by Marie Lang, Postpartum and Infant Care Doula & Postpartum Placenta Specialist
Even before I had kids, I’ve never really been happy about the way my body looked. Every time I see pictures of myself from the past, I’m always surprised at how I wish my body still looked like that NOW, but at the time the photo was taken I was unhappy with the way I looked, because I always have been.
I wish I could talk to that girl and tell her how beautiful she is, and to enjoy the body she has in that moment.
I’m really not entirely sure why I’ve always had this negative self image. My family and friends have always been supportive and loving of me, no matter what my body looked like. I suppose it’s likely the portrayal of “healthy” female bodies in the media.
I became pregnant with my first child when I was 23 years old. This was the very first time in my life that I was happy with the way my body looked, oddly enough. Even though my belly was expanding exponentially to grow a baby, I was in absolute love with it. All of the sudden I could celebrate my big belly and I felt absolutely radiant. I gave birth to my son and the next 7 years were a very hard time. I dove head first into motherhood and completely lost any sense of self in the process. I became pregnant again with my daughter when I was 30, and again was able to love and embrace my pregnant curves.
Then Postpartum Depression happened.
The first two years of my daughter’s life were absolute hell.
How could I have so much love for my new little family when I hated myself so much?
Would I ever be comfortable in my own skin? Not only did I gain weight, but I didn’t recognize my postpartum body at all.
Pregnancy definitely changed my body in a way I wasn’t prepared for.
It was around this time that I was seeing a lot of the “Body Positive” movement on Facebook. This is obviously a great message to send! I saw all sorts of women of all shapes and sizes totally embracing their curves, or lack thereof, with no apologies! While I understand the intent of this movement, it was actually very hurtful for me to see at the time. When I saw women coming out and saying “I love my curves!”, all I could think to myself was, “But I don’t love my curves. I am not positive about anything right now.” And then there were the people that were telling me “Look at what your body did! It grew and birthed two babies! You should marvel at what your body did and not be so hard on yourself!”
I know that those people were trying to be supportive and helpful, but now not only was I depressed about my body, I felt guilty that I couldn’t just get over it and love my body the way I was apparently supposed to.
Today, I have emerged out of the Postpartum Depression fog. I have lost a ton of weight and gained some back too. I have body positive days and I have body negative days. The negative days are still typically more frequent than the positive days, but I recognize that I am a work in progress. I don’t particularly love my body right now-and that’s OK. The important thing is that I love the person that I am, and not what I look like. I realize now that it’s OK for those to be separate things.
I can love myself while not necessarily loving the way I look. My self worth is not measured by my outward appearance.
I am sharing my story so that people can see that this is normal. It is ok to be disappointed in your postpartum body. What’s important to understand is that no matter how you feel about your body, it does not define who you are.
**Metro Detroit Doula Services has Postpartum & Infant Care Doulas who can help with life after baby is here. This helps ease the daily stresses and allows the family extra rest. We now offer workshops and private classes focusing on restoring your core muscles and pelvic floor after pregnancy and childbirth. Contact us today for more information**