Body image plays a complex role for all women, but given society’s idealistic standards of the ‘post-baby body,’ it can be especially taxing for new mothers. Years of research show that body image dissatisfaction can, in fact, predict incident perinatal depression. While some mothers love their bodies most during the fourth trimester, others admit to struggling with insecurities about weight gain, stretchmarks, hair loss, or excess skin. Happily, the days of glossy magazine covers with celebrity mommies appearing tight and toned are fleeting. Social media is now there to remind us all of the incredible things a woman’s body is capable of, and that the post-baby bulge is totally normal—no matter how long you have it. Below, five mothers show the beauty of a woman’s body after giving birth while getting real about self-acceptance on Instagram.
With three sons and twin baby girls, mommy blogger Claire has her hands full. In the post above, she shares a photo of her tummy five months after giving birth to the twins. She writes, “This is my 5 month twin postpartum belly. Sometimes I get comments about how amazing I look after having the twins. I'm grateful for the compliments but I always shudder to myself and think 'you wouldn't want to see me naked'. My body has grown and carried five healthy babies. The twins had a combined weight of 6.11kgs. Each of my pregnancies, 4 in 5 and a half years, has left its mark on my body. If, my dear follower, you posted this picture of your tummy, I'd tell you to be proud of it. That your wee ones don't care how your tummy looks. But when it's my tummy, that's kinda ravaged, it's hard to be positive. I know Instagram is a place of pretty grids, but I wanted to be real and honest. Body positivity isn't always easy, right?”
Brittany Anderson is a nurse practioner and doula who dishes out sound advice for mommies-to-be. “HUGE BOOBS, SQUISHY BELLY, FULL HEART. The female body is freaking amazing you guys! Watching it grow and shrink and stretch is nothing short of miraculous, and yet there is so much pressure for things to "go back to normal" after baby. NEWS FLASH: you don't "go back" to anything. Your body is forever changed, and that's a beautiful thing … This time last week I still had a 9+LB baby in my belly. My pregnancy and birth experiences have given me so much appreciation for a body that I HATED for most my life. Today I feel like a damn superhero ?????? PS- who else loves mesh panties? Seriously, they're awesome,” she shares in the post above. Mesh panties? Sign me up!
At 23-years-old, Alex K. is the proud mother of two baby boys. She is also a blogger at Mother by Nature Blog where she offers breastfeeding, postpartum, and general motherhood support. “The truth is, I will never get my ‘pre baby body’ back.. I will never be my ‘pre baby self’ again. When you enter motherhood you come out a new person, you will love a whole different way. A more unconditional way. You'll be a more unconditional person all around. Embrace your changes. Accept your growth,” she advises followers in a post while snuggling up to her babies. The cuddles are what count, right?
This Australian mommy blogger admits she works very hard to maintain a healthy lifestyle, but is at peace with the fact that she may never look the way she did before having twins: “Almost everyday, I receive messages from other Mums asking me how I look the way that I do. How I got my 'pre baby body' back. Here's the truth ladies - I DIDN'T. I have the excess skin. I don't have stomach definition the way I used to. My hips are a little wider. I don't want there to be any misconceptions. My body did not just 'bounce back'. Now having said that, I work very hard to maintain a healthy lifestyle and to FEEL good in my skin. I may not ever look the way I did before I had the twins. And you know what? I'm OK with that. I have arms. I have legs. I can see, hear and experience life. My body has done amazing things, why on earth would I punish it? Learn to appreciate what you have. It doesn't mean you have to stop working for what you want, just show a little self love along the way.”
Opal considers herself a warrior of self-acceptance, but admits it doesn’t come easy, writing of the above post: “This angle is much harder for me to look at. It's the angle my kids see me in and still shower me with kisses. It's the angle their father sees and still sends me freaky text messages and gives me forehead kisses in the middle of the night. It's only jarring to see myself this big, those that matter, don't mind. But, I never want y'all to think it is all sunny skies and rainbows over here, because it aint. Body confidence is not an overnight process. It has taken decades of self hate to get to a point of self acceptance.”