My Post Partum Body

I knew that my eating disorder demons were silenced when I first looked at my body in a mirror after Sophia’s birth and…accepted it. I was exhausted from labor, I knew I wouldn’t be able to exercise for several weeks and I was hungry from breastfeeding. There was nothing I could do about the six-months-pregnant-looking belly that hung loosely around my middle. Nothing. And I was OK with that.

Rewind nine months, had I seen the same sight I would have launched a full fledge “attack” on my own body. Loathing what it looked like, I’d begin to map out a strict diet, double up on workout sessions and inevitably spiral into a cycle of bingeing and purging because the extremes I was going to weren’t yielding results.

My attitude towards my body after this birth has been the same as it was after Sophia’s: I’m embracing my post partum body. I’m OK with the extra weight and am in no hurry to loose it. When I look in the mirror I see a woman who’s body has delivered two amazing children naturally, feeling every moment of discomfort and pain. I see strong. I see beautiful. I see confident. I see someone who is free.

The tank top is from For Two Fitness. My favorite active top during pregnancy.

It can be hard to face your body after having a baby. It still feels like it’s not your own even though you can sleep on your back, drink a beer and watch TV laying on your stomach, your body is not the same. Childbirth changes you and your body. And frankly I like the changes. Having children has somehow made me more confident and selfless at the same time: I’m more certain of who I am, but more willing to lay that down for the ones that I love. It’s a beautiful, transformational thing.

How has becoming a parent changed you?

–Sarah

Comments

  1. says

    beautiful post. I don’t have an eating disorder, but a series of events when I was about 7 led to a great fear of food. I actually believed (and still do to some extent) that what I eat can harm me. My pregnancy was the hardest and most liberating time I’ve ever lived. My daughter gave me the gift of having to face my fear. I’m still nervous about fish, eggs and chicken, but for the rest, I like to think I’ve come a long way.

    • says

      Thank you for commenting. I think that having kids changes our perspective as we think about them and the way we want them to grow up. I’d like my daughter to be free of the struggles that I faced with body image so it really makes me think about the way that I view my own body. Thanks for reading!

  2. says

    Such a good post Sarah. Freedom is such an awesome gift huh? Since becoming a parent, I feel it so much when I’m running. Now, I run with such freedom from expectations. I love crossing the finish smiling…it shows me there has been a good work done in me! I can’t wait to see Caleb and Chris along the course. I think about them and how blessed I am and I enjoy every second of running. There is one thing missing though….;) ;)

  3. Sarah Hussey says

    Amazing post Sarah, and you look fantastic! Beautiful and Strong. You are such an inspiration. I still have “issues” with my post baby body. I don’t like my stretch marks, and the “pooch” that just doesnt’ seem to go away no matter what I do… However, I’m starting to learn (and you have been a big help) to embrace those changes, and know that they are a result of a wonderful gift from God. Thank you for sharing!!!

    • says

      Thank you Sarah for you kind words. I can’t help but share because it is such an amazing feeling to not be as worried about weight and my body as I once was. I think becoming a mom put it all in perspective.

  4. says

    Beautiful! You are gorgeous! And your outlook is healthy and I am very happy for you! (And a little jealous, being 3 months pregnant, I just look like I’ve got a spare tire around the middle).

  5. says

    I love this post. It makes my heart swell!

    While I have no human children currently (furry children only right now) I definitely have concerns that my disordered past will try to rear it’s ugly head in full force when the time comes for me to address my body, weight gain, post-partum and the like. As I continue through recovery (two plus years of actively recovering, including over one year behavior free!) I try to think of every day as a fight: I fought to get my life back, I will fight hard every day to keep it. My heart wants little feet to run after one day, and I know that there is no way I could give as much as I want to a little one if I cannot make peace with myself. Little snippets like these really mean a lot to me and give me hope that I’ll be able to say the same one day. Thank you -truly- for sharing.

