Years after childbirth, the “mommy muffin” remains. I hate my postpartum body for the extra pudge and odd belly button. But by focusing on gratitude and making small changes, I’m learning to finally embrace and love this strong, beautiful body that housed and birthed my miracles.
Remember those magazine covers flashing “Back in Bikini Bod Two Weeks Postpartum”? Yeah, right. Let’s be real, mamas: after birthing a tiny human, our bodies morph into fascinating landscapes of stretch marks, surprise skin folds, and maybe a belly button sporting an existential crisis. Don’t get me wrong, it’s amazing what our bodies achieve, but let’s face it, the “bouncing back” myth is about as real as unicorns dispensing rainbows.
Eight years after my second kiddo made his grand entrance, I’m still grappling with what I affectionately call my “Puerto Rican Pudge” (sorry Grandma, the ladies in our family all sported it). It’s not a six-pack, it’s not a flat tummy, it’s a testament to the miracle of life…and maybe a few too many late-night cookie binges.
But you know what? I’m done hating on my postpartum bod. It’s time to ditch the self-loathing and embrace the reality: this is my new normal, and it’s damn strong.
This article isn’t about pretending you love your stretch marks the minute you see them (although, hey, if you do, more power to you!). It’s about acknowledging the struggles, the societal pressures, and the very real discomfort that can come with a postpartum bod. It’s about sharing my journey from body hate to body acceptance, and hopefully, encouraging you to do the same.
So, mamas, grab your coffee (or wine, no judgment), ditch the filters, and let’s get real about our postpartum bodies. Because the truth is, we’re beautiful, powerful, and worthy of love, muffin tops and all.
4 Reasons I Hate My Postpartum Body
Let’s be honest: the “postpartum glow” they talk about in glossy magazines? Missing in action. Instead, I found myself staring at a stranger in the mirror, a stranger with excess skin, a belly button stuck in an identity crisis, and bathroom breaks that were anything but pleasurable. Yeah, motherhood comes with some unexpected baggage, and let me tell you, it wasn’t all cute onesies and giggles.
Let me also preface the remainder of this post by getting a small detail out of the way.
But this fact doesn’t mean I have any less reason to hate my after-baby body. Just like most moms, it’s really come down to the fact that my body is different than I’m used to, so I have to get over it just like everyone else.
Here’s the raw truth about the four things I hate about my postpartum body:
1. Excess skin around my midsection
No one … and I’m not joking when I say NO ONE … warned me that aside from not bouncing back into shape quickly, but that once I popped that baby out I would end up with excess, flabby, wrinkly skin on my belly. For weeks, that flabby, wrinkled skin remained and I continued to look pregnant.
Frankly, I was kind of grossed out about it the first time around.
With the arrival of the second baby, I knew that it was only a matter of time before the excess skin would shape up, and it has.
This was simply skin that had stretched during pregnancy, but resolved over time (and I don’t have this loose skin any longer).
2. My belly button was/is distorted
Adding to the belly issue, my cute little “innie” was a bit wider, had a dip in the skin above the belly button, and was trying to become an “outie” but didn’t quite make it.
Years after the second baby, I have my “innie” but the dip in the skin/muscle just above the belly button is still slightly concave.
3. Going to the restroom was a pain
Literally, going to the restroom was less than a pleasurable experience after birth. With the tearing and minor hemorrhoid that had developed, bathroom breaks were a bit unpleasant.
4. Societal pressure to return to normal
Between TV shows portraying unrealistic expectations for looking “normal” after giving birth and the pressure to diet and exercise after having babies, it could feel defeating at times that I wasn’t back to my pre-pregnancy weight within weeks to months after giving birth
Here I am 8 years after the birth of my second baby and although my skin has returned to mostly normal, my stomach is still bigger than I’d like and I’m a few pounds heavier.
Exercise hasn’t produced a flat stomach and my thighs are thicker.
In general, I’m just a new shape, and it isn’t the adolescent stick-figure shape I was used to.
I know many moms struggle with weight ideals, stretch marks and more, but I’d be interested in hearing from you what you hated (or still hate) about your body after baby…
Shifting My Perspective When I Hate My Postpartum Body
Okay, so we know that we aren’t pleased with our bodies after we have babies, but how can we stop hating our post-baby bodies?
Shift your perspective!
I find that an attitude of gratitude and positive self-talk help in nearly every instance when negative self-talk and feelings start to take over my mind.
In my case, I have to reframe my perspective by being grateful for how my body transformed through all I’ve put it through. It’s:
- carried and birthed two babies
- had implants
- had breast explant
- and currently going through perimenopause
My body has been through many changes over the years and after two babies, I might sometimes hate my postpartum body, but I really am grateful that it’s put up with all I’ve put it through.
When I sort through photos of myself in recent years, there are a few things I’ve discovered:
- I’m not in too many full-body photos (which is great because I can’t talk shit about myself this way).
- I tend to wear more loose-fitting shirts which hides that mommy belly a bit.
- It looks as though I strategically place kids in front of me for photos.
I’m learning to love myself and trying to keep myself healthy to show my postpartum respect as I go through hormonal changes in perimenopause.
How to Overcome Negative Postpartum Body Image
- Practice positive self-talk – these body and self-love affirmations can help
- Spend less time on the scale – refocus on more positive activities
- Feed yourself healthy things that make your body feel good
- Think of yourself as a whole, not focusing on body parts
- Praise your body for the amazing things it’s capable of
- Add clothes to your wardrobe that makes you feel good
Final Thoughts If You Hate Your Postpartum Body
It’s been 8 years since my second baby was born and I still have issues with accepting that this new body is just here to stay, for the most part.
Although I hate my postpartum body sometimes, I am amazed at all the things the human body can do and am learning to accept that with all I’ve put my own body through, I really should show my body more love. And, I’ve learned to recognize that sometimes I do things that won’t contribute to an improvement in my weight, belly pudge, etc.
For this reason, I put myself into a local hormone-balancing program/support group, primarily for my perimenopause, but I wanted to feel good about myself and my body. Just weeks into the program, I’ve learned a few things I did to start my day that only contributed to negative feelings about my body.
I haven’t lost the belly bulge, but I am starting my day with a healthier, protein-filled breakfast, which levels out my hormones and curbs cravings for junk the rest of the day. This sets me up to be more mindful about my meals and snacking the rest of the day. And, I’m finding that I’m eating less junk and choosing healthier snacks when I feel I need a boost.
I’m also reframing my choices when hitting the gym. Although I miss lifting weights some mornings, I’m learning to accept that a more easy-going treadmill walk in the morning gives me more steps, so I’m moving more than I had been previously.
And, I’m learning to love myself and really trying to focus on positive self-talk.
I don’t hate my postpartum body as much as I did, and it’s not because it’s physically changed much, but rather because I’m working on my mindset.
And that’s what I hope for you.
So, you can buy all your fancy shaping “contraptions” after birth, do loads of exercises, consider surgery for diastasis recti, go on diets, and so forth, spending loads of money and energy on something that isn’t terribly likely to get you back to your pre-pregnancy appearance (although with enough dedication and motivation, I’ve seen it work miracles for some friends).
Or you can make some light modifications to your lifestyle, and with a bit less money and energy, simply learn to love and accept some changes.