurted out “I had a baby!”.
On my way back to my office, I felt an overwhelming sense of regret. I realised I was explaining my new body to her, almost as a way to say “cut me some slack I kinda just gave birth”. Why did I just do that? Why should I feel that I have to explain to anyone why I look the way I do? Well, we live in a world where looks mean a lot and even though I’m not one to judge or wonder why someone else has gained weight, or are overweight, other people aren’t me I guess. It really doesn’t help that we’re in a time where snap back bodies are praised and shoved in our faces all the time (Heidi Klum anyone?). I know, I know. I’m not a celebrity and I don’t have anywhere near enough money or magic to hire a personal chef, two nannies and gym trainer. I remind myself that all the time. Trust me, all the time. But the whole experience, as well as a few others where I felt people’s stares, had me question whether I was ever going to fit into my pre-baby clothes.
It’s recently hit me, I don’t think my body will ever be the same again. No, I know my body will never be the same again. It’s created a human. A whole human. I know women have been doing it for millennia, but it’s still insane! Can we stop downplaying how incredible that is? So even if I lost the few extra kilos I’ve gained, my battle scar of my c-section is a reminder, proof that it has been through one of, if not, the greatest things the human body can do. As amazing as it all is, there are still times that I miss my pre-baby body. Which I think is hilarious because there was a time I could point out some things wrong with it. My husband told me the other day that I can’t keep comparing my new body to my pre-baby body, because it didn’t have a baby. He swears that I’m still sexy and he loves my new curves. And I know, for the sake of my sanity, I need to learn to accept and love my post-baby body too.
Do/did you feel pressure to have a snap back body? Do/did you have any weight or shape hangups? How did you learned to love your post-baby body?
This whole snap back thing is just soooo ridiculous. I had my second baby 3 months ago and was struggling with my weight anyways before getting pregnant. But I’m not putting any pressure on myself – I’m just focusing on eating right at the moment and will get back to gym once I go back to work. I’m just enjoying my time with my daughter. It’s sad how we put soo much pressure on each other as women, when we should be encouraging and praising each other.
It is ridiculous, and we should be encouraging each other. Not to say I haven’t felt love from fellow mamas, but the majority of the judgement and pressure has come from women, women who have also gone through the same thing! urgh
Wonderful post! I work at a hospital, I see a lot of mommies soon after they deliver, and most ask how do I get rid of all of this???? I normally remind them that it took them 9 months to get to where they are, and it might not take them 2 or 3 months to recover, and that’s ok 🙂 As hard as it is to love yourself with loose skin, stretch marks and flabby bits here and there, it will be even harder to receive love from a caring and loving partner. So good luck Olwethu 🙂 🙂
Thanks Lungile. I’m sure you’ve heard it all hey. It’s sad that so many of us are concerned about how our bodies look after such an amazing life experience. I wish the pressure wasn’t so harsh.
I had a baby 3 months ago and I am frustrated at the fact that I am no where near having my pre pregnancy body back. To make things worse there are horrible accompanying stretch marks, most of the weight is gone but the tummy and stretch marks are still giving me nightmares
Oh hon, I know others have said the same about me but you just had a baby. Three months is definitely not enough time to expect much. But I also know what you’re feeling. No matter how rational we think we are when it comes to mattera of our looks etc we’re really hard on ourselves. You’re not alone 😚
But you know, the “Mama’s” mean well. And in most traditional African societies, weight gain has always been looked at as a sign of health, wealth and happiness. But that also, in a sense, promotes body shaming I guess. Atleast on those that are underweight and struggle with weight gain.
Hey, well meaning or not, you never know what someone is going through so I always think it’s best to not say anything. It didn’t help me hearing that from them at all.
I have a 3year old boy, I gained alot of weight after giving birth, breastfeeding didn’t help, because my son didn’t like it, i felt so bad for being so big then, my confidence went down, i had low self-esteem, i felt sorry for myself, I didn’t buy new clothes i continued wearing dresses and skirts i wore during my pregnancy, i was uncomfortable to undress in front of my husband because of the “zebra stripes” i now have. I went back to gym 3 months after my son was born It took me a year and 6 months to go back to my normal weight, but during that time i learnt so much about myself as woman, i discovered new passions, well passions I’ve always had but never pursued them because of “society” BUT thank GOD my son gave me the drive, today i am a personal trainer and a fitness group instructor, loving every moment of it. what i tell my ladies is especially those going through the post-baby weight dilemma is to love their bodies, chances are it will never be the same, we carried life, but we can work towards being healthy, maintain a healthy body weight and enjoy every moment of the new journey of motherhood, we owe no one an explanation. We are special beings, strong being and we are love.