    • says

      I had so much fear and anxiety surrounding pregnancy. My disordered self was so worried that My behavior would worsen with the weight gain of pregnancy. But it turned out to be the opposite, pregnancy was a very freeing experience for me where I learned in a very real way that my life doesn’t revolve around me. It was such a transformation. Knowing that I was going to bring a little girl into the world also made me very aware that I wanted my legacy in her to be one of freedom: I didn’t want her to have the same struggles. Thanks so much for reading and commenting:)

  6. says

    I just found your blog through NYCrunningmama, I’m so glad I did! I’m nearly 16 weeks pregnant with my first and I’ve struggled with eating disorders for 13+ years including a pretty rough relapse shortly before I became pregnant. I’m struggling with my new body but trying to embrace it. I have some catching up to do on your blog but I’m excited to read your about your journey!

    • says

      I’m so glad you found me too! Embracing my pregnant and postpartum body was difficult, but when I finally released myself to it in the interest of the baby growing inside me: that’s when I felt free. It’s not easy to let go of the thinking that traps us. Even now, like this week, I feel like
      I’m struggling with not accepting my postpartum body. But it’s not nearly as hard to turn those thoughts around to positive ones as it once was. Prayers for you on your journey, I hope I can help:)

  7. Meredith says

    Thank you so much for this post! I have struggled with anorexia on and off for the past 10 years. The doctors told me I had probably done so much damage to my reproductive system that I probably would never be able to convince. My husband and I were overjoyed when we found out we were pregnant. The pregnancy was rough to say the least, it was a daily battle with food and body image. I thank God every day for my husbands patience and encouragement, eating disorders effect everyone around you, theyre like a parasite!

    Anyways, I was so nervous about what I would feel like after I delivered, how I would perceive myself-if I would have the strength to accept my new body. Suprisingly it is easier then pregnancy. The whole process of labor and delivery made me appreciate my body in a whole new way and realize how miraculous it is that out bodies are made to do that! I’ve found that I embrace my body, could care less about my stretch marks and would gladly sacrifice my own body for my beautiful daughter. Something that used to be so important to me now seems so trivial. It is truly amazing the healing power of a child.

    • says

      I totally agree with you, giving birth is so transformational! I felt the same: in awe that of what my body could do. And even though I’ve embraced my post partum body I still want to lose the leftover weight. I’ve actually had a bit of a hard time fully embracing myself these past few weeks, because I know I won’t be running for a while. I have to remind myself that its all OK and I had a baby 6 weeks ago.Grace. It’s all about having grace for yourself.

  8. Jen says

    Hi Sarah-I just stumbled upon your running blog, and I am sure glad I did! I can identify with many of your struggles. Though I do not have an eating disorder, I have anxiety and struggle with bouts of depression. My husband and I would like to get pregnant in the near future, but I am very scared because I am not sure whether or not to stay on my SSRI medication (I’ve tried to get off before and wasn’t able to do it). I am so afraid of how I will react to being pregnant and falling into anxiety and/or depression. Thank you for sharing your story and offering strength to other women out there.

    On an unrelated note, I also graduated from UNH with a degree in English. Go Wildcats! :)

    • scanney says

      Thanks so much for commenting Jen. I felt a bit anxious about my second pregnancy because I thought I might revert back to some of my old behavior. But one day at a time. Hopefully you’ll be able to work something out with your physician concerning your meds:) Glad my story resonated with you. So cool that you went to UNH too!

  9. Gayle says

    When I stepped on the scale at my 40 week appointment and saw the numbers “1-8-5,” I had a little mini panic. I had loved my round belly and big boobs, but the numbers scared me. And I wasn’t such a fan of the stretch marks. After giving birth (also without medication), I was a little bothered by my lingering belly pooch…until, the woman who had done my maternity photos shared that she had started shooting boudoir. I decided to be bold and did a sexy, boudoir photo shoot just 11 weeks post-partum. I most definitely had not lost all the baby weight yet, but I felt more confident, beautiful and sexy than I ever had before in my life. After that, the stretch marks didn’t bother me so much and I was even okay if some of the weight hung around. I’m now 16 weeks pregnant with my second child and fully intend to do another post-partum boudoir shoot. It taught me to celebrate the beauty of a mother’s body: “imperfections” and all.

    • scanney says

      I LOVE this! I love that you went all in and did the boudoir shoot. I definitely feel sexier with the babyweight, probably because when I’m not breastfeeding I have no boobs! Ha! Congrats on your pregnancy too! We are all imperfectly perfect, love that you chose to celebrate that!

Leave a Reply