I love my “zebra stripes” i look at the and remind me how lucky i am to have an opportunity of being a mother to a beautiful healthy boy:)
Oh wow Patricia, I’m inspired by your story. I’m so glad we have women like you who’ve walked the walk and can encourage other women to follow their passions no matter what. Thank you for sharing your story.
Thank you for the honest post. Two babies later, there honestly are a few things I struggle with but wouldn’t trade my two humans for anything ❤️
Thanks for reading. You’re looking absolutely fab! Yummy mummy indeed lol 😉
Oh my! Hi Aisha, I loved your post.
People can be brutal out there. I have had this pressure, my issue was getting a “Congratulations” constantly. someone assuming I was pregnant. I have two kids 5 and 6, so being asked if I was pregnant felt like a loaded question. sounded more like, “are you pregnant, again?” After a lot of frustration, I have to say I gave in and toned a little. I will never go back to the “before”, just hope everyone else will accept it too. This never takes away from the experience of being a mother. I will take the stretch marks and weight any day.
Yoh some peeps! I mean is it really necessary?! Sorry you went through that, I don’t understand how people can be so rude and unashamedly so. Thanks for reading and weighing in 😚
Babes. . .AN ENTIRE HUMAN BEING. . . you honestly don’t need this mess from people. I know nothing about bringing life into this world or breastfeeding but I am familiar with a changing body. Its not easy. Its traumatic. and then people have the audacity to discuss it. discuss you. Like your body is the common weather. And then they get offended when you tell them that you’re offended by this. enjoy motherhood and i hope this doesn’t take away from you enjoying it hey.
Mvumikazi | Urban Mnguni
Lol I had to laugh at your ‘like your body is the common weather’ part. I guess the struggle is real for all of us, mommies or not hey.
With my first I gained weight during breastfeeding, unlike some who lose it, I was hungry all the time. By the time I had my second I had lost a bit of it because when she turned one because I just missed my pre baby weight. I have learnt to talk to myself about the body I want and work towards it at my my pace. I am kinder to myself because this body has gone through a lot, still does if you factor in contraceptives work/study/family schedules. My second baby is almost 3 years old and I am atnow my goal weight/look/shape, it’s mostly about toning for me not weight. I have learnt to love myself more I’m not going to shrink or explain myself. I believe the 30s are perfect for self discovery and affirmation, so chin up girl, give yourself time and be very very kind to your body.
Hey Tari, thanks so much for sharing your story. You’re honestly the first woman I’ve come across who’s admitted to also gaining weight during breastfeeding so I’m glad to know I’m not alone. A few peeps looked at me like I was just making an excuse or something but the hunger counteracted all of the calories you’re “supposed” to shed. Hmm. My chin is up and proud!
I feel the pressure to ‘snap back’ body without even having had a baby, so i can only imagine. The body pressures on women are over the top; too thin, too big, too toned,not toned enough!! umm ok..ENOUGH already!! Thanks for this, totally relate able and YES you birthed a whole human, you deserve pie and ice-cream with zero phucks given : )
Ayi, it’s too much. Pregnant or not, mom or not. Lol @ a pie and ice cream, I wouldn’t mind that AT ALL.
Love the post Aish. It’s so honest and lovely! I felt like you were talking to me. I realized that I’ve done the exact same thing with every. single. new or long lost person I’ve seen/met recently 😬 – making excuses for the way I look when in fact it’s probably been in my head all along. What I have done is learnt to really appreciate my body for what it’s created and given me. I have absolutely accepted that it’ll never be the way it was before but hey, before was boring! This mom bod made a human and I am so so proud of it. Love love the post 😘
Thank you Janine 😚 yes it’ll never be the same again. And we have to appreciate what it is now. I’m done explaining, it’s too much pressure!